*I originally posted this blog in 2018. So much has changed this then, however, these tips still apply.
Well, it's that time again. The holidays are among us. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc. A time for family get-togethers, celebrations, etc. You may enjoy this time. It may bring you happiness, joy, excitement, and lots of laughter. This time may also bring you stress, anxiety, depression or anger. Getting together with family, hosting, planning, cleaning, running errands, and shopping, can make the entire process stressful for you. You may start having anxiety weeks before the holidays begin. You may have physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, cold sweats, heart palpitations). You may not be able to sleep and you constantly think things may go wrong. By the time the holidays are here, you can barely enjoy them.
Well, this year can be different. You can take control of your emotions during the holiday. You don’t have to feel stressed out if follow these tips. ,
This is not television or the movies. Things do not have to be perfect. The turkey, the stuffing, the china, the house, etc. You work long hours, you have kids, elderly parents, you commute and have a household to take care of. Who has the luxury of taking time off to prepare for holidays? I’m sure you don’t. Who has the luxury of taking time off to prepare for your family drama? You are not perfect, so stop acting like you are.
Who cares if the laundry isn’t done, the shelves aren’t dust-free or you decide to use paper plates when you serve Thanksgiving dinner? In the grand scheme of things, are these things important? Or is the important part of the holidays enjoying family and friends, watching your kids play, watching a good football game or taking a nap? If you want to use paper plates, go for it. If you want to have Thanksgiving catered, go for it. If you want to skip the rug cleaning and just vacuum, go for it. If you want to skip the family drama and head over to a friend’s house instead, go for it. You don’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over again, just to make everyone else happy and the holidays “perfect.” Save yourself anxiety, stress and headaches, by doing the best you can and embrace imperfection.
Have a Holiday Homie aka Text Buddy
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to vent to who wasn’t in your home during the holiday celebrations? Someone who could help calm you down with just a few words? Someone that could tell you it will be okay? Find that person!! Tell them ahead of time that you might need them for support when you are stressed and anxious. Choose someone that already knows your situation and stressors. Someone who knows you and your mother-in-law don’t get along. Someone that knows Uncle Bob drinks too much which leads to bad jokes or fights. Someone who knows your mother will criticize your cooking. Find that person. Find your Holiday Homie.
Own Your Emotions, No One Else’s
As you know, your relatives can get on your nerves, stress you out, and piss you off. There is no sugarcoating it. It is what it is. Usually, this is the case when someone is criticizing you, puts demands upon you or they are upset with you. When this happens, you may become upset, stressed, irritated or anxious. You take to heart their opinions and actions. You see their word as the end all be all. You let it ruin what should be a joyful celebration.
Let me tell you this. Usually people are trying to project how they are feeling onto you. Someone who criticizes or judges you may be threatened by your competence, may feel insecure, or may want to cover up their feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety. Ultimately, they are insecure and want you to feel the same. So what do you do? Do you continue to own their insecurities as your own? Or do you let them have their opinions and you go about your business? Remember, you don’t need to take on their insecurities and feelings about what they think you should or shouldn’t be doing. Remember, you have control over how you feel. Don’t take on someone else’s emotions. Don’t let someone else ruin your mood during the holidays. Take it back. If the criticisms get too out of hand, see below.
Set Boundaries. Let me say it again. SET BOUNDARIES!. Yes, your relatives may annoy you or get on your last nerve. They may get in their feelings or judge how you live your life. Remember, you don’t have to take it. You know you can set boundaries by speaking up or leaving the situation, right? They are not holding a gun to your head. So many you think you have to stay and put up with being mistreated. Many people I have spoken with say they don’t want to be disrespectful by setting boundaries. Remember it is not disrespectful speaking up for yourself. What may be disrespectful is what you say and how you say. Yelling, screaming or cussing is not the way to speak up for yourself. It is definitely not the way you will be heard. Telling the person what they said and how it made you feel in a calm voice will be received better. Also letting the person know that if the behavior continues, you will be leaving or they will have to leave. This is not disrespectful, it is respecting yourself and stopping people from treating you a certain way.
Go With The Flow
We are still in a pandemic. The holidays will not be the same. There will be masks, social distancing, missing family members, new family members, missing foods due to shortages, etc. Just roll with it. Maybe you will create a new tradition this year. Maybe you can have Thanksgiving in the backyard. Maybe you will only have half of the family for one holiday and the other half during another holiday. Maybe serve steak instead of Turkey. Take care of your mental health by adjusting to the circumstance. You never know what will come from it.
The holidays do not have to be stressful if you have a plan in place. You deserve it to yourself to have a peaceful, joyous, exciting holiday.
This year it's just the four of us for Thanksgiving. We aren't ready to have a family packed holiday yet. Hopefully next year we will be back on track. I have come to terms with it and my decision has given me peace of mind. I have my holiday text homies on standby just because I love them and just in case they need me. LOL!
What will you do this holiday season to take control of your emotions?
Wow. This is the only word I can think of during this time in our lives. First of all, I wanted to send my prayers out to those who have been affected by COVID-19. Second, thank you to all the first responders who risk their lives to help those affected by the virus; doctors, nurses, medical staff; firemen, EMTs, etc. Lastly, thank you for all those that are still working in order to keep all of us going. The grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, bank tellers, airline workers, transportation, communication, delivery drivers, etc.
Anxiety. Fear. Frustration. Sad. Overwhelmed. Worry. Guilt. Anger. Shock. Denial. I keep hearing these are the emotions that are coming up for you (and me) during this difficult time. It is understandable and it is okay. We've never seen anything like this in our lifetime. This virus is not only affecting the United States, it is affecting the world.
I have to admit, I did not realize how serious this was until February. Although we weren’t quarantined yet, I noticed people were getting sick and the numbers were growing worldwide. Early March, I began hearing rumblings of a quarantine coming, so I began setting up my home office and buying food. My anxiety started to rise because I didn’t know when the shelter-in-place was coming. When it finally hit, I felt a little at ease. Of course, when I began to see the confirmed cases and death toll rising, I became concerned again. I was shocked, anxious, and frustrated. Everything was moving so fast. Like many of you, I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. I was worried about getting the virus when I went out shopping or to the bank. I was worried about my husband, children, loved ones, clients and friends. Were they going to get it? I couldn’t sleep. I was emotionally exhausted. I felt like a zombie walking around my house and running errands. I had no clue what to do next. Like many of you, I like to plan my life. Most of the time I know what to expect, and if life throws me a curve ball, I could usually figure it out. If I couldn’t, I would ask someone. This time, I had no clue what to do. This time, I had no one to ask. This was unlike any other pandemic that we had seen. After a few days, some people hit the ground running with articles, blogs, Facebook/IG Lives; on how to get through this time. I read a few, but it became way too overwhelming. I decided to sit tight and feel my feelings. I didn’t run away, distract myself or numb out. I knew if I did that, the feelings would reappear much stronger. To be honest, I needed more than one sitting to get through these emotions. It took the first week of isolation to name what I was going through. During that time, I tried different ways to cope with everything that is happening. I have continued to use these tips. I hope they will help you too.
Stay Home, Stay Safe
Please listen to the experts. This is not the time to rebel and be a risk-taker. This is not the time to go rogue. This can be a life or death situation. Protect yourself and others. Follow the recommendations of the CDC, WHO and government officials.
Wash Your Hands. Social Distancing, etc.
Keep yourself clean. Again, check the websites I named above on tips on how to prevent yourself from contracting COVID19.
I know you want to keep informed. I am right there with you. It is easy to go down the wormhole of Coronavirus. However, too much information can cause anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, even guilt. I know things change frequently and you may be worried about missing something important. If you find yourself feeling emotional every time you read the news and statistics, maybe cut back. Unfortunately, the news is consistently negative. The feel good stories are usually at the end. Most likely you are not going to feel good when you are reading or watching the number of COVID19 cases and deaths rise. If you look at the news every hour, limit it to every other hour. Or every few hours. I found myself waking up and scrolling through my phone while in bed. I started my day with negativity. Now I wait until I get out of bed, and finish my routine before scrolling the news.
Get Some Fresh Air
Get some fresh air, while remembering social distancing. Take a walk around the block, sit on your porch, balcony or backyard. It gets stuffy in the house. You need to smell fresh air, hear the birds chirping and smell the flowers. It’s springtime!!
Try Meditation, Prayer, Mindfulness, Breathe
Quiet your mind. Anxiety and worry can cause your brain to be on overload. In this uncertain world, calming and clearing your mind is helpful. It can be for as long as you want. Two minutes, to 20 minutes. If you don’t know how, try an app. There are many good ones out there. Headspace, Calm, Balance or Liberate. Deepak Chopra has a 21-day guided meditation with Oprah. If none of those work, try just listening to rain drops, or ocean waves, or slow jams from your favorite artist. Anything that will help soothe your mind.
Connect with Friends and Family Virtually
This has been great. Thank you Zoom and Facetime for providing platforms for us to talk to our family, friends and coworkers. Besides business meetings, some of you have enjoyed Happy Hours, birthday parties, dates, dinner parties, all virtually. We are in this together. Let’s support each other. You don’t need to be alone right now. If you don’t like video, phone calls work too.
Find a Creative Outlet
Well, you have some time on your hands, so you might as well use it. Try one of the hobbies you’ve wanted to try but never had time. Cooking, baking, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, yoga, gardening, etc. If you don’t know where to start, find a class online. Youtube, Udemy, Lynda are a few places you can find online classes.
If you workout outside, remember social distancing. Running, walking, bike riding, skateboarding are just a few you can do outside. If you are inside, there are plenty of classes online. Many yoga, dance, and martial art instructors have moved their classes online. Youtube has plenty of fitness videos. Relieve stress by working out.
Listen to Music
Music can be so healing. I don’t know about you, but music has gotten me through break-ups, studying in college, arguments with parents during my teen years, grueling workouts, commuting in traffic, etc. I know it can get me through COVID19. I’ve been joining DJ DNIce at #ClueQuaratine on Instagram. I also discovered DJ Cummerband on Youtube and Home Office DJ on itunes. It’s been fun and healing. Find the music that will help you get through this uncertain time.
Find a Mental Health Clinician
If you are still struggling, reach out to a mental health clinician to process your feelings. Myself and others are offering appointments virtually, so you don’t have to leave your home.
Let a professional help you process what you are going through. If you are in California, I have a few slots open to help you. I offer phone and video appointments. You can find clinicians on Therapy For Black Girls, Psychology Today, or your insurance company.
I hope this blog has helped you. Let me know what has worked for you.
Stay safe and healthy.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Galentines Day! Two different days about love. The love of a partner and the love of your girlfriends.
Some women don’t like either day. To them it implies that they need someone in their lives to feel whole or to feel loved. Some don’t have a partner, others don’t have a group of girlfriends like you see on “Sex in the City”, “Living Single” or” Friends.” Some have it all, and don’t want to celebrate any of it.
Who says you have to celebrate loving someone else on Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day? What about celebrating loving you? If you have been following me on Instagram this month, you know that I have been talking about ways to practice self-love.
You may ask, why is self-love so important? Well, if you don’t love yourself, you may surround yourself with people that will not show you true love. You may pick people who treat you badly if you treat yourself badly. Self-love is how much you care about yourself no matter who is in your life. Self-love is the way you treat yourself and talk to yourself. When you love yourself, you teach others how to treat you and love you.
Self-love does not need to be overwhelming, time consuming or cost a lot of money. Here are four ways to celebrate the love of you.
I find this to be the number one game changer. We all know that words hurt. I don’t care what the “sticks and stones” saying says, words do hurt. I see it in my private practice and I’ve dealt with it in my personal life. Many of you are devastated by something someone said years ago and it has stuck with you 10, 20, 30 years later. Many times, you start to believe it and start telling yourself the same thing. “I am ugly” or “I am fat” or “They probably think I’m stupid.” You say these things to yourself day in and day out. Over the years, the self-hatred builds until you can’t stand the person who is staring back at you in the mirror. It affects your self-esteem, your career, relationships and how you navigate the world. Of course you try to get out there and date, and wonder why you keep picking the wrong partners or you wonder why you didn’t get the promotion. You can turn this around by changing the negative self-talk to positive self-talk. You may be thinking “telling myself I am skinny is not going to make me believe it.” That is not what I am saying. Right now, it’s about accepting yourself for who you are right now and if you feel like changing the way you look, that will be icing on the cake. Let’s reframe the above negative statements.
“I am ugly.” “I accept the way I look. Maybe I can try a new hairstyle, or new outfit
that makes me feel more comfortable.”
“I am fat.” “I accept my body has changed. I will live a healthy lifestyle
in order to have a healthy body.”
“I’m so stupid.” “I have several accomplishments in my life.“
Would you talk to a child or a friend the way you talk to yourself? Of course not. That would be mean. Stop being mean to yourself.
Create A Healthy Lifestyle
Creating a healthy lifestyle, inside and out is a great way to celebrate loving you. If you aren’t eating healthy or exercising, you aren’t going to feel that great. And if you aren’t feeling great, you aren’t going to love yourself. Also, not feeling good about yourself can drive you to have unhealthy habits. You want to numb ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, etc. It can be a vicious cycle of self-loathing. A healthy lifestyle is not about joining a gym and becoming a vegetarian. It is about finding food and a joyful movement that your body enjoys. Make it fun too. Don’t use the words diet and exercise plan. You can use “self-love meal” or “happiness dance time.” You want this lifestyle to bring joy, not deprivation, stress and sadness. If you want a brownie or piece of chocolate cake, go for it. However, will your body love 2 or 3 pieces of cake? Probably not. Show yourself love with a healthy lifestyle.
Celebrates Your Accomplishments
When you lack self-love, you notice everything that is wrong with you. Everything you haven’t done. Everything you did wrong. Of course looking the lens of “I do everything wrong” is going to make you feel bad about yourself. What would happen if you thought and spoke about everything you have accomplished? Instead of looking at your weight, how you messed up on a presentation, how you don’t have a partner, look at all the great things you’ve done. You graduated from Yale, work at a Fortune 500 company, started a business, have a great group of girlfriends, you are a loving daughter/aunt/sister, and you are able-bodied. Make a list of all your accomplishments and when you think about all you haven’t done, read the list of accomplishments to remind yourself of all you have done.
How many times has someone told you how great you are and you’ve shut them down. Do any of these sound familiar?
“You look great!” “Yeah, but this dress is old”
“Congrats on the promotion!” “Yeah, but I really didn’t have to do much. “
“Great job on the presentation!” “ I screwed up towards the end.”
When you don’t accept the compliment, you dismiss everything the person has said. A person took the time to tell you what they see in you and you shut them down. Even if you don’t believe it, accept it by saying thank you. The person took the time to say something nice about you, so take the time to ponder that there may be something to it.. Stop believing that people are just walking around complimenting for the fun of it or to be fake. I can guarantee that if someone said something negative you would accept it. Let’s be real, you can accept the negative because that is what you are used to and you may not love yourself. Although you don’t love yourself yet, they want to let you know you are loved.
Loving yourself takes time, however don’t stand in your own way. True love starts with you first. Once you love yourself, you will know what to accept from others.
What have you done to show yourself some love today? Comment below.
Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2020. It seems like just yesterday everyone was worried about Y2K. I can’t believe that was 20 years ago!
My plan was to write a simple blog about 2020 and setting goals for the new year and decade. However, after a recent flight, my blog idea totally changed.
A few days ago, I was on a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Cincinnati. I was enjoying a game of Candy Crush when it started. TURBULENCE. Looking at the aviation map at the time, it looks like it occurred around Kansas (Okay, Wizard of Oz, this Dorothy wants to go home!) Anyway, I’ve been through turbulence before, but it was quick and not too worrisome. This time, it was stronger and lasted about an hour. It was the longest hour of my life. Every once in a while the pilot would announce “Flight attendants take your seats,” and “flight attendants, please check in.” Although he said it in a calm voice, I knew it was serious. I’m sure if I asked the pilot to rate the turbulence, he might categorize it as a 5 or 6. To me, it was a 10+! My daughter, who was sleeping, would wake up every once in a while and look at me with fear in her eyes. I had the same fear, but I tried my hardest not to show it. I held onto her pretty tightly. Little did she know, she was comforting me too. When the turbulence was at its strongest, I started to pray. I pray daily, and have a strong faith, so it wasn’t a surprise I was praying. However, this prayer was different. I’m not sure if you have ever prayed the “Lord, if you get me out of this, I will _______” prayer. This was my first time. I’ve never been one to pray this prayer because I don’t want to make promises I cannot keep. A few years ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions for this very reason. During the turbulence, there was a point where I wasn’t sure I would make it. Besides the “ I promise to..” prayer, I also got comfort in the “Well if it is your will, at least I am with my family.” prayer.
Anyway, you may be asking, what did I promise God when I was thinking my life might actually end? Over the past year, with the help of my life coach Kerry Tepedino, I have been working on my emotional, spiritual and financial health. Physical health has been sporadic, but getting better. I started running, eating healthy and drinking less. So on the plane, I promised if I lived that I would definitely speed things up healthwise. I know what to do and how to do it. I just have to do it. In fact, I GET TO take better care of myself because I love myself. Self-Love is the best love, right? I do believe I was put on this earth for a reason. I believe I am not just here to take care of others. I am here to take care of myself. The better I take care of myself, the longer I will live. I’m ready to be a healthy mom, wife, entrepreneur, therapist, sister, daughter and friend. Like they tell us every flight, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.
So, in a few hours I will get back on a plane and head home. You may ask “Are you worried Mpho?” Nope, not a bit. I have a faith I will be just fine. I realize the importance of living a healthy life. I appreciate an airplane and turbulence for giving me a new perspective on life and my health.
Looking back at 2019, what helped you put your life perspective? Let me know!!
Many Blessings in 2020!!
Happy Father’s Day. Today is a day to celebrate and honor fathers and father figures and all they have done for us. However, in many cases, fathers have left the family, and their children do not feel like celebrating or honoring them.
I work with women everyday who were abandonment by their fathers during childhood. Their fathers abandonment set the stage for the way they see themselves and others. Their father leaving during childhood caused them to feel unlovable, not good enough, and disposable. Since they fill unlovable, they try to find love and self-worth in all the wrong places. Many come to me feeling angry, resentful, and hurt by their father’s actions.
I decided to write this letter to all the dads who left their children behind. This letter is not about dad-bashing. It is the story I have heard from so many daughters over the years. The heartache and pain they endured wishing their father was in their lives. All the things they’ve wanted to say but can’t due to circumstances. This is their voice. Their opportunity for healing.
How are you? It's been awhile. Or for some of us, it's never been. We are women now. You've missed a lot. You missed so many important moments in our lives. Where do we start? Our birth? When you found out mom was pregnant, you couldn’t handle it. You didn't know what to do. You may have been too young. You may not have had a father figure, so you didn't know how to be a father. Who knows. Some of you stayed in the picture a little longer. You stayed a few years after I was born. At first, things were great. You and mom got a long. Maybe you thought having me would help. Maybe you thought sticking it out would help. Things got tough. You began to fight with mom. You lost your job. You may have had a great job, perhaps the stressors of home got to you. We will never know. What we do know is what you missed when you walked out that door. You missed the numerous firsts day of school. You missed Back to School nights and Open houses. You missed Girl Scouts, sports, holidays, summers, vacations, first dates, graduations and college acceptance letters. The fun and exciting stuff.
You also missed the not so exciting stuff. When you left and didn't pay child support, We had to move out of our home and collect financial assistance. We had to shop at Goodwill because mom could not afford clothing. We had to grow up fast. We had to take care of our younger siblings. We had to be emotional support for our mothers. Whatever childhood we had, was gone. We had to listen to mom cry herself to sleep. We saw her date men who were not good to her, or good to us. We needed to start working at 16 because money was a little tight. Sometimes we missed out on parties and school events to work because we needed to make sure the lights stayed on and food was on the table. We started looking for attention outside the home. We wanted love and affection that we did not get from you, so we started looking in other places. Friends, partners, drugs, alcohol, crime, teen pregnancy or food. Many times we found it in men. To be honest, the men did not treat us well at all. However, we didn’t care. It was a man. It was someone that held us (sometimes), was by your side (sometimes), called us (sometimes), told us they loved us (sometimes) married us, or had a child with us. We didn’t care, we just wanted someone to be there and tell us they loved us because you weren’t there. Although their love was sporadic and contingent, at least it was there.
We can honestly say your leaving really affected our self-esteem and self-worth. We don’t feel good about ourselves at all. We don’t feel that we are good enough for any man, partner, friends, or career. We don’t feel lovable. We feel like a disappointment. We feel we don’t belong.
When you left we felt so many negative feelings. We realize those feelings are still there. Anger, resentment, sadness, grief, shame, fear, guilt, doubt, and betrayal. We are trying to work through these feelings through therapy. Holding on to these feelings is no longer serves us. They are causing us to hate ourselves. We love everyone else more than we love ourselves. We are ready to love ourselves. We are ready to look deep inside ourselves to see how our life has been affected by you leaving. We are not here to blame. We are women now. We cannot blame you because we stayed with partners that don’t treat us right. We cannot blame you for our lack of confidence in going for the job we want. Our childhood circumstances were not our fault. We were thrown into a situation that affected the way we looked at life and interacted with the world. We are ready to take responsibility for our choices in adulthood. We made the choices that reflected how we felt about ourselves. Our past does not have to define our future. We are beginning to realize:
WE ARE ENOUGH!
WE ARE LOVEABLE!
WE ARE SUCCESSFUL!
We get to feel joy, peace, happiness, courage, confidence, acceptance, hopeful, love and trust.
At this point, We no longer care why you left. We can no longer hold on to that story. We are ready to write a new story. If you would like to be in it, and if you would like to rewrite your own story, contact us. You had your own story and that is why you left. We get that now. We have learned it was never about us. You left not because there was something wrong with us, but it was something up with you. We see that now.
Happy Father’s Day!
Feel free to share this letter with a father you know who is no longer in touch with this daughter, however, he would like to be in contact with one day. Perhaps this letter will give him hope and motivate him to rewrite his story. Also share this letter with a woman who still has negative feelings towards her dad and she is ready to address her abandonment issues and low self-worth. Feel free to call me at (510) 250 - 3091 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
I am a therapist who helps individuals who are motivated to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk and self-trust. We help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.