Category Archives: art

The Mental Health of a Racist


This is the face of a black woman in America.  This is the face of a person who is having difficulty reconciling raising a daughter who is culturally sensitive with one who is also socially aware with racial pride.  This is the face of a black woman who worries about her husband daily – a “big black man with dreadlocks” and the antithesis of Eurocentric values visually.  This is the face of a woman who is trying to make sense of the current state of affairs in the United States of America.

The events in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend were disturbing to say the least.  Not sure if I just love a good argument or was taught to always develop empathy but my readings led me to consider what would motivate a person to become a racists.  A complicated and painful history of racial conflict that has yet to be resolved created a vacuum.   The empty space is being filled with hate based rhetoric on all sides.  Minority groups feel the need to develop a strong cultural identity and speak up against years of oppression.  Groups who’s purpose is to protect white history rallied together at an event with the purpose to protect a Confederate monument.  Some of white America feels attacked; they are being torn down much like the monuments of Confederate generals.

In a brief search, there were few articles about how racism impacts the mental health of the oppressor.  I did find an article in Psychology Today from 2010 stating self-esteem, positive distinctiveness (group importance), survival, and meaning may be the pay off from racist ideals.  If there is a “me” then “you” are different and therefore not the priority.  Unchecked this can fuel a belief system demonizing anything that is “other”.  From scanning online bios of White Supremacists such as Richard Spencer, organizational premises of the Nationalist Front or The League of the South, and various news articles I believe a climate of fear is apparent.  There is a message that protection is needed because the changing face of America does not protect their interests.

The issue with this is the idea only white America is entitled to the American dream.  “Their” (white supremacist) interests are entrenched in a history of exclusion, violence, and oppression.  Racists ideals need a group to hate to feel powerful, confident, and to have meaning. Survival of the fittest.  This statement highlights the narcism a group needs to consider itself the fittest and the behavioral motivation to dominate another group to survive.  On a micro level, the individual feels directly attacked by their neighbor based solely on group identity even before a “hello” is exchanged.

Mental Health of Racists

Based on the ideas described above I sense the generational impacts of depression and anxiety on all people groups trying to develop an identity in a nation whose story if full of slanderous speech.  Racially, economically, sexually (gender presentation), and a multiple of other -lys America has divided itself culminating in internal unrests.  National mental health trickles down to the individual.  I glanced at Hillbilly Elegy and plan to read it to learn more about a group of people that are so different from me.  What I gathered from online descriptions is that perceived limited access to resources impacts white people as well as other minority groups and motivates each generation to try to do better.  When you feel unable to provide for your family poor coping skills such as alcoholism and increased vulnerability for mental health issues undoubtedly happen.

I believe if we can heal on the individual level we can heal as a nation.  If each of us tackle self-doubt, feelings of hopelessness, paranoia that “others” are out to get us, or other false cognitions we can build a nation of individuals who feel empowered to produce.  We will be healthy enough to have difficult conversations that produce actual change for the human race as a whole.  With self-empowerment there is no need to base your self-worth, as an individual or as a group, on the back of hate based rhetoric.

Take some time to investigate ways you make yourself feel better by making others feel small.  Heal the individual, heal the  whole.


Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis

Unmet Expectations

I have heard before, and have been a strong proponent, of how important it is to make a goal.  By having something you’re striving for you can find the underlying motivation to keep going.  However, in addition to having a goal it is important to remember two things: is your goal your REAL goal and to consider the stress that comes with unmet expectations.

Most of the time we make goals that are arbitrary like I’m going to weigh this weight or I’m going to make more money.  We do this without actually identifying the core goal: to feel more confident or to have more freedom to do things.  By not having the insight for our REAL goals, we either eventually lose stem because we get distracted or if we meet our goal it doesn’t fulfill our expectations because it wasn’t the thing we were REALLY looking for.

The idea of unmet expectations was something I’ve never thought about before.  This is what can lead us to feeling unsuccessful, worthless, helpless, and generally crappy about ourselves.  We develop the feeling of learned helplessness because nothing we do ever fills the void, our expectations continually don’t get met.  I believe this is because we focus too much on the “what” or “how” and not the real “why” we make a decision to move.  The “what” may evolve into a million different possibilities, but the “why” can be fulfilled by any of them; the key is we have to be flexible.

I don’t DO flexible, at least not anymore.  I have settled into a state of rigidity and patterns that make me feel safe.  The funny things is that I don’t feel safe, I just feel scared of never reaching where I want to be.  What this has actually  done is limit my potential and fill me with that continual feeling of unmet expectations.  My expectations are unmet because my routine does not allow for the “what” or even the “how” to change to reach my “why.” Through a variety of self-healing activities I am constantly pushing myself to let go of the reins and trust I will get to wherever I’m suppose to if I, you guessed it, listen to myself and breathe.  My expectations may not be what is actually going to fulfill me.  I have to let that go and remember my “why” and just keep putting one step in front of the other.

What’s my “why”?  My “why” is to be an example of the healing found with self-expression and encourage others to do the same in whatever way they want to honor their voice.  It does not have to be through art, be flexible on the medium and it will be the right fit for you.  What is your “why” and how can you give yourself permission to loosen up on the “what” or “how”?


-> I’ve been allowing this to translate into my art recently.  Adding to projects I’ve started based on feeling.  I’m liking where it’s going but have no concrete expectation on what it will become.  It is so much less pressure and enjoyable.  I also am finding the more I let go, the better the product is.  Maybe I’m not always right after all.


Body Language and Life’s Unknowns Jillian Martin Herrmann is an amazing artist, blogger, and friend.  Please go to her website and  support her work. Her blog can be found at
Jillian Martin Herrmann is an amazing artist, blogger, and friend. Please go to her website and support her work. Her blog can be found at

This week was full of unknowns.  News of poor family health and acknowledgement of financial strains made stillness almost impossible to find.  Almost.

I made several intentional decisions in this time of uncertainty.  I intentionally focused on listening to my body and translating its language.  Although life can often speak a foreign tongue, leaving you searching for clues, your body language is native to you.  It’s a soft, comforting tone gently nudging you along like your mother’s encouragement.  It takes your intuitions and helps you make them a reality.  It’s honest.

While intentionally focusing on my basic needs (rest and food) I’m also understanding how my body positively responds to more subtle cues.  My body melts into the floor while listening to guitar music, I am reminded of the peace I found playing the piano as a child.  I’m learning to lean into my fiancé’s touch, embracing the tingling feeling that radiates my spine. My body craves these things and by listening to the wrong, louder, and more wordily voice, I have been denying myself.  My body also provides warnings: tense shoulders that continuously slide up my back when my life feels off balance or a bloated stomach when I’ve eaten a nutritionally vacant meal.

If you take a moment to be still and listen, your body will tell you want you need.  I need music, I need love, I need to balance.  Balance is an awareness of both your body language and the environment it lives in.  Balance is acknowledging these things and listening.  No judgment, just listening.  Although my unknowns did not all pan out how I had planned, where I focused my energy this week did grow as expect.  I needed and I’m responding.