Role Modeling & The Emotional Wound: Learning to Love the Self and (then) Loving Me More

 Dear Visible Man,

     In reading your writings, I’ve been reflecting on my childhood, having a mother who struggled as a single parent while raising me. I turned out okay—I didn’t get pregnant or get involved in drugs. I did go to college and I have been successful in my work in the healthcare industry. I remember the pride my mother had as I received my graduate degree.

     My mother has recently passed away and although I am grateful for all she did for me, I continue to harbor feelings of intense anger at her regarding the way she raised me.

     My mother was devoutly religious. She strongly believed in Proverbs 13:24:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

      My mother followed this proverb to the extreme.  I remember her whipping me and telling me to stop crying.  When I wouldn’t, she would say, “I’ll give you something to cry about.”  I would suck in air trying to stop.  My lower lip would tremble and I would stop sobbing while the tears rolled down my face.

      I would try to please my mother and stay out of trouble, but it always seemed that regardless of what I did or how well I excelled in school, it was never enough. I know she loved me. I never shared with her my feelings of anger. Like others, I was raised to obey my mother without question. Now, she is gone. It is too late and I am left feeling empty, but still full of anger.

     What do I do now?

Feeling Stuck, age 25, Seattle, WA

Dear Young Woman,

     First, I want to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved. Second, in responding to your question, “What do I do now?” my suggestion is that you continue to empower the psychological self, which maybe conflicted between the grief you feel and the anger you hold regarding the way you were raised.

     Let’s clarify the issues of concern:  It is perceivable that understanding the experiences noted, you may be responding to the following issues:

  • Unresolved grief regarding the recent loss of your mother
  • Unresolved feelings associated with the discipline, lack of nurturing, or warmth by your mother
  • Internalized conflict associated with the trauma that has been experienced within the psychological self.
  • Questioning regarding conceptualization of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth.

Your words about your mother indicate that she was a person who loved you very much, but was unable to express her love in the way you would have benefited the most– a warm, nurturing and comfortable relationship.  There may be a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • In her own history, it is possible she may not have been exposed to such a relationship and therefore was unable to model that kind of relationship for you.
  • During her child and adolescent development, she may have endured specific types of abuse or traumatic experiences that continue to be unresolved.
  • Her current life as a single parent was difficult, so she may have been living in fear that you would have the same or similar life experiences.

Now that your mother has passed on, we will never know the reasoning for her actions.  One fact remains that although she has gone to be with her ancestors, you remained here, shouldering intense psychological pain from an open emotional wound.  In reality, the wound has been there for many years.

It is possible that you may have found ways to suppress or contain the pain associated with the wound.  However, now that your mother has passed on,  the internalized conscious and unconscious defenses you have used to defend, obstruct, or redirect the emotional pain are no longer available to you.

There are now “cracks” within the wall, and the emotional pain being held within the dam is slowly weakening the structure.  Unless something constructive is done, that dam will come crashing down and the torrents of emotional distress will overcome the psychological self.

It may be that the means or strategies that you used prior to your mother’s passing were unconstructive and therefore, it is essential to identify strategies that will assist you in not only becoming “unstuck”, but will also work towards empowerment of the psychological self.

A strategy that I would suggest is a framework I have designed known as the “Five Stages Of Recovery.”  It consists of the components Revelation, Acceptance, The Gift of Apology & Forgiveness, Letting Go, and Moving On.

  • Revelation:  It is here that you acknowledge the existence and impact of the emotional wound. It is here that you become aware of the trauma and damage that was done to the psychological self.
  • Acceptance:  It is here that you gain understanding of the impact of the emotional wound.  In doing so, you begin the process of healing the wound.
  • Gift Of Apology & Forgiveness:  It is here that you begin to look within the psychological self, acknowledging remorse and regret.  It is here that you come to terms regarding past behaviors of yielding/giving in to the pressures being exerted by your mother to ignore the developing emotional wound.  It is here that you seek to extend the “gift of apology” to the psychological self and in return, receive the gift of forgiveness from within.
  • Letting Go:  It is here that you free the psychological self from the pain associated with the emotional wound.  This is done through seeking to balance the dissipation of pain and suffering with gains of inner peace and freedom; this is achieved from the atonement of past behaviors.
  • Moving On:  Here, you have reached the plateau in which you have accepted the past and you are able to live with those experiences.  You are able to balance living in the present as well as creating a vision and hope for the future.

Concluding Remarks

First, whether or not you want to believe that given your mother’s circumstances, she did the best that she could,  the reality is that she is no longer among the living.  Second, whether you want to forgive her or not is not the focus of this writing.

The focus is on you and what you want for your life.  You can continue to hold on to the anger and maintain those internal conflicts, or you can choose to live.  If you choose to live, have the willingness to explore your conflicting feelings.  If indeed we only have one life to live, then make this life about you. Find acceptance.  Extend the apology and seek forgiveness.  Have the willingness to let go and move on with your life.   Create the determination to rise above and live the life you want, seeking the warm, nurturing relationships that you desire.

“Role models are not only examples of behavior we want to emulate.  Role models are also examples of what we ‘want not to be.’  We can focus on loving the self.  After achieving this stage, we can then reinforce the self by loving ourselves more.”

The Visible Man

A Victim No Longer: Foolish Behavior or Empowering the Self?

Readers,

Sometimes, we may engage in behaviors that others consider questionable.  However, deep within the psychological self, why this happens can be found.

Below is such a story.

Dear Visible Man,

I am writing to seek advice regarding something that happened many years ago.  I have tried to forget about it, but the issue continues to return and is now impacting the way I feel about men.

A little about myself:  I am a 40-year-old African-American female. I am single, and I work in a corporate setting.  Ten years ago, while traveling across the United States to meet someone I considered dating, I found myself isolated and alone with him, and I submitted to having sex with him.

Given the circumstances—it happened in darkness and in an area unknown to me– I felt I didn’t have a choice.  I admit that I didn’t clearly indicate to him no out of fear that I would be harmed, but I did on several occasions physically push him away.

At some point, I relented and I had sex with him.  However, my body kept saying no and wanted this ordeal to stop.  In the morning, I was able to obtain help and get away.  I never filed a criminal complaint because I believed I consented.  I never went through counseling because I felt that I created the situation that lead to my experience. I felt that I acted stupidly and as a result, was responsible for what happened.  When telling the story, I have always minimized what happened, often laughing it off.

Recently, I’ve been talking on the phone with someone I met online.  We both feel it’s time for us to meet face to face, but he resides in another state.  For safety reasons, I haven’t let him know where I live or other personal information, just in case things don’t work out. I told him that I would travel to the city in which he resides.

When the time came for me to go, I had a lot of anxiety, and flashes of my previous experience.  It’s disrupted my sleep and my ability to focus on my work.  I find myself having ongoing thoughts about the “what ifs” as well as imagining that this trip will be just like my previous experience.

My family and friends are very much against the idea of me traveling to meet him. But, I really want to go because I do not want to continue to chat online.  I want to know whether we can begin to have something more.  What are your thoughts? How do I overcome these feelings?

Searching For Answers, Seattle, WA

 

Dear Searching,

It is interesting that as you ended your writing, you asked, “What are your thoughts?”  You did not request suggestions or recommendations.  Therefore, I will assume that you remain determined to visit this man, despite the advice of your family and friends.

Before I answer your question, I want you to know that I used the same model that I’m going to share with you.  I hope that in reading this response, you will take the opportunity to follow this model as well.

This model is the “Five Rs of Relief.”

First, after reading your story, I stepped to the side, taking a timeout (RESPITE).

I then focused on “owning my emotions” (REACTION).

From there, I began to process what I was feeling and thinking (REFLECTION).

I am now preparing to share what I am feeling and thinking (RESPONSE).

After writing this and receiving feedback from you and others, I will review what has occurred, what I learned and how I would handle this or a similar situation next time (RE-EVALUATION).

As there are a lot of moving parts to your story, it is essential to clarify the issues, and separate what happened 10 years ago from what is happening today.

  • What is the meaning of the physical and psychological reactions that are occurring?

  • Why are you in denial of the traumatic experience that you endured ten years ago?

  • Why do you ignore the victimization that was a consequence of this horrific experience?

It is my deeply held belief that the psychological self will continue to advocate, seeking balance, and calmness; remembering the traumas, abuses, and the violence that the physical body fights to withstand and the intellectual mind struggles to forget.

Given this, you must have the willingness to review and reconsider the following statement,

       “At some point, I relented and I had sex with       him.”

This was not sex. This was a violation.  This was clearly an act of sexual assault.

Be willing to ask, given the following wording, where is there an indication of consent?

  • “At some point, I relented….”

  • “..I felt I did not have a choice.”

  • “I did on several occasions physically push him away.”

Clearly, there was no consent given for what happened to you.

Whether or not a criminal charge can be substantiated does not remove the reality that a sexual assault occurred.  Poor judgment or poor decision-making does not make you guilty for the horrific actions of someone else.

Were you victimized?  Consider the following statements:

  • “.. my body kept saying no.. “

  • “.. wanted this ordeal to stop.”

  • I never went through counseling because in what I allowed myself to happen.

  • I was stupid and therefore must assume responsibility.

  • When telling the story, I have always minimized what happened as well as laughing it off.

Yes, there was victimization.  In addition there is denial and avoidance.

  • Why deny something that is so obvious?

  • Why deny counseling?

  • Why avoid the opportunity to heal from such a traumatic experience?

Answer:  No one wants to view themselves as a “victim.”   Being a victim comes with the idea that you are weak, disempowered, or otherwise lacking. When someone is a victim, that individual suffers a loss of esteem, and a wound to how they see themselves.

To make up for this, you may seek to accept “responsibility” for the outcome of the grievous act. This is evident in your denial, avoidance, and minimization of the event, seeking to make it something it is not.

It may be relatively easy to fool others in minimizing the emotional consequences of a traumatic incident.  However, the psychological self continues to replay the trauma, forcing the physical body to deal with what the mind is attempting to forget.

Concluding Words

So, how do you overcome these feelings?  Focus on the following:

  • Advocacy: Make it a priority to speak up for the self—YOUR self.

  • Balance: Balance the experience of the sexual assault with your ongoing life journey. Work towards “letting go” of the incident, instead of forcing the psychological self to forget the traumatic event it survived.

  • Calmness: Bring calmness and continuity to your life.  Do not limit yourself to the label of “survivor of sexual assault.”  Instead, have the willingness to become a driver (empowerment), striver (pace setter) and thriver (achievement) and in doing so walk the journey of self-discovery.

Stop working overtime to overcome the feelings.  These actions are merely forcing the physical body to react and struggle in its response.  Instead, consider the following:

  • Seek mental health counseling

  • Acknowledge the victimization

  • Extend to the psychological self the gift of an apology for the actions of denial and avoidance of the suffering as well

  • Be willing to accept from the psychological self the gift of forgiveness for acceptance of responsibility for an action that was not for you to accept.

If you decide to travel to see this person, take heed to the lessons you learned from the prior incident:

  • Develop a safety plan.  Find a public place to meet, and make sure that you are able to leave anytime you wish.

  • Document significant information regarding this individual i.e. physical address, telephone number, email address etc

  • Provide your own lodging/accommodations, food etc

  • Limit your consumption of alcohol, and remember that if your drink is out of your personal sight, it is no longer your drink. Get another one.

  • Only meet with the individual in public settings.  Never accept an invitation to visit him at his residence.

  • Identify emergency resources in the local area i.e. police, fire etc

  • Provide a daily itinerary to family, friends and the management of the hotel that you are staying.

  • Be in daily contact with friends and family.

  • Create a password in communicating with your family and friends designating that you are either safe or in danger

Empower the self.  Being victimized does not mean that you cannot empower yourself to achieve a safe outcome.   It is clear that others may not understand your reasoning, but what’s essential is that YOU understand why you are initiating this journey. In doing that, make sure that you affirm to the psychological self that you have gained wisdom and learned from the past mistakes.  

“Once burned, we learn. If we do not learn we only assure ourselves that we will be burned again and again and again until …we learn.”

       -Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life 

The Visible Man

Being True To Yourself While Balancing Feelings Of Loss During The Holiday Season

Dear Visible Man,
I recently lost a loved one.  This is my first holiday season without my beloved.  I am not feeling the holiday cheer. I feel like I have to fake the “spirit” i.e. jolliness and laughter.  I don’t want to be a downer and rain on others.  Got any suggestions on getting through this?

Lacking The Spirit,  Seattle, WA

Dear Fellow Traveler,
     This portion of the year is heavy on those of us who have loved ones who are no longer physically among us.  As we enjoy time with the living, we can hold tight to our memories of the deceased. There is plenty of understanding to be had in your journey. But first:
  •  Be kind to the self.
  • Instead of attempting to get “through this,” seek balance in your journey.
  •  Embrace your feelings instead of distancing yourself from your emotions.

      As the holiday season and celebrations approach, you may be consciously or unconsciously preparing the psychological self to react to the grief associated with your loss.  There is the tendency to believe that you are alone, even when you are with others.  Rest assured that many are having the same experiences, but like you, may have chosen not to communicate or share what they are feeling. 

      Grief can be viewed as the deep sorrow that is caused by the loss of a loved one.  In anticipating the grief that is coming, the individual can chose to either react or respond.
     When one reacts, there may be a sense of lack of control.  But, should the individual choose to respond instead, he or she may place the psychological self in a position in which he or she is strategizing and thus able to be empowered.
      So how does one respond to anticipatory grief?
Stay in balance (and in tune) with your emotions.
  • Don’t focus on controlling your emotions or how you feel.  If tears are building within, have the willingness to express them.
  •  Don’t “man up”!  Allow yourself to focus on your human qualities.  Understand there may be feelings of disappointment, frustrations and delays.
  •  Be willing to share feelings of sadness with others.  Instead of seeking ways of distracting yourself from the pain, acknowledge and process it. In sharing with others, you are working to let go of or balance the feelings that are there.
  • Give yourself permission to take a “time out” interacting with or entertaining others.  Be willing to give yourself permission to spend time alone with your thoughts and feelings.

Take care of your (physical) self.

  • Avoid overeating & drinking alcohol as coping mechanisms.
  • Eat and enjoy regular balanced meals.
  • Eat something nutritious before attending a social party.
  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach.  Be aware that alcohol, even combined with  snacks, can still be dangerous.
  • Focus on rest (naps) and maintaining regular sleeping patterns.
  • Create a reasonable exercise program.
  • If feeling rushed, stop and breathe deeply and slowly.  Take the breath from down in the diaphragm.  This will allow immediate feelings of relaxation.
 Take care of your (psychological) self. 
  • Pay attention to the psychological self.
  • Spend time alone.  Take time for meditation, massage or relaxation.
  • Spend time with friends in normal settings.
  • If feelings of depression or anxiety are overwhelming, schedule time for counseling and reflection with a counselor or mental health professional.
       In responding, be sure to reflect not only on what was lost, but also the joy that you had from the loving relationship. Please keep in mind the following:

“When you react, the situation has a hold on you.  When you respond, you have empowered yourself to be reflective and seek balance in the situation.”

 We focus on the journey and not the destination.

The Visible Man

There Is No Going Back. We Can Go Forward, But We Do Not Go Back.

Dear Visible Man:

     I am a 19-year-old African-American sophomore working toward becoming a chemical engineer.  I live in a residence hall on the school campus. I am really getting fed up with the ridiculous remarks that come from the people around me.
     One of my roommates believes that slavery was a good thing (“they had someone to take care of them.”)  Recently, one of my roommates greeted me (in a room FULL of other students) with a “what’s up my niggaz.”  I felt so humiliated.  When I protested, he stated “if your people can say it, why can’t I?”  I have filed a complaint with the campus residence staff and so far nothing has happened.
     After a year of putting up with this crap, I am sick of it and want to knock his teeth out. I know that I will probably wind up in jail.  I have talked to my parents; they are no help. My father wants me to “man up” and stick it out. He tells me that if other black men can stick it out do it, so can I. My mother wants me to come home.  Coming back home would feel like failure.
     I’ve started to drink alcohol, smoke weed, and skip classes.  As one can guess, my grades are dropping.  I will probably end up on academic probation.
     When I left home, I didn’t think it would be this bad.  I feel like a failure.  I want to go back home to my community.  What should I do?

Man Down, Seattle, WA

Dear Young Man,

      I have several things to say to you.  First, I want to extend to you my sincere congratulations on your decision to attend college and pursue your goal of becoming a chemical engineer.  Your decision to do so shows that you have chosen a path that may lead to a bright and successful future.

     Second, take time out for reflection. I call this stopping point the “way station.”  The way station is a place within the psychological self where you can go and give yourself the opportunity to reflect upon the actions you are taking and the experiences that are occurring.

     Third, and most important, do not fall for the trap of “man up.”  The psychological self is talking to you. Please listen to the pain and the wounds that have been impacted upon the self.  To “man up” is a trap that seeks to separate you from the psychological self and serves to either ignore or minimize the reality of both the pain and the emotional wound that you are now responding to.

Having said all of the above, let’s clearly identify the issues that you are responding to:

·      As one of the few African-Americans within the campus residence system, you are feeling extreme isolation and lacking a clear sense of community.

·      You are being impacted psychologically by comments and remarks that are racist and lacking in sensitivity.

·      You are conflicted with your desires to leave the current environment and your desires to fulfill your father’s demand by remaining in school.

·      You want to go back to the life you previously had.  However you feel that to do so will mean that you are a “failure.”

Now, let’s identify the ways you are currently responding to those issues.

·      You want to physically assault the person who is creating this emotional wound.

·      You are using alcohol and marijuana to ease, minimize or ignore the emotional pain you are experiencing.

·      You are skipping your classes, therefore creating the likelihood of being ejected from school due to inability to maintain the required grade point average.

     YOUNG MAN, life is not a rose garden.  Nor is life promised to you.  If you want it, then you must experience the good, the bad and the ugly.

     However, life can be what you want and work for it to be.  As you take your respite at the “way station,” view this as an opportunity to accept ownership of your feelings and in doing so, reinforce acceptance of your direction.  Empower the self to explore the following:

·      Isolation- Identify activities on campus or within the local area that can assist in developing and reinforcing a sense of community.

·      Anger- the emotional feeling of anger is an appropriate response given the “micro-aggression” you have experienced.  Micro-aggression can be defined as constant repetitive assaults that have the potential to lead to a sense of “hyper-alertness” and stress in those individuals being targeted by the offending behavior.

·      Conflict-there may be a state of “open warfare” going on within as you attempt to resolve the disharmony between two incompatible interests, that being fight (man up!) or flight (go back home).

   YOUNG MAN, learn and accept that there is no such thing as “going back.” 

     You can “return” home to visit; however you can “never, ever go back.”  The life you left, the safety and comforts that live in your memory no longer exist.  The person who left home to “explore the world and beyond” has now changed into the person of today. There is no “stepping back into the past.”   However, the “changing person” can continue to transform and in doing so, “journey into the tomorrow,” and experience new comfort and ways to feel safe there.

Framework for Failure (Living in Fear)

·      Drugs & Alcohol are tools to salve the psychological wound and medicate the pain.  The after effect of the intoxication or drug-induced feelings will not resolve the problems that currently exist.

·      Skipping classes will ultimately serve as disempowering—it will hamper your efforts to achieve academic, professional and personal success.

·      Physical Violence may lead to short term satisfaction, but long term regrets. Such actions may lead to academic suspension/expulsion, arrest, and incarceration and serve as a dark cloud as you continue the journey that we know as “LIFE.”  This one action can impact one’s ability to gain employment, obtain credit, buy a home and provide for one’s family.

     YOUNG MAN, The conflict that lies within you is in reality “FEAR.”

     This fear comes from the disconnect between standing up for yourself and your culture through violence and yet knowing that if you do so, you risk making things worse for yourself in the long run. It is the difference between letting this person disrespect you momentarily, and the stark reality that if you react violently, you can adversely impact your own life, which is, in effect, you disrespecting yourself.

     Resolve the conflict by having the willingness to “live with your fear rather than living inyour fear.”  Fear, like other emotions such as joy, happiness, sorrow and laughter, are simply feelings.  It is for the individual to take ownership and learn to “balance” (i.e. live with such feelings.

Framework for Success: (Living with Fear)

·      Communication- In sharing “space” i.e. school/residence/work, you must acknowledge your own vulnerability and exposure to comments that can be on the face based on ignorance (lack of knowledge) or hurtful (with purposeful intent). Show the willingness to “educate” those lacking in knowledge and distance & protect the self from those who seek to inflict hurt and injury.

·      Explore & process your internal conflicts.  Explore the incompatibility that exists. Work towards bringing peace to your internal self.  Contact your local student health services.  Inquire into mental health counseling for support and a safe place to express your feelings.

·      Process your feelings of anger.  Make decisions that will increase your options of success.  Let go of your desire of physical altercation. 

·      Follow up with your grievance to the school officials.  Document your concerns. 

     YOUNG MAN, Process your desire to “man up” or use physical violence. Understand that such desires are traps, and are manifestations of “living in fear” in that it maintains separation from the psychological self, which has been wounded and is experiencing pain.   Such desires reinforce the fear of exploring other ways to resolve conflicts and disagreements.

     Regarding the individual who made the racist remark and afterwards questioned why he and others can’t have the freedom of using such racist language– rather than resort to living in fear, ask yourself what this person seeking from you.

·      Is he really just seeking permission from you to use the racist terms without dealing with the consequences of using the word?

    Rather than accept those feelings of humiliation (reinforced living in fear), engage the individual in a discussion within the same group.  Help him understand that he is free to use any racist terms that are available, but will be held accountable for those terms, and will have to bear those consequences.  Such consequences could include the following:

  •  Loss of relationships with black people
  • The risk of being assaulted by angry individuals who may not choose to partake in intellectual discussion regarding the usage of racist terms
  • Being shunned by other white people who are more culturally sensitive and do not want to associate with a person who they perceive as a racist

     Furthermore, affirm for you and specifically you (as you do not speak for all black people,) that the term is offensive. If he chooses to use racist language, then some people (including you) would consider him to be an offensive person. That’s just reality. He’s now shown himself to be that kind of person, and it is his problem to deal with, not yours.    

     Do not allow this individual to become a victim of physical assault by your hand.  Do not allow yourself to become victimized in a system in which 1 in every 3 African-American males born today can be expected to go prison at some point in their life. 

     Learn from this encounter.  Understand that ignorance (that being, the lack of knowledge) looms along the journey and there will be many more such opportunities for more such experiences to come.

     Have the willingness to transform the view of being a “man down” to being a young man seeking his way, creating his path in the journey we call LIFE.

     YOUNG MAN, in closing, let me share a story.

     In a time long ago, there was a young man, who almost was expelled from graduate school due to almost becoming embroiled in a physical altercation at the internship.  This person was given a second chance to seek a new path.  He took it, and he went on to have a successful academic & professional career as well as a healthy family and marital relationship.  That person was me.

     I am no longer the man I was.  I have become the man I am. There is no going back. However, one can always go forward.  To do so one must be willing to “live with fear” and in doing so let go of the old ways of “living in fear.”  As you sit at the “way station,” you also stand at the “crossroads” where the new path is available to you.

     The “new path” leads to the return to the classroom.  In doing so, you can continue to advance your very promising future.  Or you can continue on the “old road,” isolating, drinking alcohol and getting high and thus continue to living in fear.  The choice is yours. 

What will you do?  Continue what you have started.  Walk your journey and finish the race. 

Living life can be likened to a marathon. Finish the race; don’t worry about coming in first place. Cross the finish line. Just finish the race. Finish what you start.

Ten Flashes of Light For The Journey of Life

The Visible Man

Another Opportunity: Seizing The Moment And Embracing One’s Fears

Dr. Kane,

My childhood was relatively “normal.” However, my current pregnancy has caused me to review how my parents interacted with me, specifically my mother. I saw her get angry a lot, and I am concerned about doing similar things and isolating my child. Can you provide insight on how to best live with this fear, rather than to live in it?

Thanks,

Pensive and Pregnant

 

Dear Double P:
     I would like to extend to you warm congratulations on the pending birth of your child.  It appears from your writing that you may be “living in fear” of repeating the same behavioral patterns parenting your child that occurred during your childhood and adolescent development.  It is without doubt that your parenting assisted in shaping how you view the world of today.
     First, I would like to affirm your “worst” fears. Yes, in regard to parenting, you will at times initiate behaviors that may appear to be either identical or similar to those you saw in your mother.   In your writing, you indicated the following statements:
·      My childhood was relatively “normal”
·      I saw my mother get angry a lot
·      I am concerned about doing similar things and isolating my child
     As I was “listening” for language indicating stressors, it appears that your concerns or “questioning” may lie in the areas of:
·       How to deal with your anger
·       How to avoid isolating your child
·       How to be an effective parent (without creating behaviors that may emotionally impact your child)
     Although it is desirable to be the “perfect parent,” and in doing so making no errors in 24 hour a day parenting (for 18 years), such desires are truly as unrealistic as they are unattainable.  The realities are the following:
·       We will model our parents’ behavior as they likewise, modeled their parents’ behavior.
·       The modeling of one’s parental behavior will be conscious as well as unconscious.
·       Rather than to avoid mistakes (or to deny making mistakes), the initial goal can be to learn from the mistakes while working towards its reduction and ultimate elimination.
·        The secondary goal can be consciously replacing the identified behavior or action with “corrected” or new behavior.
     Let’s return to the portion of your question regarding “living with fear.”  The alternate choice is to “live in fear.”  Living in fear can lead to paralyzing feelings of doubt in one’s abilities and lead you to return to the pattern of “old behaviors” that are known and used by the generations of parents before you.
     However, you can also choose to “live with fear,” meaning that you will make mistakes, and in this acknowledgment, be able to free yourself from the turmoil that you are creating within the “psychological self.”  In doing so, you can achieve for yourself what your parents may have been unable to due to ignorance (that is, lack of knowledge): the ability to embrace your fears.  As you embrace these fears, do so with the willingness to forgive “yourself” as you seek to replace old behaviors with new ones.
     I would recommend that you consider the utilization of a cognitive behavioral model that I have created.  It is entitled “The Five R’s of Relief.  It has five distinct stages that pace well together. These include the following:
·       Respite- (take) a breath; a time out.
·       Reaction- (internalizing) the acceptance and ownership of one’s feelings.
·       Reflection- (processing) the integration of one’s thoughts and actions.
·       Response- (externalizing) expression or sharing of one’s thoughts/actions.
·       Reevaluation- (review) assessment of the outcome and/or impact of one’s actions.
As you prepare yourself for the impending joys and tasks of parenting, I would encourage you to work to view the future with hope and optimism.  I urge patience and more importantly,forgiveness for the mistakes that you will no doubt make.

 

     In closing, as you seek to do more, give more and be more for your child, also be willing to extend the same resources of empowerment for the psychological self.  Create that safe place for the self that one day will be consciously and unconsciously passed to your child.  Seize this very moment!

Faust Part I

“Are you in earnest?  Seize this very minute
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Only engage and then the mind grows heated
Begin it and the work will be completed!”
-Goethe

 

The Visible Man

Decision At The Crossroads: Same Old Road, Or Discovering The New Path?

Dear Visible Man:

     I am seeking to obtain some feedback regarding an incident in which my adult son and I had an intense disagreement.  I became so angry that I got up and left the house.
    To provide some background, my adult son has continued to reside with me since his childhood and adolescence.  For the last several years, he has been unemployed and I have supported him.  I have allowed him to stay at home rent-free and I have picked up the costs for groceries.
    Recently he got a job and since he has income now, I informed him that he would have to pay $300.00 per month rent plus $150.00 for groceries totaling $450.00 per month.  He replied that I was being unreasonable and thus was considering moving out on his own.  I became so angry and needed to cool down so I stormed out of the house.  Later he texted me and stated he would pay the 450.00 per month rent/groceries.
    He still believes that I am being unreasonable.  I feel his logic is stupid.  Am I right or wrong about this?  What are your thoughts on this issue?
     Bewildered Parent Seattle, WA

Dear Readers,

     The story being provided is in reality a trap.  It is a trap set to get the reader “caught up” in taking sides with one person as well as identifying the “bad guy” in the interaction: the father or the son.  The goal for the reader is to not fall for the trap; to be able to look beyond what is being offered as both individuals seek answers to this dilemma—one that occurs daily in many families and households.
     Due to the economic realities of this era, many young adults may find themselves at one time or another, in the following situations:
·       Unable to leave the “nest.”
·       Returning to reside at home, similar to latent adolescence.
·       Seeking financial assistance and other resources from parents.
·       Feelings of failure on the part of both the parent and the adult child.
     There will be, of course, disagreements/conflicts from time to time, the combination of which may or may not be obvious to the observer.  These issues are divided into the following areas:
·       Conscious- the awareness of and responding to one’s surroundings
·       Subconscious-the part of which is not fully aware but which influences one’s action and
feelings
·       Unconscious-occurring in the absence of awareness or thought
 Let’s identify some of the conscious issues:
·       Father and son have different perspectives in regarding how much should be charged for
rent and groceries
·       Father gets angry and storms out the house
·       Son contacts father relenting on the monies being sought
Now, let’s look at the underlying or subconscious issues:
·       The focus on who is right or wrong
·       The message sent and received when the father left the house in anger with the issue
unresolved
·       Communication styles of father and son
Finally, let’s identify the unconscious issues:
·       Fear of the unknown
·       Lack of comfort zone
·       Beyond the attained experience
     In the journey known as life, I believe the father and son have arrived at the “Crossroads.”  The signs posted at the divide are marked “OLD ROAD” and “NEW PATH.”
     My assumption is that since the adult son has continued to reside with the father since the beginning of his life without a break in the timeline, each time the two individuals reach the Crossroads (that is, enter into conflict), both make the unilateral decision to continue down the same “old road,” where the same things interchange with the same behaviors (i.e. shouting, name calling, exiting the conflict) and yet expecting a miracle, that being that something different is going to occur.
   One may be quick to label this repetitive behavior and expectations as either “insane or stupid.”  To do so would result in the reader committing another error which is in reality the “trap;” a strategy, set up by the “larger group,” (i.e. family, community and society), so that the individuals involved fail to examine the consequences of their own behavior.
    At any point, the “larger group” could mediate the conflict and provide assistance to both individuals.  However, to do so would “empower” the two individuals and consequentially there would be a risk of loss.  Loss of what?  Answer: Resources, numbers, and yet most importantly, power.
    Of the three issues identified earlier–conscious, subconscious, & unconscious– let us focus on the “unconscious.”  All three segments (the larger group, father and son) are engrossed in fear. Father and son are uncomfortable in the formation of the “new relationship” that has now been created i.e., equity in adulthood.  The larger group fears the loss of participation of both the father and the son.
    Within the journey of Life, the crossroads represent conflict, the posted signs are the directions in which the individual and/or group either “wants to” or “needs to” …..GO.   The posted sign of “OLD ROAD” leads to the known, comfortable and lack of change.  It is a road based its travelers living to either survive or exit.  The other posted sign, “NEW PATH” represents the unknown, uncomfortable, and new.  It is a path in which the individual experiences change and discovery.
    The larger group – the traditionalists– will not be of assistance to the father and son due to its fear of impending loss.  Instead, the traditionalists reinforce the fears of the father and son to bind both of them to the group.   Instead of engaging in the same old behaviors of conflicts, name calling and self-debasing i.e. (insane/stupid), the father and son could, if they are willing, embark on a new path of uncovering, discovering and recovering.  In doing so, unlike the larger group, they must want to learn to “live with fear” instead of living in fear.
     What would this new path look like?  It would require the individuals to focus on examining, responding and coming to “acceptance” of the transition of adult development (adolescence into adulthood) and the transformation of the relationship and interaction i.e. (equity and partnership).  Both individuals would be open to learning empowerment strategies, which would reinforce the newly designed relationships.
     Such strategies would include concepts such as the I Factor, in which both parties would learn the strategies for processing, including the following: information, involvement, integration, implementation and impact, and reframing (i.e. respite, reaction, reflection, response and reevaluation).
     The outcome of learning these new tools would be the opportunity to reach common understanding as both continue onward towards their own destinations within the journey we know as LIFE.
·       Will these two individuals come to resolve their issues?
·       Will they stay on the same “old road” or will they seek the “new path?”
·       Will they stay with the “traditionalists” or will they seek to empower themselves?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

FEAR!!

Fear is here…..Forever.

It (fear) never left.
You must choose….
Live in fear….. or ….Live with fear.
Fear is nothing more than an emotion.
Embrace Fear!
Embrace me.

The Visible Man

Self-Acceptance: The Journey of Loving The Self

Dear Visible Man,

I want to share an experience with you that happened at my workplace.  I was in a situation in which my workgroup was receiving coaching on interpersonal skills development.
I shared with the group that I recently informed my daughter that I would provide financial support by directly paying for daycare for my granddaughter.  The HR facilitator interrupted, stating that she was disappointed in me and that I was wrong to do so and that if I continue to provide financial support, my daughter would never learn to stand on her own.

     I informed her that I would never allow my grandchild to suffer, especially when I had the financial resources to assist her.  The HR facilitator added that there was no reason for me to be angry and that she was just sharing her opinion.

     At the time, I was not angry, I was simply being passionate and stating my views.  I then got angry and immediately shut down.  I left the meeting feeling sad and confused.  Her statement of being disappointed in me left me feeling confused because I felt I was doing the right thing for my daughter and granddaughter.

     I am the only African American woman in my workgroup and I feel that the whites in the group are always misunderstanding me.  Do you consider this to be racist?

Grandma, Tacoma WA

Dear Grandmother,
      First I would like to congratulate you on the wellness of your grandchild.  There is a clear statement of love and concern for the welfare of both daughter and grandchild. Now let’s identify the issues that are stated in your commentary:

·      Question of racism within the HR facilitator’s behavior
·      The decision to provide financial assistance for the well-being of your grandchild
·      Your feelings of sadness and confusion

     It does not support the group process when the HR facilitator shares personal disappointment or makes judgments regarding the affairs of another’s person’s life or experiences.  From what is being presented here, there is no indication that the HR facilitator is affirming to any belief of racial superiority or inferiority.
     From this standpoint, there is a concern as to the HR facilitator’s skills regarding the process and dynamics of group work.  Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity as to the intent or potential outcome of the sharing of personal stories that are outside the context of the workplace environment.
    Understanding that you are the only African-American in your workgroup, let’s give your colleagues the benefit of ignorance.  Allow yourself more opportunities of observation and reflection before labeling their misunderstanding about you as racist.
    A way to provide awareness is through information that can be extended as “knowledge.”  It may be beneficial to explore some of what you experienced through the lens of differences in philosophies regarding raising children.
    Specifically, as you indicated when you spoke, you spoke with passion and energy regarding your love and concern about your family.  Rather than focus on the question of whether her interpretation of your actions as being racist, let’s focus on the “disconnect” and its proceeding outcome. In this case, the disconnection occurred following the sharing of different philosophies creating distance or shutting down communications between the two individuals.
     Individuals have many thoughts in providing aid to family members.  As a clinician, I am firmly committed to the concept of empowerment, in this case, empowering your daughter to care for her child.  However, to what end?  Does this mean the child should suffer as the parent learns to improve one’s parenting skills?  Does the grandparent stand by idle and do nothing? Especially when financial resources are available?
     Again, this must be taken in consideration of differences in philosophies in raising children.  It may be in a given situation that the philosophy of the HR facilitator or yourself would be successful.  Furthermore, if we can accept the premise that “one shoe does not fit all,” then we also accept the premise of there being no right or wrong in the difference in philosophies. It is for the individual to come to terms with what direction he or she will decide to go.
     Having spent time on the earlier concerns, let’s address the third and final issue—your feelings of sadness and confusion.  It appears that you may be placing more value on how or what the HR facilitator thinks or feels about you and less value on how or what you think (or feel) about yourself.
      Can it be that the real issue here is about acceptance?  Or self-acceptance? Or, not loving the self?
     Ask yourself, do you have belief, faith and trust in your journey?  Are you willing to be responsible, be accountable, and respond to the consequences of the decisions made during the journey?  If the answers are yes, then the opinions of others (including the HR facilitator) matter far less than what you think or feel about your journey.
      In closing, I would ask you to remember that the life you call your own is “your journey.” Be it long or short, it remains yours to experience.
      Work towards self-acceptance of your life; develop a list of “the wants” you seek. Experience the joys that life holds for you.
 Loving The Self
As much as I love you
I love me more
Loving me more
Does not mean
I love you less
It only means
That I love me more.
More.
 The Visible Man

It Is Not About Ethnicity Or Race: Holding On To Shame And Fear Within The Psychological Self

Dear Visible Man,
I was recently reading a news article in which a public school banned a little black girl from school for wearing braids.  I was surprised that public schools would do so given the focus on diversity in education today.  I was even more shocked to learn that this was a school organized for black students. I thought this was the action of an ignorant white school official.
I had no idea until learning today that the person creating this ridiculous rule was black. I grew up during the strife of the civil rights movement. I am concerned as to how this will impact the next generation.  I find this very confusing.  What do you think about this?

Lee, age 64, Kirkland, WA

Dear Lee,
     I appreciate your writing.  Although you did not indicate the basis of your information, I will assume that you may be referring to the recent news story arising from Tulsa, Oklahoma.  In this story a 7-year-old African-American girl Tiana was banned from school for wearing dreads.  The public school that you referred to is Deborah Brown Community School, a charter school founded by an African-American woman named Deborah Brown.
     The school was created for the purpose of educating a predominantly black student population.  In reviewing the news article of the Associated Press, the school had developed a policy banning dreadlocks, Afros, Mohawks and other “faddish” hairstyles declaring them unacceptable and “potential health hazards.”
     The furor that erupted from this created new stories and responses from around the world.  The school ultimately apologized and rescinded its policy.  The parents transferred the child to another public school.   The news article concluded with an interview with and acknowledgement that the 7 year old had received thousands of emails and phone calls of support from around the world.  When asked by the reporter how she felt, Tiana replied she feels “cared about.”  Truly, this is a heartbreaking news story that has a happy ending.  Did we miss something?
     Yes, it is heartbreaking to learn that a 7-year old child could be barred from school for wearing dreadlocks.   And it was correct that the school official should remove the rule banning the wearing of those hairstyles. And yes, it is heartwarming that thousands of emails and phone calls of support from around the world were received.  Again, did we miss something?
     Although race may be a factor, the underlining issue is fear (and not race). The real issue is fear of the unknown, the fear of doing something different.  Understanding that charter schools are intended for the task of educating a predominantly black student population that the classic public school system has failed, I don’t believe that Ms. Brown’s commitment was in the wrong place.
     As stated in the news article, at the same time, another charter school, Horizon Science Academy in Lorain, OH, implemented a similar policy.  It too rescinded the policy following the backlash of criticism received by the Deborah Brown Community School.  In its response, the dean of students at Horizon stated, “our word choice was a mistake.”
     Word choice?  I am sure that Ms. Deborah Brown or the dean of the other charter school did not wake up one morning, jumping out of bed stating, “Hmm… let’s develop a rule banning wearing dreadlocks.”  I believe what happened is that Ms. Brown and other like-minded school officials are no different from many of us and were simply following the “script.”
     The script??   Yes, the script of the larger group i.e. the traditionalist segment, which believes that in order for African-Americans to market themselves and be successful in the professional or corporate world, they must want to “fit in” and achieve the look of acceptability that professional or corporate culture is seeking.  It is perceivable that the “groupthink” believes that the wearing of dreadlocks, Afros, Mohawks and other “faddish” hairstyles will impact either the ability to gain employment or upward movement on the corporate ladder.  It is this perception that led to the implementation of the hard lined banning of such “faddish hairstyles.”
      Let’s follow the process of the “script” and in doing so deconstruct how fear, using shame, is being viewed.
·              First, there is a segment of the larger group i.e. society (professional & corporate culture) applying external pressure, telling another segment of the larger group i.e. community (“traditionalist” African-Americans), that “your hair, if dreadlocked or faddish, is unacceptable and has potential health hazards.”
·            Second, there is a segment of larger group i.e. community (“traditionalist” African-Americans) applying external pressure, telling another segment of the larger group i.e. family (parents) that “your hair, if dreadlocked or faddish, is unacceptable and has potential health hazards.”
·            Third, there is are traditionalist community mores in the form of school officials applying the external pressure and delivering the message, telling individuals (students) that “your hair, if dreadlocked or faddish, is unacceptable and has potential health hazards.”
    The goal of the script is to enforce the will of the larger group i.e. community (African-American traditionalists). This is done by introducing the concept of shaming the individual. So rather than it being an error (i.e. “our word choice was a mistake,”), it is, in reality, a specific strategy that sacrifices the psychological wellness of the individual for the perceived good of the group.   This strategy has been utilized throughout generations to secure and maintain control over the group.
     In this situation, the “script,” built on a destructive foundation (internalized shame), collapsed.  The larger group of African-American traditionalists, which depends on the loyalty and submissiveness of its members and requires parents to install internalized shame into their children, must instead must now beat a hasty retreat due to the unwillingness of one set of parents (Tiana’s parents) who refuse to reinforce the “internalized shame game” upon their 7-year-old child.  The following uproar in the media exposes the strategy which of course, is now explained away by saying “our word choice was a mistake.”
     I believe that the larger group, the traditionalists, has good intentions.  However, there must be a concern for the outcome of those good intentions.  The traditionalists, in their zeal to prepare a younger generation to enter what may a hostile workplace environment, failed to take into account the damage that they may be inflicting as they seek to internalize shame within the individual.   In this situation, the outcome was traumatic for a 7-year old child.
     Is racism a factor?  No doubt it is. The traditionalists believe that the African-American individual‘s physical presentation is just as key to getting ahead in a racially hostile environment as their hard work. However, the traditionalists are out of step as the young people of today are insisting upon the right to come to the workplace displaying their self-identity and wanting to be evaluated on their performance and individual merit.
     The consequences of shaming behavior sends messages which reinforces young men and women to reject themselves by seeing their natural hair as dirty or unclean.  In doing so, these messages also impact their self-concept, self-esteem and self-confidence and consequently create the unconscious demand to seek other standards in order to obtain the holy grail of “acceptability.”
     Acceptability?   It is recommended that the traditionalists of the African-American community explore the psychological damage that was also inflicted upon themselves by their parents as they sought the Holy Grail i.e. “acceptability by others.”  If indeed the “traditionalist” has arrived at the Holy Grail, then they must seek to answer the following questions:

·       Who am I? Who (or what) have I become?
·       If others reject me, how will I feel about me?
·       How do I feel about me? Do I accept me?
·       How do I show that I accept me?

     The day of the traditionalist is fading.  Yes, there remain holdouts such as the dean of the business school for Hampton University (a historical black university).   This dean has defended and left intact a 12- year old ban on dreadlocks and cornrows for male students, asserting, “the look is not businesslike.”  This dean is an icon of the past, an era in which that generation chose to live in fear and in doing sacrificed the psychological wellness of its children.
     There is a new day coming, a new sun rising over the horizon.  As the traditionalists pass on, they will be replaced by a generation who are willing to “live with fear” and not in fear.  The upcoming generation has an opportunity to grant itself the right that the previous generation, living in fear, was unable to do so.  This is the right to create one’s own path, instead of walking the “same old road” that was designed for the group.  Hopefully this younger generation will learn from the mistakes of their elders.
     This younger generation may decide to arrive at the workplace wearing dreadlocks, Afros, Mohawks and other “faddish” hairstyles.  Unlike the generation before them, they will not have to sacrifice their souls or the wellness of their young.  Rather when they leave the workplace, they will exit with the psychological self, intact, self assured and well loved.
“A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.”
“Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life”
The Visible Man

Self-Acceptance/Self-Validation: Following The Script Or Seeking A Different Path (the one less traveled)

Dear Readers,

     I am writing to extend the gift of an apology regarding the response I gave in the posting of Visible Man (9.23.13), “Letting go of Negativity and Moving On With Life.”  As you may recall, the viewer stated, “I am embarrassed to say that I have only a few black female friends.”  In my response I replied, “I would encourage you not to be embarrassed regarding having only a few black female friends.  Instead I would suggest that you explore the quality and meaning you are seeking in these relationships.”
     My response was partially incorrect.  Although I stand by my suggestion to “explore the quality and meaning you are seeking in these relationships,” there may be a perception that I am either ignoring or minimizing the viewer’s feelings of embarrassment.  It is my error that as I am focusing on answering one part of question, I am unintentionally ignoring the feelings of embarrassment that are being acknowledged and “owned” by the writer.
     So let’s examine the concern regarding embarrassment.  In reviewing the numerous definitions of the word embarrass, these following terms arise:
·       To cause to feel self-conscious or ill at ease; disconcert
·       To feel or cause to feel confusion or fluster
·       To make someone feel nervous, ashamed, or stupid in a social situation.
     Looking at these definitions and applying them to what is being sought by the writer (i.e. “I am embarrassed to say that I have only a few black female friends.”), two concepts—acceptance and validation—immediately come into focus.  Without additional information from the writer, there is the appearance that the individual may have concerns about the following:
·       What does it say about me that I only have a few black friends?
·       How do I feel about myself in only having a few black friends?
·       What will others say, feel or think about me when they realized that I have only a few black friends?
     It would be “normal” to laugh or be dismissive of this person’s feelings of embarrassment.  However, to do so would show one’s ignorance (lack of knowledge) that this person is simply following the “script” in which of being taught by the larger group (or family, community, or society) to place extreme weight on the perceptions of others.  This “pressure” is one of the major ways in which the larger group utilizes to control the behavior, social mores and activities of its members.
     An example of this is the following: the larger group sends repeated messages that this individual is “less than” when she associates with others outside her group.  These messages act as “externalized pressure” (assaults from outside) that become validated by the individual.  As a result of the pressure by the larger group, the individual accepts the larger group’s opinion and thus, the individual is now responding to “internalized pressure” (assaults from within).  The larger group’s goal has been achieved in that the physical presence of the larger group is now not warranted or required.  The work of controlling the individual is now being maintained from within through repetitive questions of self-doubt, self-validation and questioning of the individual’s decisions and choices.
     It is up to the individual to question the pressure being exerted externally as well as internally.   Questions that the individual in this situation can reflect on in this regard include:
·       Regardless of the number of black friends, how do I feel about me?
·       Do I want to judge my relationships on the color of their skin or the content of their character?
·       Regardless of what others say or think about me, what do I feel and think about me?  How do I want to live my life?  Who will choose the relationships in my life?
     It is essential for the individual to understand that the focus of the larger group i.e. family, community, and society does not extend to the wellness of the individual.  Its focus remains on the larger group.  Therefore it is in the act of “self care” that the individual must question, taking ownership and responsibility for “one’s feelings.”
     Following the script?  We all do it so well.   As children and adolescents, we are bombarded with messages from the larger group, whether it comes from parents, peers, teachers, clergy etc.  Once the individual enters “adulthood,” the lessons have been internalized.  A consequence of some these lessons are damage to the psychological foundation that appear in the form of uncertainty and doubtfulness along the journey of life.
     We do have choices.  We can follow the script that has been laid now for us by the larger group.  Or, the individual can choose to question the lessons that have been internalized.  In doing so, the individual works towards seeking to achieve acceptance and validation from within the psychological self.
     It is in adulthood that the individual can challenge the lessons learned, accept responsibility for reformatting one’s psychological foundation and add to validation to the psychological self.  The willingness to do so may depend on one’s want or desire to walk the unknown path where uncertainty and lack of comfort lies ahead or stay to the “well designed road” that created by the larger group with minimal expectations.
     In closing, I am grateful to have the opportunity to provide a more responsive discussion regarding the person’s feelings of embarrassment regarding having only a few black friends. I have come to understand that there are questions that arise from owning one’s feelings:
·       Do I choose my path in deciding my relationships or do I continue to submit to the pressure being exerted by others?
·       Do I have the resolve or resources to process the pressures that come internally or externally?
·       Am I willing to stay to the course now chosen and experience the journey of life which lies ahead?
The question of embarrassment is one that allows the individual to touch the self, and in doing so start the beginning of a new journey.

                                      The Journey

The end of one journey is the beginning of another.

The choice is ours.  We can continue the same old thing, traveling the same road…… and reaching the same outcomes.

Or we can do something new , something different.

We can seek a new path… and in doing so,

Achieve growth, development & empowerment.

The Visible Man

Letting Go Of Negativity And Moving On With Life

Dear Visible Man:

Why do some Black females hang on to negativity and allow this to impact their interactions with other black women? I wonder if this is the reason why relationships don’t work within the black community. The women that I grew up with have become flaky. The older I get, the less patience I have with this type of behavior. I am embarrassed to say that I have only a few black female friends. Do you have any suggestions?

30-year old AA Female, Seattle

Dear Young Woman,
     You have asked a very interesting question.  First, I would encourage you not to be embarrassed regarding having “only a few black female friends”.  Instead I would suggest that you explore the quality and meaning you are seeking in these relationships.
     As to the earlier question regarding black women hanging on to negativity and allowing it to impact their interactions, it is important to remember that the individual brings to the interaction whatever feelings she may feel about herself.  Therefore, if she is “centered,” meaning that her psychological self is reasonably intact (self esteem, self concept and self worth), that resource of positive energy will access the interaction with others.  When the psychological self is not intact, i.e. poor self-esteem, concept, worth, then negative energy will no doubt be a factor in the interaction.
     In your earlier comment, there was an indication that you have grown up with a specific group of women.  Please remember that as an individual grows, there is the capacity to grow in directions that are different from other members of the group.   It may be that you have either outgrown the stated goals of the group or that you are moving in a different direction.
     As the individual grows and moves forward into “her being,” there is the desire that other members of the group will be supportive.  However, one of the barriers to this is change, which can induce fear, and thus the group may result to specific behaviors to reinforce group membership or work to punish or expel the individual from the group.
     A way to resolve this is to acknowledge within the psychological self that the individual has come to the crossroads; the journey with this specific group although long and valued, may now have come to an end.  It is time to say farewell and continue walking a path that will be different from the group.  As the individual continues to journey (known as LIFE), the focus will be joining or interacting with new “Travelers” with whom the individual can walk a distance and share in the adventures that are to come.
     It can be difficult for the individual or group members to bring the relationship to conclusion, and consequently, tensions can result.  However the strategy can be to exit with the desire that one day, the members may reunite again.  Nevertheless, it is upon the individual to know when it is time to leave and to have belief, faith and trust in one’s journey.
    Although your underlying question has to do with negativity within the black community, understanding that your concerns are about the community in which you grew up (hence the issue is not about racial grouping), just remember that any community is a magnification of the smaller group.
    Rather than focus on the group, identify your wants for your journey and go forth. Hopefully the group and the community will be there to welcome you upon your return.

“When the relationship/journey is over, it’s over. Look towards the future. A new one will begin.”

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

The Visible Man