divaFeature: Compassion For Thy Self
We’ve got another divaFeature from the lovely Tatiana Johnson. Take notes and enjoy, divas!:
I remember talking to one of my friends about crying. She stated that she rarely cries. My friend, like me, is a black college student. She has just about all the stresses that any other college student has, if not more. Yet, I have always seen her composed. She has never been erratically emotional, yet she has been the one that many of her friends, who aren’t of color, come to as a shoulder to cry on. Learning about this friend made me think about myself and the last time I cried. I also came to the conclusion that I rarely cry. I began to talk more and more to my black friends and noticed the same thing. I do not think there is anything wrong with not crying, but I do know that sometimes being that shoulder to cry on or that rock can be draining.
Many of my black friends do not have what my counselor calls “compassion for themselves”. In an attempt to not generalize, I am finding that a great deal of black women suffer from “too much compassion for others”. Yes, we want to seem humble, strong, and able to take on the world, but sometimes we just need to stop…and be okay with stopping.
This can be extremely hard for someone like myself who never says no, lets other people take the lead, and although I know damn well that I am tired, will talk on the phone with that ailing friend. The conclusion is this: “black women are superheroes”… but even a superhero needs to take a moment for self care. After speaking with this amazing counselor, I’ve come up with five tips to build compassion for ourselves:
1. Remember that you are human. This means that you only have two hands, arms, eyes and ears. Know where you are. If you have just worked all day, and are tired, be tired. Rest. Whether this is turning off the cell phone, not logging onto the Internet at all or placing your bag full of work to the furthest corner of the room, have some time to yourself. Revel in yourself. And for all you busy women, it does not have to be long; take five minutes and be ‘unobligated’.
2. Get up and move; having compassion for yourself also means having compassion for your body. You do not have to go running a 56 mile run, but dance. Dance or walk or move in some way. Wake your body up and let it know that you’re listening.
3. Sleep. Get the sleep you need, even if you have to take a nap. Just sleep and don’t feel bad about it.
4. Sometimes without compassion, we can doubt ourselves. We can also put ourselves down. With this negativity, we are damaging ourselves. If you find yourself wallowing in negativity, make some challenges to yourself. Challenge yourself to be positive, and then see how positive you can get daily. There’s nothing wrong with a little positive reinforcement.
5. Do something once in awhile, or as much as needed, that makes you feel good. I grew up being told “just because it feels good, doesn’t mean you should do it”. I think anything that makes you feel good, can be good. Anything in excess can be bad. Do something that makes you feel good. Whether that is going on vacation, eating a cheeseburger, watching hours of television or having sex! Do it! Your body will thank you, and you’ll be on your way to being more compassionate to you and only you.
Tatiana M.R. Johnson is a senior at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an English major with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies. She also writes poetry and has performed around the U.S. She hopes to create films that honor the art of filmmaking as well as provoke discussion. She accepts emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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