5 Loving ways to manage racial stress.

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In my previous post, I shared Jesse William’s powerful speech from the BET music awards, where he shared the unapologetic truth about our black pain. Many felt empowered at being acknowledged on such a public platform, and his speech along with our appreciation went viral. However like clockwork, it didn’t take long for white supremacy to slap the hope out of our mouths, with an onslaught of black male murders, committed by racist white law enforcement. This erupted into violence, where officers were also killed in the fall out.

As I send virtual condolences to the families of the deceased, I am also deeply concerned about the impact of the video murders of Alton Sterling, and Philandro Castile on our black psyches. One of the most valuable commodities in maintaining white supremacy, is our ongoing traumatisation and emotional abuse. When we remain in this confused state, it’s much easier for us to be manipulated and controlled on mass.

I chose not to watch any of the videos, because seeing my people killed with impunity is to upsetting, and I need to be as present as possible in order to be productive. It’s hard enough that I’ve been trying to finish this post for the last 2 days, but my insomnia and the daily rise in dead bodies meant that I needed to just surrender to being human, and take some time to collect myself, before coming back with something supportive from an emotionally sober place. Now that I have refueled a bit, I’m sharing 5 simple tools to help you manage your racial stress.

Process not projection.

When we’re exposed to this trauma, we can feel powerless, angry and numb as a consequence of the initial racist abuse, and then the secondary social abandonment. Our body reacts to this emotional violence, by generating the energy which prepares us for a fight or flight response. If this is not discharged, it can end up being negatively recycled and projected unconsciously into our closest relationships. This means that our heightened state may cause more irrational responses towards our loved ones. We may also feel resentment, mistrust and anxiety around other white people in our personal and/or professional circles. These feelings are all completely normal, and if we’re able to be honest with ourselves whilst practicing the other tools, we’re less likely to act on them in a destructive way.

Discharge the energy.

Discharging this energy involves doing an activity which will help to process and move the stress outside the body. When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted from very little sleep and still feeling anxious and emotionally numb. However, after 30 mins of Jamaican style movement to some banging Afrobeats, I felt a lot more present and willing to engage the day. Other suggestions include,

  1. Punching pillows or the bed (in private). Set a timer for 1 min, and fill up the time. When I do this exercise, I also like to picture someone who represents my upset. May I appropriately suggest Donald Trump or for my UK people suffering after the rise is racist attacks after Brexit, you can use Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Pick what works for you and pound it out. You’ll finish exhausted, but so much lighter.
  2. Take long, deep, conscious breaths for 3 mins and visualise the negative energy leaving your body.
  3. Rage journaling is where you allow yourself to do some free flow writing about your feelings, cussin’ to the max when necessary! Finish off with some slow breaths and a gratitude entry.

Self – Soothing

Self soothing techniques can really help the recovery process, as you consciously practice behaviors which will reconnect you to yourself. This self care is about self-compassion, being gentle in the same way you would a young child. Use each of your 5 senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and right a list of your favorite things to build a  self-soothing toolkit. You will recognise a lot of these simple techniques, but to practice them more consciously will empower you inside this system of powerlessness.    

 

Discharge (5)

Community

Community spaces, particularly at this traumatic time are incredibly important. Choose one that feels safe with people you trust to share feelings and give support. Religious organisations and culturally specific support or recovery groups can be great resources to find help and explore your feelings. Community empathy from your tribe can be very healing and great for processing our collective grief.

Boundaries

Our personal boundaries mean that we can identify and communicate clearly what is acceptable to us. At this vulnerable time, the natural reaction may be to withdraw and protect ourselves emotionally and psychologically, so understanding where the boundaries are, are an essential part of the healing. It will also help to have an honest discussion with your family about how you will deal with this, and be clear on where your boundaries are as a unit. Consider carefully where your triggers are regarding social media and take a break if needed.

In closing, Jesse Williams explained that ,‘it is not the job of the oppressed to comfort the bystander,’ so if you need to take some temporary time away from your white friendships, give yourself permission to do so. You are under no obligation to justify or engage in conversation about your boundaries with any white supremacist, ‘all lives matter,’ ‘not all white people,’ ‘what about black on black crime,’ ‘not all cops,’ ‘yeah, but he should have moved his right foot,’ rhetoric, which are clear deflections from the truth about the war on black people. It’s your pain, your choice.

Be tender with yourself, till next time

In Service

June

Jesse Williams: Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech. 26th June 2016

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Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that.
Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.

It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.
Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.
Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.
Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.
And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.
Thank you.
Jesse Williams

Do your values belong to you?

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Have you have ever just sat down and thought consciously about what really matters to you? Are you making choices in line with what feels peaceful at soul level? After writing my previous post about the power of legacy and the late Muhammad Ali, I was inspired to write this one as a springboard to get you started building your own.

Values are personal principles that many of us have absorbed without question from our family, community and social environment. We get caught up in doing the ‘right thing’ in line with someone else’s values, even when it doesn’t support us, or sit well in our spirit. If you’re feeling a little confused about which values belong to whom, I’m taking this time with you to get clear on these fundamental principles to build your vision.

Consciously defining our values is an important part of claiming and redefining our identity, especially as we grow. For people of colour, values are particularly important in order to create and maintain a sense of cultural identity, safety, and consistency around resisting the onslaught of racism we experience on a daily basis.There are so many areas where racist ideology is aggressively projected onto us, that we can unknowingly prioritise the values which uphold this dominance, and enable the ongoing subjugation and neglect of our own cultural needs and values.

What often brings us to this point of personal exploration, is a significant life event that calls a halt to us doing, and demands that we pause and think of our being. My pivot point came in the summer of 2007, as I sobbed inside the bottom of my wardrobe clutching a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t having a baby that brought on my tears, but having to face the ugly truth that I had nothing to give my child, except a trunk of recycled dysfunction and my emotional rock bottom. I didn’t know who I was, and was terrified of the kind of parent I would be if I did nothing. I did know, that I wanted to be a great role model both as a parent, and a black woman. I wanted to model a strong sense of self in line with my values, and was willing to go to any lengths for her to stand in her own power.

I began turning this around by first defining what MY values were. Not what my family thinks, not what is socially dominant, but what did I actually think about my position in the world. What did I obsess about? What makes me laugh? What makes me furious and where do I feel love and compassion?

To begin, I Goggled a list of core values and began working through them to see which ones moved me. This clarity was where I began rebuilding my self respect and sketching the blueprint for my future. I wanted to focus on 3 to keep it simple, but there were so many I wanted to keep. I especially struggled to choose between culture, family, spirituality and education which are all key parts of my personal growth. After much deliberation, I finally chose three core values I knew would broadly cover the previous topics I could not whittle down. My final choice is……..  

triple values

On a side note, it’s also important to be mindful and prepared for people in your close circles to question and challenge your new values as you begin implementing changes in line with your vision. I encourage you to stand firm in what you believe and give yourself permission to set gentle boundaries with those who refuse to honour who you have now chosen to be. You don’t have to accept anything that is passed onto you, it’s healthy to question everything and move forward to build the awesome life you deserve.

  

Defining my values was such a powerful exercise for me, that I decided to turn it into a mini ebook, which I’m excited to be offering free to help you begin living the life you want and building the legacy your children deserve.Once completed, you will benefit from the following….

 

  • You’ll make clearer, confident choices about your career, relationships and social environments.
  • You’ll be a lot less stressed because your choices can be made quicker.
  • The clarity will keep you focused on the results and accountable for things which are not in alignment with your list.
  • Your behaviour will now mirror everything that is important to you.
  • You’ll build a stronger family unit as everyone is involved in the process of maintaining these redefined values.

I hope you found this useful and would love to hear your experience of working through my worksheet. You can find the free ebook as promised at the bottom of this post. Please come back and comment to let me know how you got on.

Speak soon

Love and blessings

June

Free Tools

The Inspirational Ali Legacy

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On the 3 June 2016, the great Muhammad Ali became an esteemed ancestor. He not only left a blaze of sporting excellence inside the boxing ring, but also a glorious legacy of truth and integrity inside the black struggle. What I adore most about the Champ, was his commitment to speaking up about racial injustice at a time when black leaders were regularly being murdered by the government for doing so. Despite this, he remained fearless and consistent in fighting to free his people.

 

It was only when I became pregnant that I really started to think seriously about legacy, and what I was doing with my life. What did I inherit? What behaviours would I teach inside our connection, and what wealth would she inherit when I pass? I thought about my slave legacy, the disastrous relationships, my financial illiteracy, and fears and vague notion of values. I knew they were not in line with what I wanted from life, or hers, and then set about writing a plan to build the internal foundation from which to build an abundant legacy my own.

 

Defining your values.

Creating a legacy requires taking consistent actions in line with your values. Values are defined as the personal principles and standards of behaviour by which you live. I found it helpful at first be really clear about what my values were, so I’ve created a worksheet for you in the next post about values, for your own clear definitions. Your life decisions will become so much clearer when you know what you stand for. Get your partner and children involved also, it will be a much more powerful exercise if you do this as a team effort.

 

Fill in the gaps.

Once you’ve completed the worksheet and are clearer about what’s important, you should be able to see any gaps, similarities or differences between the values you may or may not have with your friends and extended family. It’s OK for them to be different and neither party is right or wrong. It just means that you’re giving yourself permission to be your own person and/or family unit. You want to start taking responsibility for the new vision you have for your life.

 

Dream and execute.

Now that you have more of idea of your vision, you can start brainstorming ways to create the life and legacy you want to build. Plan and think consciously about how you can integrate your values into everyday life. Dream big, start small, but be consistent. When I did mine, I realised that I wanted to create a daily morning devotional time for spiritual connection, which honours my ancestors and African spirituality.  It took me a little while to write, and I still tweak it occasionally, but we now spend 30 minutes in the morning with a short preamble, a libation ritual, prayers, meditation, a gratitude list and affirmations to close. My daughter absolutely loves this ritual as it creates a wonderful space for intimacy, positive cultural connection and a peaceful springboard which sets us all up for the day.

 

Be unapologetic.

Before Mohammad Ali died, I was still a little anxious about sharing my black thoughts, because I regularly see successful black entrepreneurs being racially abused during live broadcasts, and none of them even talk specifically about racism. However, after seeing so much recent footage of Ali showing up in his fearless glory, I know I must do what is right and not hide inside the fear. I want my daughter to be proud of me for practicing the same depth of integrity. She also needs to be equipped with the tools to maintain her own racial wellness, so I want her to see the tangible actions I take to produce justice and not be all talk.

 

My commitment to the ongoing black struggle, is to continue to share my experience, hope and truth with a view to building a movement with tangible tools for empowerment and emotional wealth. This, I hope will liberate the individual minds of black people; to heal and build a legacy of greatness for themselves and the community.

 

Every decision you make is another opportunity to build your own legacy. Any pain underneath your why will make you unstoppable. I don’t weep for the death of Ali, I take inspiration from his shining example of what it means to really  live a life of purpose. Today he has been laid to rest and my thoughts are with his family. Rest well Champ, you will always be the greatest!

Simple Self Compassion For Entrepreneur Stress.

Your abundance will reflect your ability to be self compassionateLaunching my business has been THE badass chapter in my life. I felt charged expressing my creativity, and raw stepping into the vulnerability which stretched my business muscles. Despite all the excitement, nothing could have prepared me for the juggernaut of emotions and exhaustion that also came with it. The sleepless nights, the writers block, and fear of being seen (but still wanting to be heard,) ran rampant alongside which web host to use, what marketing strategy to pick, where to find my audience and how to serve my community without starving and so on, and so on.
Inside the initial struggle with overwhelm, I knew I needed  some tangible  tools that would help me stay present in the actions and not be paralysed by the anxiety. I knew that part of the process was pushing through the fear, but I also wanted some simple, mindful ways to honor and process my feelings without feeling like my new venture was a form of self inflicted torture. After trying several different things, the following tools are the ones that kept showing up to keep me calm, present and focused.
1. BUSINESS JOURNAL.
Like anything else we try that’s new, there will always be some anxiety around change, there may also be a fear of failing, or not earning enough to be fully self supporting. This  business  journal  isn’t  about recording meetings or ideas, but to explore the difficult emotions you may be experiencing around taking the action. Without openly acknowledging  your feelings, you could leave yourself vulnerable to self sabotaging behaviors  like procrastination and perfectionism,which will quietly eat away at the self esteem underneath your goals and intentions.
There is something powerful that happens when your brain connects with your heart and transforms energy through the pen.  When I answer the following questions in my journal, I  am able to bring up and discharge the negative energy blocking my ability to take action.
How do you feel about taking the action?
What thoughts come up about taking the action?
Is there an inner self critic talking? What is being said?
How do theses thoughts and feelings manifest in your business?
How would your inner business badass respond to the critic?
Do you need to connect with someone else for feedback or support?
How would love suggest that you approach your next action- (1)
Self reflection will help you understand how you tick and where the triggers are. Honesty in your writing will move you through the negative feelings and help you decide on the next loving action for you and your business. Staying present in the process is a powerful tool for stretching your emotional intelligence as an entrepreneur, and can often result in epic, creative divine downloads.
2. SELF CARE BUDDY.
I often hear about the power of accountability in business mastermind groups or with action buddies. However, sometimes I can find myself workaholically driven by a business action partner, so having someone to commit my self care actions too regularly, means that I am consciously connecting to what I need everyday to take care of myself, instead of just reacting to the demands of my to-do list. There is no right or wrong way to do this and I have used several methods which have all worked. It may be a short 10 min call to check in how you feel and then commit 3 actions that are self compassionate. You could also just text or commit your actions into my Facebook group ‘Yard of greatness,’ as long as the actions are done, that’s all that counts. You’ll be amazed at how great you will feel, and how much more productive you are after doing this for a while.
3. SCHEDULING AND PREPPING SELF CARE.
This is the most important action of all. We all know how important self care is, but so many of us get distracted and often cave in to the demands and busyness of life. If you really want to start thriving in your life, your business and your relationships, this has to be a priority. It can take a little while to get into the habit, but the rewards are serious game changers. I have watched lives and relationships transform when self love is put at the top of the list.
Your abundance will reflect your ability to be self compassionate, so schedule some time out and prepare what you need the day before to make sure it happens. I’d love to hear from you if you have tried any of my suggestions or what you do as alternatives. Tweet me @juneallendotnet if you have found this content useful, and don’t forget to subscribe so we can stay in touch.
Till next time,
Love and Blessings,
June.

Simple mindfulness and sleep deprivation.

With the best will in the world, sometimes things just don’t always go to plan. My to-do list has completely drained me this week so it was really important to listen to myself when things felt overwhelming. In the past, my default has been to shame myself and the negative thinking would have run riot. I had prepped a whole list of things to do today, but after a terrible nights sleep, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to share a break down with you, of how I actually practice simple self compassion and mindfulness in my own life.

Take a power pause.
When I give myself permission to take a few conscious minutes to pause, breath and reflect, I can really get in touch with the thoughts and feelings underneath the overwhelm. This is how I begin to take responsibility for how I feel, instead of dragging the negativity through the day, throwing it over anyone in my path.

Identify your feelings.
We can only change what we are willing to feel and understand. In the stillness, I can own the frustration and anger inside the exhaustion. It’s important not to judge yourself for having any negative feelings, just stay present in the silence and observe how the energy feels inside your body.

Discharge the energy.
As I am present to my irritation, I also understand the importance of discharging the energy so they don’t impact the choices I make during the rest of the day. One of the ways I love to do this is through writing, hence the blog post. I’ve learnt that feelings are just different levels of energy that will teach me who I am, and what I need. The challenge arrives when we ignore them or don’t process them in a healthy way. (I’ll be doing a specific Periscope session and blog on this another time.)

Define how you want to feel?

Once the energy has been released, I’m in a much more peaceful place to make compassionate decisions about what I need and how I want to feel. Simple things like sharing thoughts about why I couldn’t sleep with a friend, listening to some music, being out in nature and playing with my daughter are really easy ways I was able to reconnect and call positive energy into the now.
Lastly, It’s ok to reschedule.
Now that I have processed the energy and made some choices to support how I want to feel, I can also think more critically about rescheduling the rest of the day to create a space this evening for a generous restful wind down. I didn’t want to spend all day wallowing in my sleep deprivation, so I also made a power shake and took my daughter out in the sunshine for a melanin top up on her new bike!

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Are you jumping into your purpose?

 

I watched an inspiring video today by Steve Harvey where he talks about jumping into your purpose. Facing the cliff of uncertainty, but doing it anyway, trusting that the creator is the parachute to catapult you soaring into your greatness.
I’m feeling well chuffed today because all the personal work I’ve done over the last 6 years has led up to this moment. This first blog post is my ‘jump.’ A jump into documenting the legacy of love and wholeness for my family. A leap into receiving my birthright of financial abundance. An opening of my heart to share my experience and hope to those still trapped and lost in their inhibility to love themselves.
Change has been painful and exhausting, but I would go through it all again because the freedom in speaking my truth, showing up inside my black skin, and having my daughter be proud of me has all been worth it.
So now, I’ve jumped. I have begun. This first post is published and I’m  ready to live in my greatness. Are you ready to jump? It’s ok if you’re not. You can start small by just being open to making changes. Each small action is a victory.
I’ll be live streaming on Periscope this week @juneallen with some simple ideas to start practising self compassion. Join me and let’s start building your SOULpower tool kit.

Look forward to seeing you there.
June
p.s. Here’s the link to the Steve Harvey ‘Jump’ video. Enjoy and have a blessed day.