Radical Self Care and why every Black woman should do it

This. World. is. Chaotic. 

And I say that *lovingly* because for the bulk of 2020 we have been dealing with crisis after crisis after unbelievable crisis. As a Black American, I honestly don’t know how we’re still able to function. I am mentally, spiritually, and emotionally tired. exhausted even. Now don’t get me wrong! I love being a Black woman and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Yea, shit gets kinda dangerous… but it’s dope. Like hella dope.

And one of those hella dope things is the idea and acknowledgment of magic. No, not the hocus pocus, Harry Potter BS… REAL magic. The way you make something out of nothing. The way you can be soft and strong at the same damn time. The way you can go through heartache and tribulations every other day and yet, find a way to be bright and inspirational for others.

That kinda magic.

There’s this understanding that Black people (Black women in particular) are beautiful, mystical beings that you never truly understand but will always and forever appreciate and love. But that’s why I’m an avid advocate of self-love in the form of self-care… I believe that these ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ด (Us) deserve to be loved and cared for as such.

Radical Thinking

When something is radical it’s usually thought of as an extreme. ๐‘๐€๐ƒ๐ˆ๐‚๐€๐‹ thinking. a ๐‘๐€๐ƒ๐ˆ๐‚๐€๐‹ change. So I suppose it’s a little strange to consider advocating for the importance of self-care within the Black community to be a “radical” thing.  But it is.  It’s a paradigm that has not traditionally been emphasized, let alone supported.  Black women, in particular, are seen as strong and often impenetrable. This is of course something to be proud of. Yet, it also leaves us vulnerable to being mishandled and unprotected.

With the growth in awareness for mental health as a whole, people are becoming more mindful of finding ways to be well and more accepting of the things that help us get there. We’re actively battling stigmas and fighting the good fight, every day, to normalize mental health care. And largely, this movement is working. Whereas talks of therapy and meditation were often met with mistrust and aversion, it’s now become more accepted in conversation and problem-solving.

But what is radical self-care?

Radical Selfcare is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others. It the essence of this idea that you can’t pour into others without filling up your own cup first. So, the reason why we call it “radical” is that you are intentionally moving to the top of your priorities the need to take care of your own mental, physical, and spiritual self. This idea that you should put yourself first in a world that believes this to be synonymous with being “selfish” is why this is “radical”.

And it’s also why we have to change its negative connotation.

Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Jesse Williams

Real Magic

Self-care is the foundation of mental health.

Being mentally healthy is being able to give yourself all the things you need to think, function, and thrive. So it only makes sense that self-care be a part of that process. In practicing radical self-care I think it’s important to not lose the magic you have within you. There’s a delicate line between self-care and selfishness that is very real. however, there’s a very simple thing that separates the two (that I talk about here) and as long as we are mindful of that, it’s all good.

But what do I mean by don’t lose the magic within you?

Jesse Williams GIF by BET Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

A few years ago Jesse Williams was accepting BET’s Humanitarian Award at their awards show. During his acceptance speech, he remembered some recent victims of police brutality and called for systematic changes in policing and our judicial system. Toward the end of his speech, he made a declaration that really sat with me. He said that “just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

For me, that means that I can be my strong, beautiful self and still have problems, issues, and challenges. And it doesn’t make me weak, it makes me human. So, while my struggles make me human, my ability to get through them is what makes me magical. But the only way I can have the “power” to get through the many things this world throws at me is if I am strong in body and mind. And that’s where the benefits of self-care tend to appear.

I’ve only been practicing radical self-care for a few years now. Sure, with a degree in psychology (and now counseling) I’ve always known the benefits of self-care. I’ve even taken moments to “reward” myself with things that make me feel happy and whole. However, as a Black woman, I have this innate drive to nurture. I feel the need to take care of others and make sure that everyone in my life and around me are “ok”…sometimes at the expense of myself.

In recent years I’ve found that I can be just as loving and caring to folks as I want to be AND put myself first. In fact, I’ve found that being mindful that all of my needs are being met makes me better at helping others because they’re able to get the very best of me!

So that’s why I been affectionately referred to as the self-care chick. My advocacy for radical self-care comes from personal experience and I want to share this “cheat code” with my fellow Black women. So yes, put yourself first Sis, and see how much life changes for you.

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