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Say No To The ‘Strong Black Woman’ Myth

Recently, I had a talk with a friend regarding moving on from a traumatic experience. She explained to me that she was having a hard time overcoming the experience and was constantly beating herself up over it. After listening to her vent, I explained to her that she couldn’t let it go because she hadn’t allowed herself time to feel the emotions stemming from her experience. She had been so hard on herself, working to be strong and suppress her feelings. She needed to allow herself time to heal. It had only been a short time since the event had occurred.

“You don’t have to fall into the myth of being the ‘Strong Black Woman’. Be gentle with yourself,”  I said to her.

She looked at me quizzically as if I was speaking some foreign language.

What exactly did ‘be gentle with yourself’ mean? She just didn’t understand where I was coming from so I broke it down for her.

Allow yourself room to be human and make way for your emotions

In our society, people tend to act like they want people to be robots- able to conquer everything without any emotion. Being human is recognizing that we all make mistakes, we all have our ups and downs, and we all have emotions that we have to deal with. When situations arise, accept them, embrace your emotions, learn from them, and move forward. Allow yourself room to feel whatever emotions that are ignited within you without trying to suppress them.. Do you feel sad, mad, or frustrated? Well good. That’s how you know that you aren’t some psychopath or alien. Give yourself space and time to feel those emotions and in time, you will overcome any hard feelings that you may have.

Strive for the best version of yourself, not the perfect version of yourself

Striving hard to be great is good, but reaching for perfect often leaves people miserable and susceptible to a host of emotional and physical disorders. Accept that perfect does not exist.  People who reach for perfect often find themselves falling hard when things don’t work out the way they planned. Instead of reaching for perfect, aim to be the best version of yourself each and every time. Give yourself room to make unavoidable mistakes and screw-ups (because they will happen).

Say no to guilt-tripping

Stop blaming yourself for mistakes, screw-ups, and everything in between. Instead, accept that it happened, learn from it, and move forward positively and enthusiastically. Things happen. Don’t guilt trip yourself for it. Instead be creative in finding ways to be better in the future.

Practice appreciation

Appreciate the small strides. Give yourself credit for even the smallest accomplishments that you have made. Celebrate each positive moment.

Feel how you feel and let go in your own timing

People will try to tell you how you should feel about things. A lot of times they will even tell you when it’s time to let go, however, you (and only you) can and should determine how you feel and how long you’d like to feel that way. You have to make the choice to let go of any negative emotions. You also have to make the choice to allow yourself to feel any emotions that may come your way. You should never allow someone to tell you how you should feel in any situation. Submitting to other people’s timing can lead to self-sabotage when you find yourself not able to move forward in their timing. Although you may need to let it go, do it when you feel you have the strength to do it.

Journal & see a therapist

And last but not least, one of the best ways that you can learn to be gentle with yourself is through journaling and/or seeing a therapist. Having an external force to affirm positive feelings in your life is valuable to your success. Having someone help you unpack your feelings is also very valuable in helping you become the best version of yourself. Journaling about the process or situation allows you to see your growth, get your feelings down on paper, and help you see through the mental clutter.

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