Make Sure You’re Not Trash

“Oh great. Now I’m the daggone villain.” PHAEDRA GIRL STOP. (Photo courtesy of Bravo TV)
Background: Hey. In the age of memes and endless think pieces, my own included, we are easily inundated with “self care” shit. We read all these posts about how to protect the energy around us, not being afraid of cutting people out of our lives, treat ourselves like royalty, etc., BUT no one ever talks about this one key piece: 
Make sure you’re not the trash in the situation. 
See, it’s all about frames. For most of us, we easily view ourselves as protagonists in our own movie. Every day, we are tuned into how we feel, how things impact us-everything is happening to and for us. 
However, there’s a big ass world out here and billions of individual movies. Just like in cinema, some movies are good (Goodfellas) and some movies suck (Love Jones-fight me lol). Some of us move through the world in a healthy place. Some of us are trash in some or most areas. What’s most important is to KNOW WHERE YOU ARE ON THE GARBAGE SPECTRUM.  


Example

Phaedra was messy and toxic AF during this season of RHOA. However, you can tell she justified all of her vindictive behavior because she felt “wronged” by Kandi ages ago and acted from a place of victimhood. Had Phaedra obtained a sense of self awareness, she would have processed and resolved the issues with Kandi within herself and not let that anger control her. Unresolved pain makes us train wrecks, feeling entitled and bringing chaos to others with a feeling of vindication. It isn’t real. 
There are few things as uncomfortable as an actively toxic person carrying on about the #selfcare they deserve and what types of relationships they don’t have time for. Or posting memes that make you want to scream “GIRL THIS DON’T APPLY TO YOU!” or “SIR, YOU ARE SINGLE BECAUSE YOU’RE A DICKHEAD. NOT BECAUSE WOMEN ARE UNGRATEFUL!” It’s awkward to watch, right? Right. Think about how Phaedra was trying to host this “Rejuvenation” ceremony or something because “all the girls had too much conflict”….and I’m watching tv thinking UMMMM WHAT ABOUT YOUR SHIT? 👀
Self care is a fantastic and mandatory notion but we have to make sure we are worthy of all this self-praise first
Similar to the notion of lipstick on a pig. You can’t just dowse yourself in memes and notions and be healed. We can’t tell ourselves, they don’t like hanging out with me because they’re jealous of me. That’s the ego talking. What’s the real shit? Do you know it reveals itself? 
Whatever toxic elements are there will remain. And you will go from relationship to relationship or circle to circle until you run out of options. At the end of the day, it’s still you alone-with yourself. 
But okay, how does one do this?
The good: The answer is simple: self-awareness. 

The bad: It is not easy to attain nor digest self-awareness (initially). 
Silver lining: Here are some steps to get started. This process is personal and intimate. A judgment-free zone. I’m not suggesting anything I haven’t done myself. 
1. Ask yourself if you’re toxic. And BE HONEST. How many levels conflict are you engaged in? How many people do you consider friends? Can you honestly be trusted?

2. Look through your phone. What are you talking about? What is your conversation? What are your patterns? Are you on or do you initiate shade threads?

3. Conduct a Johari window exercise on yourself

4. Learn your triggers, boundaries and blind spots

5. Talk with someone regarding your discoveries and ensure they’re objective and trustworthy.  
6. Leave your ego at the door. (This probably should’ve been first). 

7. Forgive yourself for what you learn during this process. You are not your mistakes. 

8. Make peace with who you are and commit to core values that hold you accountable for being your best self

9. Leave people that stifle your growth behind you. Not in a mean way, but emotionally. Place them in healthy and manageable boxes (we will discuss boxes later). 
Conclusion: You have to know and accept yourself on the most intimate level in order to achieve self awareness and evolve to self-care. Otherwise it’s just rhetoric and God knows we get enough of that.

 
What are your thoughts? Did I nail it? Did I miss anything?

Who Said Conflict Was a Dirty Word Any Damn Way?


God, I love how these women so beautifully illustrate the phenomenon of interpersonal relationships among women. REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise appreciation is a lost art. 

Anyway, I’ve been busy as hell preparing for this Cinco de Mayo graduation (RISE OF DR. BROOKS: WORLD DOMINATION LOL )  so I fell off with my podcast AND my damn #selfcare posts. I know. I still care. But I wanted to share something I think is timely and appropriate. 💜
Conflict is not a Dirty Word…and it’s time we stop acting like it is. 


I had an interesting conversation this morning with an old colleague who’s hurting over something frivolous (in my humble opinion and yes I know that was judgy).  Also, I’ve got my own share of interpersonal sh*t I deal with on a biennial basis in various forms and this basically explains how I deal. She appreciated my advice so I thought I’d share it here as well in seven categorical points:


1. Conflict is bizarre. Conflict is emotional. Conflict reveals our character. Conflict stretches us outside of our comfort zones. However, CONFLICT is NOT a bad thing. If you do not stretch, how do you grow? What rational being does not want to grow? (If you do not want to grow, this is not the blog/column for you). 

2. Consider processing the conflict for what it is. This is done by removing the personal lens and examining the actual problem from a solutions-based perspective. This is an act of emotional maturity (and often times incredibly difficult). In summation, being the bigger person SUCKS B@LLS but it’s vital AF. 

3. Deep self-consoling sigh for this one😩…To get wrapped up in the ego and feel wronged is not an act of emotional maturity-it is the FULL OPPOSITE, unfortunately. I totally acknowledge that clinging to hurt feelings and victimhood is human nature. Hell it’s easier and much more fun. GOD KNOWS I KNOW ABOUT THIS. So allow yourself anywhere between 30 mins- 1 full business day to wallow in that and then promise yourself to let it go. Hold yourself accountable to that sh*t. Make sure you have someone in your life to challenge your victimhood. We can’t always see ourselves. I struggle to trust people who agree with me immediately when I am upset about something. (How can I be sure they’re helping me grow?)🤔

4. What I find in my personal experiences is that once we can admit when we are wrong or make mistakes, we realize that no one is going to die. No one EVER dies from admitting shortcomings-the ego just makes us FEEL that way. It defends us and fuels our personal bullshit. Every time. On the other side of the ego, we actually feel free. Once you are free, what happens from there is not your business. Take the lessons and integrate them in your post-conflict state. Whether it’s accepted or not, when I apologize, I feel better about myself and what I’m contributing to the world. Kind of like “yeah, I very well fucked that up, but I also made it right. I can sleep at night.” Sometimes people just want to be heard and a genuine apology can soothe so easily. It costs nothing.

 Bonus: Don’t get wrapped up in the response to your apology. No one is supposed to kiss your ass for doing the right thing, you’re just supposed to like…do it. If you’re expecting your ass to be kissed, it’s time to look within and examine your own motives for apologizing. 

5. Conflict avoidance is weird. Don’t be f@cking weird. Conflict breeds SO MANY wonderful things. I am a person who used to avoid conflict like the plague. I was a passive aggressive mess inside with no sense of self-awareness. That’s because I used to surround myself with people who agreed with me or didn’t challenge me. I didn’t get a chance to grow. However, I eventually did grow and I can tell you honestly that avoiding conflict reveals that we are hiding from something. 

Somewhere inside there’s a piece of our ego or a blind spot we don’t even know about that we are not ready to deal with. In the spirit of real life application, I recently observed a few necessary conflicts that ultimately revealed deep rooted issues that needed to emerge and be unpacked and resolved. Here’s one…

Example: I am on a closed fb group for an organization. There was some very “spirited” discourse going about the two processes through which one can join this type of organization the other day. And I mean like 900+ comments worth of “discourse.” Some people were attacking each other, some trying to understand wtf they walked into, others blame shifting, many posting “I’m here for the comments memes” and others clamoring for the post to be removed for fear of offending people. Like a few others in the mix, I was of the opinion that the conversation needed to be had and if the ultimate goal is the work of the organization, it’s best to hash it out-hear all sides and come up with a resolution or at least a plan to hear each other enough to work toward one. Hurt feelings about someone else’s feelings about your method of acquiring membership are a minuscule casualty when you remove the ego and consider the greater good. See how that works?

6. Curate your reality and the energy around you as much as you can. Do not react to things that aren’t explicitly stated to you…meaning if you aren’t tagged in the meme, it isn’t about you. Regardless of what it says. Saying that to say, unfollowing and logging off is healthy. I do it all the time because I understand my triggers. 

Curating what you deal with is important. Being left out is okay if it means you will maintain your sanity. Don’t worry about what people say behind your back and remember it truly is none of your business. I’ve been saying this since 2002 because it keeps me sane and helps me deal with things that I understand about myself.  

For example, I had a REALLY painful breakup with a friend many years ago. I knew that I was going to miss out on her pregnancy journey, marriage, celebrations and all kinds of stuff. I was so certain that we would spend the rest of our lives together and the pain of her departure was devastating.  I knew that people I knew would be there for those moments that I’d miss. I knew it was going to hurt. So, in the spirit of self-preservation, I unfollowed and minimized her in my newsfeed. I controlled what I consumed. Otherwise I may have become consumed by that sad feeling and creating unecessary narratives and scenarios in my mind that are NOT real and fully-based on conjecture. The thing is, that same energy could be used to write a book, take a class, or have a beer.  So that’s what I did. 

7. Reacting to conjecture demonstrates a lack of intelligence. I don’t mean this as aggressively as it sounds, but it’s true. It’s how my mind has been trained. I did not truly understand this until I started my academic program. You are asking to be destroyed verbally and in writing (and red ink hurts) if you share your opinions and assumptions  in a paper or discussion in academia. You must only give life to facts. And the facts must be cited by a credible resource. It’s hard to do because assumptions are easier, sensationalized, and more fun, but in the sense of conflcit management, conjecture is easily spread and taken as gospel far too often. Repeating and responding to conjecture is inflammatory and hurts our personal credibility. When you hear something triggering, ask “how do you know this? Did you hear them say this? Were you there? Etc ” and see if the answer is credible or based on “well I just thought…” or some shit. If the response confirms conjecture, STAWP! DO NOT PASS GO. STEP AWAY FROM THE DIALOGUE. MUTE THE THREAD. ETC. 

Another side of conjecture is the whole “they keep posting/talking about me” approach. Assuming that everything and everyone is about you or someone is subbing you is weird and self-congratulatory. Don Miguel Ruiz expounds on this a lot more in The Four Agreements. People do things because of themselves. Not because of us. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can let shit go whether it’s directed toward us or not. The ego makes us think this matters. Trust me, it doesn’t. 💜

Conclusion: 


One of the things I picked up in doctoral study was ethnography. It took me an entire semester to determine what the hell it was but here goes: You basically infiltrate a culture and observe it objectively for extended periods of time without inserting your bias. During the period, you pick up on levels of interpersonal power, personality traits, frames, agenda setting, and predictable behaviors among many other things. My point is, observing conflcit experiences from an objective perspective helps you remove personal bias from the issue at hand. You already know what means truly what. You already know not to take things personally because the phenomenon (conflcit in this case) will take place in some form with or without you. It is the simple cycle of life. 

We are all individuals wandering around with our own narratives and experiences and in our numerous exchanges throughout life, we are bound to wander into people, entities, or scenarios that will conflcit with our narratives. My narrative is not better than yours and your narrative is not better than his. Get it? The sooner we all understand that, the easier it will be to process and engage in conflcit. 

As always, I hope this resonates with whoever needs it. What good is acquiring knowledge, if you’re unable to share it? 💜✨✨✨✨

And for the record, you can cite me (Brooks, 2017) lol okay I’m done 😩✌🏽

We Repeat What We Don’t Repair 

Beyoncé image credit Daily Herald Blog
We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

From my heart to yours. 

I saw a meme with that phrase on it today and had to get off the treadmill to address it. In all honesty, I needed a treadmill break anyway. It inspired me very deeply. I want to share a few things with you (whoever it resonates with). 

THE POINT: We replay scenarios we haven’t healed from even as far back as childhood. They create a stain and emotionally stunt us. Forever. We replay and reenact them in our interpersonal relationships over and over and over and over. How awful this is for our partners and loved ones who see the good in us? What torture it is for someone who loves you to try and save you from “you” over and over?
How taxing it must be to repeat unhealthy habits learned from childhood influences like poor financial management, poor eating, conflict styles, emotional abuse or neglect? 

Wondering why we can’t reach our goals???…because we aren’t repairing the real sh*t inside. We aren’t dealing with the damaged children inside. Perhaps we are in self-preservation mode or a state of constant defensiveness? Perhaps we are harboring anger and resentment, expecting someone other than ourselves to satiate the pain. When we look externally for relief from personal pain, we soon realize no one can fix us, but us. Not a man/woman, not booze, not food, not money. We must repair ourselves. 
What if we examined our actions for what they were? Objectively. What if we had the balls to decide to divorce ourselves from perpetual victimhood and toxic cycles to just live our best lives and be better f*cking people? What if we forgave ourselves and our parents/relatives/teachers/friends for what they indirectly taught us and said “Today, I am different” and truly meant it?


Here’s an example of what I mean:

Are you constantly going from relationship to relationship and when things end, your rhetoric is always the same? “He’s crazy” or “she’s not good enough for me?”…chances are it’s you, bruh. It just is. Maybe this person is crazy because they can’t fill the void your parent left when they passed away or walked out of your life? Maybe you cannot see what baggage you bring to the table and the games you expect people to play with you? And not just for dating, but friendships too. Are we going from circle to circle? These things follow us. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

We repeat what we don’t repair. 

In the African-American community, specifically, I know that many things are prayed away but not necessarily dealt with head-on in the sense of seeking mental health treatment. What if we broke the cycle and sought out the many resources available

We pick up learned behaviors of gossip, passive aggressiveness and conflict avoidance from childhood as learned behaviors (in some cases), but what if we stopped ourselves like “why am I doing this?” “What is the desired result?” “What if I broke the cycle?” “How do I feel when I do this?” “How do I feel when it is done to me?”

These are all things to consider. Things I’ve considered many times. 

Personal Application: Personally, it took me years of therapy and intense self-reflection to free myself from a lot of the things I saw growing up. Many things to unlearn-when I say this I mean television shows and movies also. Not just family and grade school influences. I had to divorce myself from who I thought I was supposed to be, financially irresponsible behaviors, toxic relationships, commitment issues and much more. 

I’m sharing this to say IT IS possible. I’ve never been more free or more self-confident and it reflects in everything I do. 

The thing is, the ego makes us feel like we need to protect ourselves and put up walls and facades and such but when you are honestly able to own your sh*t and be vulnerable, life becomes even more enjoyable. No one can hold anything over your head if you own it. You don’t live in fear of exposure if you own who TF you are. 

You can be intentional in your words and actions and be taken seriously. You are free from anger and resentment if you truly understand what life is about beyond those personal frames and external influences. 

Conclusion:
You don’t have any regrets if you are intentional with your word and always doing your best. (Seriously,  I got this from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz). No one can successfully project things onto you if you know who you are. Surround yourself with people who will help you heal from these things and hold you accountable for your bullsh*t. The immediate sting of an uncomfortable conversation will do a lot of good in the long run. We cannot grow being surrounded by people who agree with us or feed into our personal demons-we must work to challenge that sh*t. We must. That is totally why I am so grateful for my village-eternally. 💜

Extra Credit: For the over achievers who are already free from their personal bullshit, I offer you this-consider exercising patience when dealing with a person who isn’t “there” yet. People were patient with you, so think about how much they will appreciate you for treating them with respect through their process. Guide them- and be honest, of course, but be sure not to condescend. I’m saying this from personal experience. In short, just because you want to say “what the f@ck is wrong with you!??!” doesn’t mean you should. 👍🏽

As always, I hope this resonates with whoever needs it. ✨✨✨
(Photo credit: Daily Herald Blog 2017)

You Don’t Have to Attend Every Party You’re Invited to: How to Protect Your Energy and Your Power

turnup

I no longer attend every party I am invited to.

When I say this, I’m basically saying that I am fiercely protective of my energy. I do not give away my power. For a person to take your power, you have to allow them in. Similar to True Blood, the vampires cannot enter your house without an invitation and expressed permission from you.

So, how does one decide what to accept or decline? 

See, we all have triggers and we often don’t notice that our triggers do the driving. Simply put, we don’t view the world as it is, we view it as WE SEE IT through our own biased frames that are formed by our experiences. So the focus of this post is to acknowledge the triggers within and then control them when interacting with others.

Here’s a personal  example to better illustrate the point,  throughout my 15 year career, I’d sometimes encounter colleagues that say negative things about me, discredit my work, or simply drain the energy from a room. I find myself in situations that could possibly bait me into a street fight an argument.

A few years ago, I would have been going back and forth on conference calls and sending unnecessary email dissertations addressing people about how they got me f*cked up may be inappropriately engaging me.

Today, I do not. In 2016, I know who I am. I do not seek validation from anyone outside of myself (and my mamma). 

I am aware enough to understand that I had maintained a chip on my shoulder for years. I transitioned from being an intern to a full time employee. I was damaged and insecure from being treated like “the kid at the grown up table” for years and I would unnecessarily prove my competence and worth to anyone who challenged me. I’d be crying in bathrooms and getting all worked up and offended over things that truly meant  nothing to the people who offended me. I was in an energy deficit every time. Didn’t even see it.

Today, I do not respond that way. Acknowledging my “demons” let me see the world and the interactions clearly and ultimately see the bait a mile away. I can read the tone of an email or comment and say “Okay, this person wants to party with you, Nikki? What say you?” And I simply do not engage. I can politely decline the invitation and move on with my energy intact.

Another example is in your dealings with friends and relatives. If you have a loved one who is constantly antagonizing you or saying/doing  hurtful things, you cannot take it personally. We all have that draining *ss friend who is constantly complaining/beefing with someone in the  circle. Don’t accept that energy in your space.

That is their business, their energy. You have to maintain the self-confidence and control to engage your energy on YOUR terms. Love energy vampires from a safe distance.

The most frequent party invitations come via (drumroll)….SOCIAL MEDIA…Oh LAWD…

There are many reckless invitations on social media. And we have to be bigger than those as well. These invitations come in the form of  inflammatory posts from Facebook friends, attention-seeking behavior, passive-aggressive messages directed our way, people being extra in general, someone posting false news to incite panic-the list goes on and on.

Yes, you see these things, and yes they annoy you, but you can move past it without participating. The trick is that you must understand it for what it is.

Example:
 A polarizing incident occurs (let’s say Brock Turner for the hell of it) and an otherwise decent friend, posts some sexist remarks on their page (the usual “she asked for it” kind of sh*t) and you see it.

Trigger:
You’re a woman, you understand rape. You are infuriated. It hits your core.

Consider this:
Acknowledge the trigger within and then process it. Refuse the urge to jump in and respond or post a status about the rape-apologist *sshole on your timeline. Channel that energy into rape victim support or educating your community on rape culture.

What if you accept the invitation?

Let’s unpack this a bit.  Do you want people to know you’re smart? Maybe you just want people to know you have an opinion the matter? Jumping into an online argument simply because something offends you will not change the perspective of the  offending force. Even if you make great points, it becomes a matter of saving face and no one will concede. You’ll end up losing moments of your life on a futile effort-just because you needed to tell him or her that “they’re wrong.” 

At least you got it off your chest right? Wrong. Human beings want to be heard. That’s the true driver here. Everyone wants to be heard, not even half as many want to listen. Learn to satiate that urge by processing the trigger internally and hearing yourself. You do not need external validation. You will feel complete and your energy will be intact. (This is a constant struggle for me but I have yet to regret it).

Conclusion

Simply put, you can either increase your power by actively supporting the eradication of rape culture (outside of social media) OR you can decrease your power by arguing with someone online about their personal thoughts and feelings and all that.

Let’s take a look at Beyoncé (surprise lol). She barely comes to anything unless it meets her standards. As her career progressed, we saw her at even fewer events. However, we all know she NEVER cancels shows and fully engages when she performs. She’s selective with her energy. Treat your energy like this. Some parties are appropriate to attend and others aren’t. Use you sense of discernment to decide.

I hope you find this helpful and that it resonates in some way. It’s truly all about perspective. Lastly, I’ll leave you with this:

“The only regime you must overthrow is your present way of thinking. As you will soon see, this is not nearly as difficult as it may sound.” -Guy Finley

Photo cred: Daily Mail

 

#LIKEABOSS: Entrepreneurial Survival Tips for Unicorns and Unicorn Enthusiasts

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