Attending to Our Emotional Needs We Often Ignore

Life has a horrible way of bringing you to your knees.

Some days can feel like a pompous bully who repeatedly takes our lunch money, and pushes us in the mud. The blood in our veins rush through our bodies with vengeance, and our heads blow steam like the tin cans atop a roof.

Black women are known to be the most emotionally resilient women on the planet. We're named the "backbone" of our black men. We're regarded to be the strong ones who hold the family together; in the midst of the emotional detriment the black men experience courageously stomping their feet out into the world. Voicing our frustrations and stress is almost non-existent. And, the times we do express or plight - we're labeled "emotional" or "complainers". We are to keep it together and dare not fall apart, because we have to be an example to our babies in how we carry ourselves and handle life's stressors. We even have to keep our crown from falling off when it gets too damn heavy, otherwise we are not living up to the role of a strong black woman. Head up. Shoulders back. Smile, and wave. But, newsflash: Queens take off their crown in private.

Stress, anxiety, and emotional upset manifest as an energetic response within the body. If you've ever noticed an ache or pain after an argument, or stressful situation at work, this is energetic emotion manifesting itself in your body's tissue. More often than not, I hear many black women complain of aches and pains that have lived in their bodies for years. By the time these women reach the doctor, this energy has already manifested as diabetes, hypertension, or some other related disease. Other types of energetic manifestations are:

  • Back pain

  • Abdominal issues

  • Insomnia

  • Chest pain

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Headaches

  • High blood pressure

Just to name a few.

Emotions are defined as E-nergy in M-otion. Meaning, they need to be moved through the body in order to be released. It's important to recognize your emotions and gain understanding of why you're experiencing them. What is irritating you, or causing your bad mood? Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint what emotion we're experiencing, let alone name the source. Most times, when we're experiencing a certain emotion - such as, agitation, it's because there's an unmet or unexpressed need. We become sensitive and emotionally explosive at seemingly the smallest of occurrences, or misinterpret something someone has sad to us. By failing to recognize our needs, and even more - not attending to our self-care, we begin to feel depleted and resentful. These types of unexpressed emotions create the stress hormone cortisol to flow through the body. When our bodies remain in a stressful state, (flight or fight) and is unable to relax the tension in the muscles - this creates a breeding ground for disease. It is crucial that we give ourselves permission to drop a few spinning plates, before they all collapse.

Here are a few ways I've found helpful in dealing with and processing emotions:

1. Express your feelings. Keeping feelings pint up inside the body causes physical pain. Our thoughts create emotions, and emotions live within the body. How can anyone, especially you recognize your needs if they aren't expressed? Phone a friend. Find a therapist or a trusted confident. Express. This is your birthright, and you have the freedom to do so.

2. Be mindful of your thoughts. Gratitude promotes feel good hormones within the body, and changes your energetic vibe, promoting more vitality and wellbeing. Obsessing over what's wrong in life causes negative feelings and anxiety.

3. Journal. Not everyone enjoys verbally expressing how they feel. Keeping track of your feelings in a journal can bring clarity to emotions, and a positive outlook on life can actually boost your mood.

4. Make time for things you enjoy. One ultimate act of self-care is doing something that brings you joy. What's an activity that you've abandoned, or would like to incorporate more of into your life?

5. Calm yourself. Emotional regulation and stress management ensure a relaxed state of being, even in the midst of stressful situations. Tools such as meditation, listening to music, yoga, and taking a walk are ways to bring emotions back into balance.

Emotional and physical wellbeing are one and the same. Make room for emotions, and show them compassion. Give yourself permission to attend to your self-care, and know your limits. Be honest with yourself, and brave enough to voice your needs. First, take time to recognize what your needs are, because we all know the saying: you can't pour from an empty cup.

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