Black Women’s Self-Care Prescription: It Starts With Gratitude & Ends with Saying, “No” to Others & YES to You
Black women are amazing! We are invaluable assets to our communities and any profession with our intelligence and endless pools of knowledge, and experience from our intersectional lens’. We bring a special flare, perspective and level of candor and cadence that is often imitated, but cannot be duplicated. Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston sang it, but it’s true, “I’m every woman. It’s all in me.”
Yet, as a Black woman it’s been my experience and the experience of so many others that our “super powers” to juggle a million things while being empathetic and discerning leaders and matriarchs, caregivers, teachers, strategists, problem solvers, change agents, allies, and advocates often cost us our physical and mental health and worst of all loving, balanced relationships with our own children, family, and friends.
By the time some of us realize that we’re used and depleted, it’s too late and superwoman is facing the kryptonite of age, time and neglect. I’m here to say, it’s time we learn to put ourselves first! If we don’t respect ourselves and put our needs and wants first — we’re going to die, sick, sad and alone.
Let’s face it, we’re never going to stop loving, giving and advocating for others; that’s who we are and I wouldn’t change that for the world. However, we need to do that for ourselves FIRST!
We can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to take some time to rest, replenish and restore! Here’s my Sista Self-Care prescription:
- Wake up every morning with a spirit of gratitude, thanking God for at least 10 blessings great and small
- Look in the mirror and find one thing you like about your physical body, smile, thank God for it and give yourself a sista shimmy to affirm your beauty
- Plan your day and week and schedule “me time”, something special or self-care related outside of prayer and meditation. Give yourself at least one hour EVERY WEEK — you deserve it! You can break it up or just take one the full hour to read, do yoga, call an old friend, walk, get a beauty treatment. Make sure that’s your “do not disturb time”.
- Learn the power of “NO” and let go. We teach people how to treat us. If we don’t set boundaries and limits from a place of love and self preservation, how can we expect it from others? Saying yes to everyone else and neglecting ourselves is not healthy. If a personal request isn’t aligned with our values, principles or we simply don’t have the time, lovingly and respectfully say, “no”.
#4 gets easier with age, but I urge young women to learn to say no and stand confidently in their truth. Learn how to respectfully decline requests. People pleasing at our own peril and detriment is counter productive and won’t make people like or respect us. It will only teach people how to use and abuse our time, energy and talents.
Beware of users, abusers and emotional vampires! They will suck all the joy, peace and precious resources out of your life — wipe their mouths, step over your lifeless body and go to the next victim.
Here are just a few ways to say no:
For other people’s, last minute (non-life threatening) emergencies:
I’m sorry, I’d love to help, but I don’t have time in my schedule, but I’m here for you. Please keep me posted.
Toxic people or triggering situations:
Thank you for the invitation, but I’m not comfortable with (that person or situation). It’s a sensitive subject and I don’t want to go into detail because (it’s been resolved, discussed or will be discussed at some other time). Sorry.
If you know the person is inviting you to be “messy” or the person tends to gossip, simply say:
I’m sorry, I’m not able to attend or participate, but you have fun, maybe some other time.
Avoiding a confrontation you’re not ready to deal with or aren’t prepared to face isn’t being a coward or being dishonest, it’s doing what’s best for you in the moment. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. People often make their bad choices or lack of preparation other people’s problems. Only you know your limits, set them and be ok. Unless it’s life threatening, they will survive.
Sometimes we need to feel needed, but that’s our own empty spot we need to fill. Always helping others helps us avoid our own problems and sometimes creates drama in our lives with codependent and enabling relationships. It’s a distraction and sometimes fulfilling and even entertaining. Beware of users, abusers and emotional vampires! They are very convincing and sometimes seductive. They will suck all the joy, peace and precious resources out of your life — wipe their mouths, step over your lifeless body and go to the next victim.
I had to learn the hard way that the world isn’t going to fall apart if I’m not there. If setting boundaries or respectfully saying no ends a relationship, that person probably isn’t that interested or invested in you and the relationship anyway. They’ll survive and go to the next person. Don’t look at their departure as a bad thing. Like Momma Iyanla says, “Rejoice!” They’re actually making room for another relationship with mutual love and respect or more importantly — they made room for you to learn how to better love and support yourself.
I hope this was helpful.
With lots of love and gratitude,
Conscious Creatives Editors
Please support Black creatives — read their work, buy their art, hire and contract them. You show that Black lives truly matter when you #InvestInEquity and support our work and help us maintain or improve our quality of life through #economicjustice.
Thank you for reading.