Tag Archives: mental health

The Mental Health of a Racist

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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.


NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

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 (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  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

Relaunching Therapy – Be Humble

Joanna 8.1.17

My daughter who is teaching me the art of humility daily.

RELAUNCHING THERAPY

A lot has happened in the three years since I last posted.  I got married, gave birth to an adorable baby girl, moved several times, and changed jobs.  In the spring of 2016 I completed yoga teacher training and started my own therapy practice.  Needless to say, it has been equal parts exciting and nerve wrecking, leading me to seek out therapy to process it all (yes therapists also see therapists)!  The purpose of THERAPY is to display how mental skills such as thought reconstruction or mindfulness on the yoga mat can be used in day to day life.  Life has not been short on stressors (like a crying baby all hours of the night); I’d like to share how I am using these skills to reduce my anxiety during life’s many transitions.  Walk with me on this journey to find ways to create peace in your own chaotic world.

BIGGEST LIFE LESSON: SIT DOWN, BE HUMBLE

There are levels to this life… and nothing makes me entitled to instantly be the best.  I talk about this in each therapy session and each yoga class I lead and continue to struggle with giving myself grace as I embrace this concept in my own life.  Having a baby really put this in perspective for me as my body changed in many ways.  Despite my awareness of the need to accept this new body while working towards certain goals, I’m frustrated with my body’s inability to be perfect immediately.  I expect myself to run, jump, flip, and bend in ways I used to and even in ways that I never have before just because it “should.” “Elise,” I say to myself, “It’s been two months.  Go make yourself a seat, sit down, be humble.  There’s levels to this and you are back at level one.”  This is hard for me to listen to because my expectations are not realistic nor fair.

In both therapy and yoga, your perspective impacts everything.  If you plan to move like a master but you are still a novice your plan of action will always fail.  For example, if I continue to approach my postpartum workout plans based on what my body was like when I was 16 years old, I will constantly be disappointed and injured.  However, if I can humble myself and start from where I actually am (creaky knees and all), I have the potential to achieve my goals without injury and in a sustainable fashion for years to come.  Embodying this requires a great deal of humility. Without humility, I can never grow because I am not watering my own plant but one that doesn’t exist.

So I’m pushing myself to start from the ground up.  Literally.  When I practice yoga I am doing mostly floor poses to honor my knees in their current state.  When I get frustrated with myself in my new role as a mom I am practicing self-talk in that very moment to promote acceptance while respecting my desire for change.

TIPS FOR GROWTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY

  • Have an honest conversation with yourself and those who know you well about what your goals are and where you are right now in relation to those goals.
  • Once you have identified your starting point make a clear plan to nurture that space FIRST to cultivate acceptance.  THEN create plans for change.
  • Have mental reminders for self-acceptance with awareness of the desire for growth, honoring both parts of you.  Your wants are just as real your current abilities; denying your desires doesn’t make them go away.   For example, practice self-talk such as “Today I am stretching to take care of my body.  Soon I will be running with strong knees.”
  • Deep breathing to stay connected to the moment.  Try to pair this with a simple yoga pose like child’s pose.  Humility, or self-restraint, can be cultivated with practice by narrowing your attention to the present moment only; this is the opposite of your mind wandering to unfair expectations for that moment.
  • Model this for the kids around you through saying out loud “I want to do ____ but right now I can do ____.”  Adjust your wording to be compatible with the age of the child.  Not only does modeling teach others, it also helps you practice skills with intention.

NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

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 (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  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