Self esteem

Relationships, Social Media and the Rules of Engagement

You may not want to admit it but nowadays, social media says A LOT about who you are.  We’re obviously long from the days of Instant Messaging our pen pals, but we may have taken a sharp detour into a different place called ‘Instagram: A day in the life of [Insert your name here]’ town. Although navigating this destination can be a bit confusing and there are a multitude of ‘unspoken’ rules about what we can and cannot post, this isn’t totally a bad thing! On social, we stay updated on the people we love most— graduations, new jobs, and major money moves happening in their lives.

And, of course, we also get a chance to socialize our own milestones, some of us taking extra care to snag the flyest pictures of ourselves at [insert location], with our Black Girl Magic hashtags and no-filter flexes…it’s become a lifestyle. And, whether we choose to believe it or not, we’ve steadily welcomed more and more people into our lives with each post and with each caption. We disseminate personal information about who we are and what we’re about in the process. We do it seamlessly and with a touch of a button. So, our platforms tell folks about our values, goals and the things that matter most to us in this life.

So, what happens when someone else steps into our lives? Someone like a life-partner or significant other? Are you jumping at the earliest opportunity to post pictures of the two of you on Instagram in all your #relationshipgoals? Or, are you slower to make your online debut as a full-fledged couple? Or maybe the thought of posting someone else on your profile gives you some real anxiety—for fear that person might not be a permanent fixture in your life.

The real question here is this…
When someone else comes into your life, how are they incorporated, if at all, into your online life and what impact does this have on you?

What are the rules of engagement regarding relationships on social media? Here are some of the questions we’re wondering about. 

  • Do you have conversations with your partner or someone you’re dating about when or if you’ll be acknowledging your relationship online? If there is a difference of opinion here, how might you negotiate it?
  • Does it make you feel some kind of way if your partner would prefer not to have pictures of you or y’all as a couple on their social media?
  • What kinds of conversations, if any, do you have with your partner about their interactions with others online?
  • Do you follow/friend/like your partner across social media channels? Why or why not?
  • Has your relationship been impacted by things that have happened on social media?

We’re curious about these new rules of engagement and what they might mean for our mental health, so share your thoughts with us in the comments or sound off on our social media channels under this post. 

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

It’s time we talk about that relationship of yours. You know, the one that’s been keeping you up at night? Constantly overanalyzing. The one causing you to question your value in this life? The one that has you anxiously checking the gram or Facebook to compare your height, your weight, your job, your success to other women. The one that has you trying (and failing) to validate your worth. In this relationship, negative thoughts consume your mental space day in and day out. And I’m pretty sure you’ve had it up to here. If you’re looking for a sign, beloved, here it is.

Sis, it may be time to re-evaluate some things. That little gadget in your pocket, sending you constant notifications at every minute and every hour of the day reminding you where you fall amongst your followers. How many likes you got that day, reminding you to seek validation from all people other than yourself. That measuring stick you evaluate your life by. Your phone, to put it bluntly. The toxicity has gone on for far too long. But the good thing is, it’s not you.

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According to a recent study by UK disability charity, Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users. This means, if you have feelings of inadequacy, you’re not alone.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re asking you to join us in exploring your relationship with technology. We’ll be engaging in a critical discussion about how you may be internalizing what you’re seeing on social media and in the tech space. We’re going to address how social media impacts our relationships with friends, partners, peers, and even our careers! We want you to join us during this time to be more intentional about the role technology plays in your life.

So stay tuned to the blog and our social media channels throughout this month as we’ll be asking questions and posing challenges that we hope will encourage you to think about your life beyond the character limit.

If you have any thoughts, share them with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGTalksTech.

3 questions if you have trouble celebrating your friend

 

It happens to the best of us! Something major just happened to one of your friends and suddenly you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere. Maybe your relationship dynamic has shifted as a result of this exciting moment for your girl. You find yourself questioning where you are in life. You ask yourself: ‘Why is my friend stepping into this exciting new world and I’ve been in the same place for what feels like forever now?’ Whatever it is, it’s important to know you’re normal. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself if you ever find yourself in a position where supporting or celebrating your friend’s accomplishment feels hard.

  1. Is there somewhere in your life you should be working harder?
    It might be a good idea to take inventory of your life. What do you have going on? Is it better to focus on the ways you can take your opportunities to the next level? Or, is it better to focus on what others around you have going on? Often times, our insecurities are controllable when we allow ourselves to focus on the ways we can improve ourselves. Each step, no matter how small, can get us thinking more positively about our own lives.RELATED: EXERCISE: THE ULTIMATE FORM OF SELF CARE 
  2.  What is coming up for you?
    Is there a sense of grief about an experience you thought you’d have that you didn’t? Perhaps you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant and your friend just announced her pregnancy. Or, you have a friend that landed an amazing new job. Or, she just entered into her first serious relationship and it’s caused the relationship between the two of you to shift. The thing that’s important to remember is that your feelings are valid, they’re not wrong. How you manage it is where it becomes tricky. A great step is to acknowledge your emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever pain you’re feeling as a result of what you think is missing in your life. Confront the fear of not having it at the moment. Then, strategize. Write your goals on paper and plan the best most practical way you can go about achieving them step by step. As soon as you get closer and closer to your goals, the anxiety of not having what someone else has will fade. Don’t believe me? Just try it.
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  3. How can you manage whatever you’re feeling in a way that still allows you to celebrate your friend?
    How would it feel to have a conversation about it? This is the biggest step toward acknowledging your fears or insecurities. Our friends care about us, they are our friends after all. Sometimes they can give us a different perspective. Maybe you were thinking about your friend’s accomplishments one way, but there’s an entirely different side you didn’t know about. Maybe there was a time she felt the same way you’re feeling right now. Whatever it is, talking to her about it is a great way of acknowledging how you feel with the source. It can be one step toward a more positive outlook on your own life.

5 things you didn’t know about suicide

September is National Suicide Awareness Month and the goal for this campaign is to share resources and information so that we are more aware of the signs that someone might be suicidal and how we might be able to help. I’ve found that there tends to be a lot of misinformation about suicide so wanted to take this opportunity to dispel some common myths that continue to pervade our culture.

Black people do die by suicide. Though Black people and Black women specifically have the lowest rates of dying by suicide, it is definitely on the rise and something we need to pay attention to. Suicide is now the 3rd leading cause of death for young Black people between the ages of 15-24. You may have seen recent articles discussing how suicide rates doubled between 1993-2013 for Black youth between the ages of 5-11, and how teen girls are dying by suicide at higher rates.

RELATED: LET’S BE CAREFUL WHEN DISCUSSING SUICIDE

Suicide is not act of selfishness. Many of us have not had significant depressive symptoms or felt the incredible despair that typically accompanies the decision to end one’s life. So, it seems unfathomable that someone would want to end their life. But it’s important to remember that at the point when someone is considering suicide, they often feel like they are a burden on their loved ones and feel like everyone would be better off if they were gone. They often do not see a way through or out of the pain they are experiencing.

Asking if someone is suicidal will not make them suicidal. I can assure you that someone who has not felt suicidal in the past will not become suicidal simply because you ask. Often times, not asking indicates that you can’t handle your friend sharing that level of pain with you. It makes it secretive and like something that should not be shared, which is not what we want to happen with someone who is feeling suicidal. We want them to be open and honest so that we can help them get connected to the help they need.

RELATED: REAL TALK: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

People don’t attempt suicide for attention. All attempts at hurting one’s self should be taken seriously. Even if someone does not seriously intend to kill them self, an attempt is typically a signal that something larger is at play and that professional help is necessary.

People who are suicidal don’t always look depressed. Sometimes a person who has decided to end their life will actually have a bit of an improved mood in the days before their suicide because they are at peace with their decision. We saw this recently when Chester Bennington‘s widow, Talinda, released a video of him laughing and joking with his family days before he died by suicide. She wanted to help shed light on the fact that depression and suicidality don’t only look one way.

Helpful Resources

  • You can talk with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  1-800-273-TALK
  • In the US, you can text with a crisis counselor 24/7 by texting the word TRIBE to 741-741
  • If you’re looking for a therapist in your area, make sure to check out our therapist directory at therapyforblackgirls.com/directory

 

Taking Care of Yourself As A Stepmom

A stepparent is anyone dating or married to a partner with children from a previous relationship. When most people hear the word “stepmom”; many preconceived notions come to mind.  Many people think of stepmothers through the lens of old outdated fairy tales and myths. The reality is that the average stepmother is often, isolated and very much misunderstood by society.

Research shows that stepmothers have a much more difficult experience parenting and step coupling than stepfathers. Many stepmothers are expected to be maternal and nurturing toward their stepchildren, even if their stepchildren are rejecting. Biased gender roles, gender stereotypes, and unrealistic expectations contribute to the difficulty that many stepmothers experience.

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The average stepmother is expected to hold the same role that a biological mother fulfills such as working outside of the home, and performing the majority of the domestic tasks like cooking, cleaning, planning family events and schedules as well as child rearing. According to attachment theory Bonding refers to a very particular type of attachment that occurs when a child is born and developing in utero. It’s natural for a biological mother and father to see themselves reflected in their children. Biological parents can see their child through loving eyes, even in the midst of their child’s challenging behaviors and children have a natural biological bond with their parents.

Stepparents, on the other hand, are newcomers to an already established family dynamic and are outsiders from the onset. Stepfamilies are born out of the loss of a previous relationship. Stepmothers are often expected to parent and nurture children who are grieving their original family and who do not yet have a bond with their stepparent. Stepmothers come into their role, with a partner who may have unrealistic expectations of what a stepmother “should” be.

RELATED: THE BLACK GIRL’S GUIDE TO SELF-CARE

In stepfamilies with single fathers, the responsibilities of child rearing are often transferred from the biological father onto to the stepmother. During this transfer; Stepchildren can become resentful of their stepmother’s new role in the family. Stepmothers often experience the responsibilities of parenting but usually have very little authority related to their stepchildren and their behaviors. It is common after a breakup or divorce for Biological parents to elevate their children as peers and become permissive parents; which leads to more stepparent stepchild conflict and resentment.

Stepmothers can experience high levels of depression; due to the lack of support they may receive from their partners, within their household, and from their community of biological moms. Many biological mothers can vent and express feelings of frustration and overwhelm related to their children, but stepmothers often have the experience of being shamed or silenced when expressing a similar sentiment of their stepchildren.

Tips toward a healthier, realistic Stepfamily dynamic

Establish Healthy Boundaries with your partner:

If your partner is leaving you alone with their children during visitations; and you feel uncomfortable with this; it might be time for a heart to heart. At the beginning of your relationship, it’s best practice for your partner to continue parenting as they did before the two of you became a couple. It takes the average stepfamily  4 to 7 years to function as a traditional family. It’s crucial for you to define your role as a stepmother and to determine which activities you are comfortable participating in and which activities you would like to delegate to your partner. Learning to say no and delegating to your partner regarding their children can be hard because society has a particular perception of how women “should” interact with all children.  

Utilize Self-Compassion:

It’s easy to listen to that inner critic or to allow others to project their ideas onto you regarding your role as a woman and stepmother. You may worry that you are not “doing enough” as a stepmom if you set boundaries, but keep in mind your partner is ultimately responsible for their children. Try not to beat yourself up for needing a break. Try to tap into those passions you once had before this relationship. As women, we tend to put everything into our intimate relationships, but it’s essential to maintain your interests and friends outside of your stepfamily.

If you are a stepparent and are experiencing signs of depression such as sadness, guilt/shame, irritability, low energy and feelings of isolation, please seek help from a licensed professional You are not alone.

 

Shelly Ware is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California specializing in Stepfamily dynamics and Women’s Issues. http://www.mycounselingclinic.com

Celebrating My Fabulousness! It’s My Birthday!

magic

 

Today I am rocking my Black Girls Are Magic tshirt (get yours here) with my favorite wide leg trousers and blasting Beyonce as loud as my speakers will allow because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! I can honestly say that this has been a wild ride of a year. I had my first child, bought my first home with my husband, got a new job, and have started on the incredible journey of this blog so I would say a celebration is in order! That’s right, I’m throwing my own party because sometimes you just have to forget about all the stuff that’s going wrong and focus on what’s going right. Sometimes you have to ignore how the world would like to identify you and pay attention to the fabulousness that is YOU! (more…)