Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist. While I do have a masters degree in counseling, the purpose of this blog is not to provide diagnosis or treatment for mental illness of any kind. The purpose of this blog is to offer tips on dealing with the frustrations of life. When it comes to your mental wellness, please seek professional counsel if you feel necessary.
Okay. So last week was a hard week. In the name of self-care and the mental health hype that is quickly fading, I needed a break. Even though I’m not talking about this topic today, continue to be intentional about reaching out to your strong friends. I’ll deal with suicide another week, but today I want to talk about “the village” or at least what’s left of it.
I know by now, many of you have viewed, liked, and even shared this particular post. It’s been gripping my heart for a couple weeks now. So today, I want to discuss the power in community and it’s place in mental wellness.
Traditionally, African American families have built strong families around strong communities. If you grew up anything like me, any responsible adult could correct, rebuke, and discipline you as they saw fit. Let me make myself clear, this does not mean we could be abused based on perception alone. In my community there was a respected standard for acceptable behavior. There were well known behaviors children has no business expressing and if we got caught, we were at the mercy of the adult who saw us and our parents when they got word of our behavior. I think back on these times and wonder what happened to strong communities? Parents have become so protective of their children (and rightfully so with all that is going on) that raising children properly has become almost non-existent.
We have shifted from protecting our children out of love to protecting them out of fear. From this context, it’s safe to say good intentions don’t always equal good results. While protecting our children (good intention) is great, eradicating the village (unintended result) is the outcome. The issue is not protection. The issue is the source that fuels protection: fear. We are so afraid of the unknown, we no longer trust the village.
So what can we do to rebuild trust? So glad you asked because you know a problem is not worth presenting if you don’t have a solution.
Typically I would have a list of things to help, but in this case I only have one. The solution to our trust is simple.
We have to learn how to speak to each other and communicate our needs and expectations. I believe that when we master communication again, our villages will come back to life, our communities will grow strong, and our kids will be safe.
Now for the list!
How do we grow strong in communication?
1. Listen. Despite popular belief listening is active, not passive. We listen to understand not to respond.
2. Say what you mean not what you meant. In this life, there are two things you can’t take back in this world: your time and your word. Be intentional about both.
3. Speak your mind without defending yourself. In therapy we call this I-language. While people are responsible for their actions, you are responsible for your feelings. Own them at all times.
Be intentional today. Let’s come together to rebuild our communities and give “the village” her voice back.
Shanithia “Hyquality” Kendrick