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Self Care Tips Every Black Woman Needs

 

pexels-photo-871495.jpegAs a Black woman sometimes it’s hard for us to remember the importance of taking care of ourselves.  We’re always giving  and taking care of  everyone else  that we forget about ourselves.  Remember self care is an act of self preservation.  Here are some tips to help you to take care of yourself as much as you take care of everyone else.

Evaluate your current level of self-care by looking at how often you drink water, eat healthy foods, and move your body. Don’t forget about your emotional and mental health either. Ask yourself how you handle stress. Do you keep going  when you know you need to take a break? Do you express  your feelings or do you hold everything inside? Do you turn to unhealthy coping strategies  or do you reach out for help when you need it? Also remember to  identify the people in your life who make your problems worse versus the people who listen to you without judgement?

Try to dedicate one day out of the week as “self-care day.” Saturdays and Sundays usually work best but any day where you can take care of yourself is fine.  If you can’t dedicate the entire day to self care, dedicate a few hours.

Make a list of all of the things that feed your spirit and put it  in your calendar to do them at least once per month.

Schedule joy breaks throughout your day.  Try practicing  deep breathing for 2 minutes, listen to a guided meditation for 5 minutes, color in an adult coloring book or dance to your favorite songs.

Learn to say No.  Make it a priority to say “no” to requests to your time, energy and resources twice as much as you say yes.

Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup and we need breaks too.

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Microaggressions at the Office

 

 

 

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Being a Black woman at work often means dealing with microaggressions from other co workers.  This is a list of  common ones and how to deal with them.

1- When White people think you’re the help-  This happens often because people often don’t  except Black women to be in corporate or professional positions.  While we should never believe we’re above people in service positions always be assertive in telling people who you are when they assume you’re the waiter, waitress or bus person..

2-When your presence disturbs them-  For some reason many people are afraid of Black women especially if we raise our voice or seem assertive.  Don’t make yourself smaller to please anyone, always stand tall and speak your truth.

3-When your hair seems to be the talk of the office-  Why do they always want to touch our hair?  If you’re not comfortable with anyone touching your hair say please don’t touch my hair, I’ve done this before, they will get the message.

4-Your voice is heard but not acknowledged-  You say something then your White co worker says the same thing and somehow they’re acknowledged.  This is extremely frustrating.  Speak up and make your voice heard.

5- When you’re stereotyped-  Have you ever had a White woman co worker run to management crying because you corrected her?  I had this happen with an intern I was supervising and I was told to be nicer to her.  The tears can be annoying but remember they often cry because they don’t want to stand up to you and are afraid of your greatness.

It gets frustrating dealing with this stuff but no matter what remember you’re fabulous.

 

The Myth of The Strong Black Woman

 

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Black  women are often portrayed as  fighters with sharp tongues who are ready to fight and cuss a man out at all times.    Sojourner Truth stated, “plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head us.”  Black women are rarely portrayed as soft and gentle and kind and in need of help.  This myth that we have to always be strong has been detrimental to our physical and emotional well being.  We often neglect our health because we feel we have to take care of everyone else and always be strong.  Black women are disproportionately affected by diabetes and hypertension and depression but the idea that we must always be strong keeps many of us from getting the help we need to take care of ourselves.   We never get rest because we feel we have to be strong.  Our strength  also often goes hand in hand with us being perceived as mean, harsh and unfeminine.  Black women are often not treated  the same way as other women because we are often viewed as unlovable.  Unlike other women we’re not often seen as multifaceted, when was the last time you heard the term “Strong White woman” or “Strong Asian Woman”.

It isn’t Black women’s responsibility to end this stereotype however we need to do more to take care of ourselves.    Take the time to make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, getting to the doctor and also a  therapist if needed.  Don’t put everything off until tomorrow because you have to take care of everyone.  You can’t take care of anyone  if you don’t take care of yourself.  Don’t believe the myth that being a strong Black woman means you don’t deserve to get help and  you need to be a work horse for everyone.

Online Therapy

 

 

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In addition to seeing clients in my office, I also offer online video therapy through a secure HIPAA compliant video platform. When I think about why clients choose online therapy, the first answer that comes to my mind is about convenience: the comfort of being in your own office or home, no travel necessary, the time saved, and the time of sessions is usually more flexible.  I admit I was skeptical about doing online therapy but when I decided to begin offering it in my practice and I read about it, I realized that it is something I wanted to do in addition to seeing clients in a traditional office setting.  I have been providing online video therapy for awhile now and I think it’s a great addition to traditional in office therapy, in the future I hope to  only offer online therapy.

When I’ve asked clients how they feel about seeing me via video rather than in an office, they’ve stated that they feel comfortable working this way and it’s more convenient for them since they do not have to go to an office.  During a snow storm I was able to see 7 clients online, I would not have been able to do this in an office because it would have been very difficult for me or my clients to get to the office.

Another reason some people chose online therapy is that it gives an added layer of confidentiality.  With online therapy, no one else has to know that you’re going to therapy unless you chose to tell them.  I don’t feel as comfortable doing telephone therapy as I prefer to see my clients when we’re speaking however telephone counseling is also an option if video is not available.  I  do not offer texting therapy.

Some clients would not benefit from online therapy and do need to be seen in an office.  Clients who are actively psychotic would not be good candidates for online therapy.  Also clients who have recent suicidal attempts would benefit from  in office therapy until they are more stable.

I have found the outcomes for my clients to be just as good whether I see them online or in my office and I’m so glad I’m able to  offer online therapy.

Narcissistic Parents

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What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance as well as an intense preoccupation with themselves.

 

Children of Narcissists:

Generally, Narcissistic Parents are possessively close to their children when they are small  because their children are a source of self-esteem.  When their children grow to become more independent, the narcissistic parent may feel envious of the child.

While there are many ways in which a narcissistic parent abuses  his or her child, there are times that a narcissistic parent is kind. This makes the abuse harder to handle for children of Narcissistic Parents – the child knows that the underlying tension means that one wrong move means that things will go wrong and the narcissistic parent may fly into a  rage.

Children of narcissistic parents often feel they must adhere to the agenda of the the parent for their lives to be stable. Asserting their feelings, their rights, or their thoughts can lead to much bigger problems.  This causes the children to learn that their feelings are invalid, unimportant, and inconsequential. They will  often stifle all feelings to keep the peace in the house.

Types of Narcissistic Parents

1) Engulfing Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who see no boundaries between themselves and their children. Children are seen as extension of the parent – not as another person. For babies and toddlers, this is okay – small children don’t often see themselves as separate from their parents anyway.  This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages. .

2) Ignoring Parents: are narcissistic parents who don’t actually care much about their children. Unlike engulfing parents, an ignoring parent sees the boundary between themselves and their child, and has little  interest in their child.

 

Sibling Dynamics In Narcissistic Parent Households:

If there are several children in a narcissistic household, the dynamic may be one of the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat, which can cause major friction and jealousy between the children.

The Golden Child, seen as an extension of the narcissistic parent, can do no wrong, and even the most minor of achievements are cause for celebration, admiration, and rewards.

The Scapegoat Child is to blame for all of the family woes. While the Golden Child can do no wrong, the Scapegoat Child can do no right. All achievements are dismissed.

 

Traits of Narcissistic Parents:

While these traits may not match all Narcissistic Parents, what follows are some common traits of Narcissistic Parents:

1) A Narcissistic Parent has difficulty understanding the emotions of empathy and how to create meaningful connections. As the personal needs of Narcissistic Parents dominate, these parents have little room for the needs of anyone else.

2) A Narcissistic Parent owns the successes of his or her children. In a Narcissistic Parents mind, he or she has been sacrificing everything for his or her child – the child must retaliate by performing at or above expectations. These childhood achievements are then owned by the Narcissistic Parent as their own.

3) Narcissistic Parents must be in control. No matter what. A Narcissistic Parent controls his or her children by dictating how these children should feel, should act, and the decisions to be made. This can lead to adult children of Narcissistic Parents being unsure of what they, themselves, like and want out of life. These Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents never learn to be autonomous and make his or her own decisions.

4) Narcissistic Parents emotionally blackmail their children. A Narcissistic Parent often is indulgent, kind, and sweet if a child is behaving in the way their Narcissistic Parent wants. However, the moment a child is disobedient, a Narcissistic Parent becomes enraged and cruel. This show of “I love you, go away,” creates insecurity and dependency among children of Narcissistic Parents.

How Do Narcissistic Parents Control Their Children?

There are a few ways that a Narcissistic Parent controls his or her young children. These control mechanisms include:

1) Codependent Control: “I need you. I can’t live without you.” This prevents children of Narcissistic Parents from having any autonomy, from living their own lives.

2) Guilt-Driven Control: “I’ve given my life for you. I’ve sacrificed it all.” This method of control creates a feeling of obligation in children; that they “owe” their Narcissistic Parents and must behave in a certain way to make their parents happy.

3) Love Withdrawal Control:You’re worthy of my love ONLY BECAUSE you behave the way I expect you to.” So long as their children are behaving properly, a Narcissistic Parent will be loving. That love disappears the moment a child doesn’t meet expectations.

4) Goal-Oriented Control: “We have to work together to achieve a goal.” These goals are generally the goals, dreams, and fantasies of a Narcissistic Parent. A Narcissistic Parent often  lives vicariously through his or her children.

5) Explicit Control: “Obey me or I’ll punish you.” Children of Narcissistic Parents must do as they’re told or risk shame, guilt, anger, or even physical abuse.

6) Emotional Incest Control: “You’re my one true love, The One, the most important person to me.” An opposite-sex parent makes his or her child fulfill the unmet needs of the Narcissistic Parent.

How Do Narcissistic Parents Abuse Their Children?

Narcissistic Parents have many subtle – and some not-so-subtle- ways in which they abuse their children. These types of abuse include the following:

  • Compulsively lying to children
  • Ignores and/or overwhelms the children
  • Neglects needs of the child
  • Makes child feel as though he/she does not matter
  • Puts parental needs far above those of the children
  • Mold children to an “ideal” image
  • Promotes and fosters a dependent relationship between parent and child
  • Distorts the concept of “love”
  • Manipulation for pleasure
  • Says one thing one day, something else the next
  • Untrustworthy
  • Uses the child’s vulnerabilities to exploit the child
  • Subtly and not-subtly insults children
  • Ignores personal boundaries
  • Treats others as objects, not people
  • Makes child feel as though he or she is insane

Here are some guidelines for recovery for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents:

  • Begin working through the grieving process – allow yourself to grieve the parent you never had.
  • Acknowledge that you’ve never learned how to properly deal with feelings, and begin to start working through these feelings.
  • Work toward loving that little child inside you in the ways your Narcissistic Parent never did.
  • Stop hoping that your Narcissistic Parent will change.
  • Remind yourself every day that you need to take care of yourself – those needs for self-care are incredibly important.
  • Remember – you matter too.
  • You do not need to harm yourself or hate yourself. You’re a great person, worthy of love and devotion.

Stop being afraid of your Narcissistic Parent – you are an adult, you survived , and             you need to reclaim your life as your own. Start by erasing that fear.

  • Get rid of that feeling of not fitting in or belonging. It was put there by your Narcissistic Parent and it’s got to go.
  • Find and connect with other Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
  • Find a therapist who specializes in treating Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
  • Remember you  are in charge of your own life.
  • You are more than worthy. No matter what your Narcissistic Parent told you,
  • You do not need to feel guilty if you decide not to stay in touch with your Narcissistic Parent – it may be for your own good.
  • Remember that your needs are important. Don’t be afraid to make them known and ask for what you need.

Do I Stay In Contact With My Narcissistic Parent?

As an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent, you have two options:

1) Total Estrangement – no contact, nothing, with your Narcissistic Parent.

2) Measured Contact – contact, but limited interaction with Narcissistic Parent.

If you choose to keep measured contact with your Narcissistic Parent, be  sure to follow some strict, clear guidelines with your parent.   Growing up with a narcissistic parent is difficult but remember as an adult you can choose whether or not to have them in your life.

 

Self Care for Black Girls

 

 

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We get so busy sometimes that we forget to take care of ourselves.   This happens to everyone but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to live your best life.  Sometimes when we hear the word “self-care,” we think of going  away for a weekend getaway or having an entire day of pampering  with massages, facials, and beauty treatments. All these things are amazing but they are also very expensive.   I’ve listed some simple and best of all free ways of pampering yourself and practicing good self care.

It’s  important to remember that self-care also means  taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.   Here  are five free ways you can practice self-care daily or at least a few days a week because you deserve  to take time for yourself.

1. Meditation and yoga.

This doesn’t have to be long; even 10 or 15 minutes will help.  This  will  bring you more calm and inner peace and it also helps you live in the moment and brings your mind, body, and spirit in harmony.

 

2. Exercise.

We all know  there are the physical benefits, but other benefits of working out include improving your mood and reducing stress, promoting better sleep, and making you feel happier.  You can work out at home or take a nice walk.

 

 3. Read

Reading is one of my favorite self-care practices.  I enjoy reading  fiction, inspirational memoirs and autobiographies/biographies. Reading often  reduces stress and puts you in a better mood,  and can improve your focus, and  also can help to develop your creativity.

 

4. Spend some time in nature

 Taking a walk in nature can often  improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being.   Walking  outside can also helps you sleep better and gives you a break from technology.

 

5. Do something that makes you laugh and brings you joy.

In the middle  of our  busy day, it’s  easy to forget to make time for things that make us happy.  Think about  what brings you joy, then make time to do at least one of those things daily.

Sometimes  the best way to make daily self-care a habit is to schedule it. When you’re planning your day or week, write down the activity — or activities — you’ll do;  writing them down will make you more likely to follow thru with them.  Remember to always make time for you.

 


Emotional Impact of Infertility

 

 

 

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Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or after trying for 6 months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. Infertility affects 10-15 percent of couples.

Women who have difficulty conceiving often experience the following:

Anger
Depression
Anxiety
Relationship problems
Social isolation
Low self-esteem
Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is clear that infertility can affect mental health. It’s possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation. This could make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.

Infertility Treatment

Couples with infertility have many treatments available to help them conceive. Most of these treatments cost a lot of money and may not be covered by health insurance. While many couples who seek infertility treatment are already stressed, the process and cost of assisted reproduction itself can also cause anxiety, depression, and stress. If you are trying fertility treatments and they are not working, you may often become further depressed and have self-esteem problems. Try to keep a positive attitude, and be sure to talk to your doctor about getting help if you feel you need it. A number of research studies show that women who are distressed have lower pregnancy rates among women trying infertility treatments.

 

What impact does infertility have on emotional well-being?
Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples. If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, or isolated, you are not alone.

How psychological treatment help you cope with infertility
Mental health professionals with experience in infertility treatment can help a great deal. Their primary goal is to help individuals and couples learn how to cope with the physical and emotional changes associated with infertility, as well as with the medical treatments that can be painful and intrusive. For some, the focus may be on how to deal with a partner’s response. For others, it may be on how to choose the right medical treatment or how to begin exploring other family building options.

Some couples may need help on how to control stress, anxiety, or depression. Mental health professionals can help you work through your grief, fear, and other emotions so that you can find resolution with your infertility. A good therapist can help you sort out feelings, strengthen already present coping skills and develop new ones, and communicate with others more clearly. For many, the life crisis of infertility eventually proves to be an opportunity for life-enhancing personal growth.