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Updated: May 30

Self-love may be defined a lot of different ways. When I asked my 14-year-old what self-love meant to her, she said having confidence and taking care of yourself; self-love is not selfish. She’s not wrong. Personally, I think of showing up for myself in the most bold and powerful way. This boldness is so refreshing and relentless that I can lay all insecurities, self-doubt, and most importantly negative self-talk, at the door.


I typically envision myself walking (really floating) across a room, commanding the attention of every being in sight. That’s what self-love looks like to me, levitating and walking in confidence. A pigeon could come and take a crap on my head, and I would still be the baddest in the room. Professionally, I know that self-love is the root to all other loves. According to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, “self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth” (2021). If we go a little deeper, self-love explores our innermost relationship with ourselves. It’s a reflection of how we carry, take care of, and dare I say, prioritize ourselves over others.


Self-love looks different per the individual as we all have our personalized ways in which we take care of ourselves. Personally, self-love looks like the following:

  • Setting healthy boundaries

  • Prioritizing my health

  • Forgiving myself for past mistakes

  • Talking to myself in a manner that is uplifting

Notice that not one of those examples had a cost associated with them. If we explore deeper, self-love can be broken down into four aspects: self-esteem, self-awareness, self-worth, and self-care. I’d like to touch on a few and spend a little more time on others. Let’s start with self-esteem.


The word self-esteem is often used interchangeably with self-worth, but the biggest difference between the two is self-esteem is more attached to our accomplishments. We live in a society where physical attributes are highly valued. As a black woman, I’ve struggled with self-esteem as I’ve often been the only black woman in the room; especially in my adult life and especially while working in corporate settings.


Instead of standing out, I would often shrink myself or try to fit in because the story that I told myself was everyone else had more power (not true) or were smarter (damn sure was not the truth) because they were a different race or simply because they had more experience. I look back on some of my experiences and realize how foolish of me it was to think this way. These people were none of the above; they simply had the audacity to use their voice. They had that boldness that I described earlier, boldness without any repercussions. If I go even deeper, I know that this lack of confidence has a longer history.


For many black women, “the lasting effects of American slavery add a complex layer to the societal burden” (Olanyinka et al., 2021). Lack of representation in the corporate space also did not help. In my head, I had no one to aspire to as no one looked like or sounded like me. Over the years, I even learned to “correct” my thick New Orleans accent because I convinced myself that my dialect was ghetto (I know…shameful). Moving to Las Vegas in my early 20s was a bit of a culture shock. It was a much more diverse place to live compared to New Orleans at the time. It took several more years before I would begin to work on my self-awareness regarding these insecure thoughts.


Self-awareness is the key to owning our thoughts, or in other words, it is the conversation that we have in our heads. Imagine how we would feel if we constantly told ourselves that we are overweight, ugly, not good enough, not smart enough, and so on. These thoughts can and will impact our emotions, which will ultimately impact our behavior (Psychology Today, 2019).


Tip to become more aware:


Journaling is a great tool to help you to monitor your thoughts and emotions. Additionally, journaling is credited with “boosting your mood, enhancing your sense of well-being, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety” and so much more (Positive Psychology, 2022).


Self-worth also derives from self-love. It represents the part of us that ruminates whether we are good enough and even worthy of the love that we crave. According to Psychology Today, “the first step in building self-worth is to stop comparing yourself to others and challenge your critical inner voice” (2019). This may mean logging off of social media for a period of time or spending less time with negative friends and/or family members. Personally, I find that when I focus on helping others or setting a large goal, it refocuses my attention on something that is bigger than myself.


Lastly, and my favorite aspect of them all–self-care. I often provide the following analogy for my clients while in session. Imagine that you are a car, and your gas tank is empty. Then I have the client tell me how far they are going to travel on “e.” Most clients won’t be able to argue that they won’t be able to get very far. Other clients may acknowledge that they can go a little bit further, but their performance won’t be as great as it would be when the gas tank is completely full. The point I’m trying to make is clear: self-care allows you to fill your tank completely so that you can tend to all of the things that you normally would do. Sure, you can still take the kids to all of their practices, prepare dinner, clean the entire house, work your full-time job, go to school part-time, complete that project for work that’s due on Monday. But could you do it better if you spent a little time with yourself doing something that you love or doing absolutely nothing at all? I think so.


Author: Atrell Patton, CPC-I, Certified Personal Trainer


References:


Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (2021). Self-love and what it means. Retrieved from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/self-love-and-what-it-means#:~:text=Self%2Dlove%20is%20a%20state,well%2Dbeing%20to%20please%20others.





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For Mental Health Awareness month, I would like to focus on setting boundaries. You may be asking why of all things would I like to focus on setting boundaries, but did you know that boundaries are not a bad thing and is really healthy for you? Some people may see boundaries as walls and as if you are closing yourself off, however, boundaries can help you maintain balance and respect in yourself and in your relationships. There are different kinds of boundaries such as physical, possessions, spiritual, mental, and emotional (Health Affiliates Maine, n.d).


When thinking about boundaries we should not only focus on boundaries for other people, but also internal boundaries for ourselves. Health Affiliates Maine discusses internal boundaries as being boundaries to maintain balance in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors while external boundaries are when it comes to others and how they treat us. When we have strong healthy boundaries, we feel safer and in control.


Tips for healthy boundary setting:


· Determine your core values.

· Start small!

· Communicate boundaries clearly.

· Stay strong and consistent in holding these boundaries.

· Use “I” statements when others don’t understand why you are setting new boundaries.


It can be scary setting new boundaries and that’s okay! Recognition of the uncomfortable can be a good thing because we know the boundaries are working. People will try to test your boundaries, and this is when we have to stay strong and stick to our guts. This is why it is sometimes necessary to start small and begin getting comfortable with the idea of boundaries. When needed use “I” statements which is stating how you feel, without putting the blame on others. For example, “I feel upset when you disregard my boundaries, because I deserve to be respected” or “I feel hurt when you read my texts, because I value my privacy.”


Author: Hailee Collier, CSW-Intern, LMSW


Sources:

· 8 Tips on Setting Boundaries for Your Mental Health-DBSA Alliance

https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/young-adults/8-tips-on-setting-boundaries-for-your-mental-health/

· How to Create Personal Boundaries to Improve Mental Health

https://www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com/how-to-create-personal-boundaries-to-improve-mental-health/

· Picture:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpamsmieja.com%2Fblog%2F&psig=AOvVaw3PQPMFdeYOtajUF6DXmY4g&ust=1653180243739000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAwQjRxqFwoTCLCxubuu7_cCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAL

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In honor of Mental Health Awareness, I would like to discuss an extremely important topic to me. Suicide and Suicide Prevention.


CDC REPORTS


The CDC reports that about half, 54 percent, of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. However, many of them may have been dealing with mental health challenges that had not been diagnosed or known to those around them. As the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death (after accidents) for people aged 10 to 34, suicide is a serious public health problem. That’s about 123 individuals each day. And for every death there are 25 attempts. Men are more than three times more likely than women to take their lives. Firearms are the most common method of suicide (used in about half of all suicides). Yet, suicide is preventable. Knowing the risk factors and recognizing the warning signs for suicide can help prevent suicide. Most times, there are warning signs that someone is considering ending their life. They may have been struggling with depression, talking about just ending it all, saying they are done, not wanting to be involved in activities like they used to be, using drugs and alcohol, talking about feeling trapped, feeling there’s no point in life, or complaining of feeling hopeless.

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Often talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless things

  • Expressions of having no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life; saying things Like, "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out."

  • Increased alcohol and/or drug misuse

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community

  • Reckless behavior or more risky activities, seemingly without thinking

  • Dramatic mood changes

  • Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others

How can we help?


If someone says he or she is thinking of suicide or behaves in a way that makes you think the person may be suicidal, don't play it down or ignore the situation. Many people who kill themselves have expressed the intention at some point. You may worry that you're overreacting, but the safety of your friend or loved one is most important. Don't worry about straining your relationship when someone's life is at stake. You're not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life — but your intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get treatment. If someone indicates they are considering suicide, listen and take their concerns seriously. Don't be afraid to ask questions about their plans. Let them know you care, and they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help immediately from a knowledgeable professional. Don't leave them alone.

Crisis services

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Author: Dana Papania, MFT-I, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy


References


In honor of Mental Health Awareness, Depression and Thoughts of Suicide https://findyourwords.org/depression-help/suicidal-thoughts/


Suicide and Mental Health America

https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/suicide

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