• This article is meant to help you increase your “Self” knowledge in support of mental wellness.
  • First, increase your self-awareness by monitoring self-talk and identifying your values among other techniques.
  • Also, put yourself in a position to succeed and continue to develop new skills.
  • Implement a self-care routine, consisting of the basics like eating a balanced diet and managing your stress levels.
  • Finally, take steps to make your Self feel more secure and be ruthless in screening your influences.
  • Above all else, place your focus in the direction you want to go.

Hello Black women, my name’s Laura, and I’ve been certified Black since the ’80s.

The title of this article reflects my intention for the distressed reader to shift their perspective to a more helpful focus to support mental wellness. This is intended to occur through analogies and tips.

Let’s begin! For this activity, you’re going to need to use your imagination. Pretend for a moment that upon birth everybody is given an imaginary friend called a “Self.” I have my Self and you have your Self.

A Self is the most influential figure you’ll ever meet. She impacts you through urges, thoughts, and compulsions. 

Below are tips that range from techniques to increase Self-knowledge to putting yourself in a position to promote you to be your best Self.

1. Allow self-awareness.

Self-awareness is your ability to bring attention to or know about your thoughts, needs, desires, and emotions. Accepting or observing without judging thoughts is a helpful mindset.

Try looking at your thoughts rather than through them. Be aware of aspects of your gender and race and resist the temptation to allow that to be the sole lens from which all experience is perceived. Selves are quick learners and gain their knowledge through experiences. Your Self compels you to act in accordance with her values, beliefs, and experiences. You can increase your self-awareness by…

  • Monitoring Self-talk or recording your thoughts (i.e. journaling). This can help with identifying negative, unrealistic, or harmful thoughts.
  • Identifying values and beliefs. This can help with knowing what is important to you and why.
  • Observing who you follow, what you like, and your search history. This can help identify what you are attracted to.
  • Practicing mindfulness. This can help with awareness of your internal state and environment
  • Eliciting feedback from others. This can help with identifying areas in your blind spot and also how other people perceive you.

2. Put your Self in a position to succeed.

At some point, you might learn that like everyone else, your Self ain’t right. Because nobody else can see her it’s hard to get your Self help but you know she needs it. Here’s a little secret though… this may not be a mental health problem, perhaps it’s a location problem.

Simply put, if your Self is in a position where the people around her don’t value her, she may learn to devalue herself, and this can influence you to behave in a way consistent with poor Self-worth. Here are a few tips for putting your Self in a good position: 

  • Increase clarity of Self-direction. When you have a destination your actions are more purposeful and goal-directed. When an individual lacks a purpose they are more likely to be influenced and distracted by external factors. 
  • Engage Self with positive influences. This includes people or messages that encourage you to align your strengths and values with your behavior. It is possible that these positive influences may not include your family or the people you currently call friends.
  • Educate your Self through skill development. Skill acquisition is a relatively low-cost way to increase your value. It also helps increase feelings of autonomy by decreasing reliance on others.
  • Increase displays of Self-compassion and Self-acceptance. This starts with recognizing areas of pain, hurt and suffering and responding to it with understanding and kindness.
  • Protect your Self from threats. This can include avoiding harmful influences and other barriers that negatively impact your ability to participate in healthy outlets.

3. Implement a Self-care routine.

Self-care practices are actions that you can take to manage your Self without the assistance of a professional. Self-care has become a saturated subject. For that reason, I’m going to take off my Internet therapist hat and put on a TV attorney hat and remind you how to advocate for your Self.

Your honor, this Black woman continues to sacrifice my client, her Self, and I won’t stand for it a minute longer. She needs to do more Self-ish things. In addition to her Self’s physical care, I demand that her emotional, mental, practical, social, and spiritual self gets ongoing care too!

Health-related complications and stress aren’t necessarily Self-inflicted but they can be Self-sustained through passivity and inconsistent attention. Here are a few tips for increasing self-care:

  • Eat balanced, healthy meals, and stay hydrated. There is a strong relationship between what we consume and how it affects our mental health
  • Participate in physical activity (dancing, youtube exercise videos, outdoor activities, cleaning). This is a substance-free mood booster. 
  • Prioritize a consistent bedtime routine. Aim for about 8 hours
  • Manage stress. This can include lessening the demands you have and increasing your access to stress management resources.
  • Create a routine around an intention (why are you doing what you’re doing). Wake up with purpose. What are your short and long-term plans and do the actions in your day match up with them?

4. Secure your Self.

Feeling insecure is normal, being inferior is not. Insecurity involves a general feeling of not being good enough. When your Self is insecure she may feel vulnerable to danger and may compel you to act in a way to protect her. The perceived “overreaction” may inadvertently influence the observer to interpret your response as a threat to their own less secure Self. 

When a Self is secure it has a sense of purpose. You don’t necessarily determine the Self’s purpose, rather it is revealed to you and you support it. When the Self is secure she is aware of her capabilities not just her limitations. The secure Self is confident and uses healthy coping skills. You can make your Self more secure by…

  • Focusing on clarity or purpose. When you have a clearly defined purpose you have objective and motivation. A good place to start with identifying your life’s purpose is by exploring what you are passionate about.
  • Identifying areas of vulnerability and increasing feelings of safety. When one feels unsafe, for whatever reason, they tend to react to a perceived threat in a way that would neutralize the threat. This mindset does not foster an environment for the formation of helping relationships.
  • Allowing your Self to see abilities appreciated. When you can see the things you do well positively received it boosts your self-esteem and sense of value.
  • Increasing self-confidence. When you feel confident in your abilities, capacity, and judgment you are more likely to adopt a positive attitude
  • Increasing resources when possible: This could be skill development like coping skills or time management (i.e., allocating time for preparation) or tapping into people/organizations loyal to you (i.e., sororities).

5. Screen your influences.

Be mindful of what ideas you reinforce. The environment you put your Self in is the environment she gains ideas from. Those ideas can become your thoughts, and thoughts are known to influence actions. If you do something enough it becomes a habit and a cluster of habits is a pattern of behavior.

Think about social media as a virtual extension of your unconscious mind. Whatever you expose your Self to is called “a view” and what you comment on,  “like” or even dislike is called engagement. 

When you view something and engage with it, whether it’s positive or negative, you incentivize the owner or creator of the video to produce more of that content. It may be in your best interest to avoid it altogether and find a more helpful focus. This focus can include influences that promote what is in your Self’s best interest. Here are a few tips for screening your influences:

  • Manage news consumption. This can include limiting exposure and ensuring that your news source is credible, reliable, and balanced.
  • Rethink your social media activity. This can include decreasing exposure to negative ideas and influencers and following what supports your values.
  • Be mindful of your interactions with others. This can include increasing the clarity of the role of each person — it doesn’t mean you have to unfriend them, just mindfully prepare Self for interactions.
  • Pick and choose the media portrayals you subscribe to. This can include not supporting things that you feel do not uphold your values or beliefs. When you support media portrayals that you feel represent a Black woman in a fair and positive way, engage your Self with it.

The tips provided for you are tips that can benefit everyone because Black women are everyone. It’s the threats that are unique. The daily subtle and overt threats to a Black woman’s personhood can become distracting and lead one’s attention to places that are unlikely to yield a desirable outcome. 

My takeaway message is simple and universal: Place your focus in the direction you want to go. If you think of focus as “growing power,” everything you focus on grows. When you focus on your threat, you enter a threatening situation and that’s a potentially dangerous place to be.  If you focus on the seemingly endless reasons why Black women are disadvantaged it can become daunting and overwhelming — but when you can recognize who your self is, treat her right, make sure she’s secure, protect her, and put her in a position to be successful, it helps promote a fulfilling life.