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BlaCk - B r I G H t


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Stimulates, Motivates & Educates by Sharing Information, News & V iews Issue 32

B l a c k C h i l d re n w h o Struggle with their Identity How to love yourself!

Do Journalists Stereotype?

(A peak into the heart of a Luton journalist)

Mental Health in Celebrity Culture W h a t ’s a G o o d M o t h e r ?

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Blackbright is appealing to anyone who wants to be involved in the evolution of Blackbright - people who have vision, creative talent, commitment and passion. We want writers who have the ability to uplift a low spirit or who can motivate someone with prose, poems or images. Sometimes just hearing from someone who has been through it, can be encouraging. Blackbright News wants to publish “Hey Look at me now!” articles, i.e., stories that show how you went through trauma, fear or an uncomfortable, painful or embarrassing situation, but “Hey, Look at me now!”

Black - Bright News The Light in the Dark (Sharing information to Stimulate, Educate & Motivate)

I am Myrna Loy, Founder & Publisher of Black-Bright. I have been running Black-Bright with the help of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers from the University of Bedfordshire (Luton Campus), since 2006. Why did I feel qualified to run a magazine like BlackBright News? Well, as a Teacher, I am driven to edify; as a Counsellor, I am empowered to motivate and with my amalgam of creative skills, I instinctively find ways to stimulate curiosity. My HND in Finance & Business Administration evokes my business acumen and as a 3 times self-published author, I am qualified to develop, design and publish an information resource that is inspirational, empowering, which encourages selfreflection and promotes excellence.

Blackbright is for anyone looking for the light in the darkness - whether it be in the form of optimism, hope, awareness or edification. Email:


I was born in London of Jamaican Parents and experienced some situations that made me quite distrustful and rebellious, so my focus as an adult has been to encourage self-knowledge and empower others by illustrating the benefits of self-appreciation. I intend to challenge perceptions we have about ourselves and others, by disclosing experiences and personalities that counteract the stereotype. Over the coming months, I will share life experiences gained during my formative years in London, the Tri-State area of New York and in Luanda, Angola, with the hope that by sharing how I, and others overcame obstacles, it will encourage, motivate and empower those experiencing similar challenges.

Since Blackbright was first p u b l i s h e d i n M ay 2 0 0 6 , B l a c k Bright has received the Black Business Initiative Award; the M a y o r ’s C i t i z e n A w a r d a n d t h e AC C D F C o m mu n i t y Aw a rd fo r its outstanding contribution to the black c o m m u n i t y. Myrna has been called a role model in her community and often asked to mentor young adults to prepare them for life after school.

Black people have often been, and still are, stereotyped in the UK as being loud, lazy, aggressive trouble-makers. Aspiring Black-Britons are either invisible in the black community because they are embarrased by their colour, or they slip under the radar because curiosity is transient. The media perpetuates negative stereotypes through film, news and propaganda. Black-Bright seeks not only to challenge, but redress these views by promoting positive outcomes, publishing the ethics of successful business-minded people, and by sharing inspirational snippets that have subliminal benefits.

Founder, Publisher & Managing Editor: Myrna Loy

Black-Bright focuses on the achievement-centred side of black people, in particular, those who have overcome hardships through determination, focus and faith and who can therefore provide an insight as to how to mirror best practice to acquire relative success.

PAYPAL email: Tel: 01582 721 605

Back Cover Design: Lakshmi Narayan Gupta Back cover & ‘Girls’ Photo taken by Garfield Hall

BLACKBRIGHT NEWS Studio 57 Saywell Road LU2 0QG (for previous issues) or ISSN No. 1751-1909


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Correction to the above Article in Issue 31 Dear Editor, When I read the magazine, I was concerned about the segment about Islamic divorce, which is misinforming to say the least. Firstly the website that was made reference to and was the key source, is not even a court recognised by Muslim scholars or Muslims in general. Not to say that they don’t have scholars, but they don’t by any means represent the overarching Muslim view on divorce. So it’s not really valid. I understand there’s a lot of confusion because not all Muslims practice Islam the way it’s meant to be; therefore there is a difference between what Muslims do, and what Islam says. During prophet Muhammed’s time (peace be upon him), many divorces occured and none of the people were scolded for it. Sometimes there would be women who were divorced or widowed three, four or five times, and they would have no problems in finding someone to marry. We’re talking about women who were both young and old as well here. Women in their fifties or even older on some occasions So Islamically, divorce is disliked by God (not people), and that’s only because of the subsequent effects it creates, i.e., broken homes...etc. Nevertheless it’s not viewed as a sin or a crime, or anything else negative for that matter. Muslims believe God permits it because we are human, and it would be better if two people who are no longer in love, get divorced. As opposed to staying married and becoming miserable, which often results in arguments/fights, cheating...etc. However, culturally speaking, it’s a whole different story - this is where the social stigma comes into play. I know in my culture, if an Asian couple get divorced (generally speaking), they’ll be looked down upon. But this also happens in some Sikh, Hindu, Christian, atheist families, etc. because it’s purely cultural, not religious. Islam embraces culture, but if any parts of a culture contradict an Islamic teaching, that part of the culture needs to be booted out. And as I’m sure you’re aware, not many Asian Muslims practice this! To some Asians, their culture comes first, which is why things such as forced marriages...etc (which are illegal in Islam) are practiced and that is exactly what is so misleading about the ‘Islamic divorce’ text in your last issue, because it’s talking about Asian/Arab (maybe even African) culture, not Islamic culture. (by Shammi, Bedford)


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And finally, there was a word that was used that is highly politically loaded: ‘Islamist’. Can the author please re-think or at least justify the use of this word. I understand that you probably have many writers who write for you. Perhaps this was a one-off writer like me. But for the sake of the integrity and status of the magazine it is probably best for the writer to carry out a more holistic type of research, and reconsider the information that was in the text. It’s obvious it was written with good intention, and I really and truly do appreciate that because Muslims usually get a lot of stick in the media, but it either needs to be edited or taken out because it’s not true.


I hope you understand. My religion means everything to me and I don’t like seeing it misrepresented.


CORRECTION on Islamic Divorce


Black Children & Identity [Steve Stephenson]


Should we add a Listening & Speaking Component to English Exams? [Shawn Kay Williams]


Up Close & Personal with Bev Creagh


In the Blackness - A Poem by Anthony Jules


How to be a Good Mum


Domestic Violence Referrals


Mental Health in Celebrity Culture

By Shammi, Bedford.

DID YOU KNOW… ..that ‘CONTROL FREAKS’ are those people who have feelings of fear, worthlessness, inadequacy and shame . Their feelings of their own self-worth are tied to how well they can get others to bend to their whims and to follow their orders. They have a driving need to get control of their lives, which means controlling circumstances, and people, especially the people from whom they need love and affirmation. Once you start trying to force that kind of control over people you can bet conflict will follow.

Background of Black-Bright & the Founder, Myrna Loy

18. Young People and Their Emotions 20.

Dare Me to Know (DMK Counselling)


Learning to Love Yourself

Control freaks have a low tolerance for any kind of emotional pain. Especially feelings of shame, fear and rejection of what they believe to be right and wrong. When something happens in their life to bring forth these intolerable emotions they find ways to cope, and normally their coping skills mean abuse for those in relationships with the control freak.

Black-Bright has a Counselling Service

[An extract by Cathy Meyer]


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In 1987 Steve worked as Lecturer on the Social Work Programme at University of Central England. He set one of the first examination questions on the subject entitled, “All children are the same and colour does not matter, Discuss” Steve adds, part of the question was about the “Colour-Blind Approach” Black children have different needs that stem from their race, colour, identity and position in British society. Their needs are on two levels, physical and emotional and they are additional to the needs that all children have.


Following the controversy after Colourtelly showed “Why Black British Kids Hate Themselves” The documentary featured Dr Kenneth Clarke and his wife Dr Maime Clarke famous Doll - Test which they conducted in 1939.

He points out that the Doll Test by Clarke and Clarke was replicated by David Milner in Children and Race 1975. (Milner also conducted a follow up in 1983).In 1975 Milner concluded that; “Black British children showed a strong tendency for the dominant white majority and a tendency to devalue their own group.

Steve Stephenson MBE looks at the part, the English Language and the Media plays, in a Black child’s identity. Steve is a Social Worker by profession and was one of the first black people to work in a Fostering and Adoption team in Handsworth Birmingham in 1980’s. During this period he carried out Black or Cultural Identity Work with Black Children in Trans- Racial Placements. (i.e. black children placed with white families) “Many of the children were racially Black but culturally white; they also deny their Blackness as part of their coping mechanism”.

The evidence suggests that Black children internalise the racial values imposed by the dominant white group.

DJ Lady Loy on Jamrock Sundays for Music & Interviews (Franz Job below)


The English language has many negative meanings for the word black including evil, bad wicked. The word white has lots of positive meanings and very few negative ones. (Roget’s Thesaurus dictionary has 88 connotations of ‘black in a bad light.) We all know that a little white lie is quite harmless but a black lie is totally wicked and must be punished. (In Eastenders, Angie said, I ‘told dirty Den a little white lie’ but it was actually a big black lie.)


More evidence of the imbalance of the English language can be seen in children’s stories and rhymes.Take for instance the ugly brown duckling, rejected by all, until he becomes a beauti- Promoting New Music & New Artists email: 4

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ful white swan, or the blonde princess in a tower waiting for the handsome white knight to come along and how often the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is black rather than white. Its no wonder that black children can begin to feel that, ‘being black is hard work’ as a young child was heard to tell his mum. ROLE MODELS

There is always a need to be aware of the role models that we present to children through play equipment. If all the images of black people presented to children resources, are the same as the stereotypical images shown on television, then children are going to believe that black people can only pursue certain careers. This limits the career growth of black children. Unless specific steps are taken to intervene and counter this process, white children will continue to develop a sense of superiority over black children because their choices are so wide, varied and stimulating. (i.e. He Man Master of the Universe and many others are depicted as Caucasian) IMAGES ON PACKAGING

The packaging of play equipment is as important as the toys themselves. Black children are not often seen on the boxes of toys, nappies or any other baby products.(There is evidence that this is changing, with more and more black people in advertisements) This again reinforces the idea that white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair are the accepted ideal. Manufacturers have a vital role to play. As the providers of resources, it is essential that they realise the special responsibility, to all children within our communities. In the development of a child’s identity positive images of people, situations and events which are recognisably part of the child’s history and way of life must be offered, to ensure that they are able to value and respect themselves, whilst believing others to be their equal. We use resources with young children to stimulate and monitor their development and to help lay the foundation for formal education later on. These resources can be used to help provide a sense of identify, role models and positive images in particular for black children. 5

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Please Add A Speaking & Listening Component to the CSEC Dear Editor (of Jamaican Gleaner) I am strongly proposing that the Caribbean Examinations Council add a speaking and listening component to its English language examination at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level.


True ‘multi-cultural’ play only occurs in a society free from racism. This is not the case at present. We live in a society which is made up of people from many different cultures, but in which a different value is placed on each culture, white AngloSaxon being the most highly valued. We must begin to take positive action to counterbalance the harm that is continually being done to all children, but especially those from the less-valued culturesnamely black children. We need to take a positive stand against racism through play, valuing all cultures equally through the resources used with young children.

There are numerous students who are leaving high school with an academic distinction in CSEC English, but are unable to speak the language well, or to actively listen to and understand communications in standard English. Language primarily involves reading, speaking, writing and listening. The English examination administered to our students must, therefore, be strategically designed to test students’ language skills in all the aforementioned areas.

One’s identity is like the foundation stone of a building. If you don’t have a solid foundation you don’t have a building.

In light of this, English language instruction must seek to foster students’ skills in all the primary modes of language so that they can develop as holistic and functional communicators in English.

Steve Stephenson Senior Social Worker

We cannot expect to simply teach our students how to read and write and later expect them to be eloquent speakers and efferent listeners. Remember that language is an active and dynamic tool, and so English language instruction must reflect the myriad of contexts in which this tool will, or may, be utilised in the real world. Let us desist from rote and passive language instruction and assessment, and be active and comprehensive in our approach to the teaching and learning of English as a second language. SHAWNA KAY WILLIAMS The Mico University College Are you shocked that CSEC passes in English language have plummeted from 63.9% in 2011 to 46% in 2012?


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Total Language Immersion the Answer Published in the Jamaica Observer by Shawna Kay Williams Dear Editor, The abysmal results of the 2012 sitting of the CSEC English language examination reflects our students’ perennial struggle with acquiring proficiency in Standard English. Evidently, we must revamp our approach to the teaching of English within our schools. For years, many language pundits have promoted a bilingual approach to the teaching of English. Certainly, bilingual instructions can create an inclusive language classroom setting, while positively affirming our Jamaican Creole. However, with only 46 per cent of our students passing this year’s CSEC English examination, and given the substandard performance of students in English in previous years, we must insist on implementing a system of total language immersion in our schools. A total language immersion approach in our schools would see our students being fully engaged in a strictly Englishspeaking environment. This means that all formal and social discourses in our schools would be in Standard English. This practice would, of course, help to buffer our students’ use of Standard English from the possible interference of their highly Creole-based interactions elsewhere. Indubitably, most of our students are from predominantly Creole- speaking backgrounds. This means that they are already fluent Creole speakers. They therefore need no further stimulation or instruction in their native tongue. Teaching them the Standard English is what should hence be accentuated. Our preparatory schools have, to a large extent, immersed their students in interacting in Standard English. Most of these students have generically attained remarkable fluency in English, even if they are from a Creole-speaking upbringing. We can gradually achieve same in our public schools if we practise total immersion. In order for total language immersion to work, we must also ensure that all our teachers, regardless of their specialization, are competent in Standard English so that they can consistently model the language well for our students. We must therefore emphasise comprehensive language instruction for our teachers during their training. The Jamaican Creole or Patois is not inherently flawed or inferior, but English is an internationally accepted language that is widely readable. Consequently, we must endeavour to advance our students’ capacity to use Standard English to effectively communicate with a global audience.


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Up Close & Personal with Journalist, Beverley Creagh and supportive of her community.

I decided to approach Bev Creagh, who is a Journalist for J P Publishing, (who produces our local paper, the Herald & Post) because I felt she was one of those VIPs who works hard ‘behind the scenes’.

I am very sensitive to human nuances and during the interview I was able to sense whether Bev was just doing a job, or whether she was genuinely interested in what I was sharing with her.

I met Bev Creagh about 7 years ago, when she interviewed me as a Visual Artist exhibiting my work at the Hat Factory in Luton, and 6 months later at Luton Library. I was then interviewed by her again 1 year later, when I started Black-Bright in 2006, and subsequently when ‘The Other Side of Tourism’ was published, so I have had a few professional interactions with her.

Bev Creagh is the real deal, and as a journalist, I don’t feel that she gets enough credit for the work that she does. A very attractive and elegant woman, she works behind the scenes meeting deadlines, meeting people’s wants and needs; discerning what makes a good story as opposed to what makes a great story! There is a lot of responsibility involved, and in meeting people all the time, journalists, like everyone of us, have deeply held beliefs and values, and it is on this premise, that I decided to get up close and personal, with journalist, Bev Creagh - an individual who meets people all the time,

My immediate impression of Bev was that she was warm, friendly, professional and as the years passed, I found her to be not only warm and friendly, but loyal 8

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and has to make judgements based on how the introduction was made, who the person is, whether the information (or news) is credible and newsworthy. Psychologists, writers and seminar leaders tell us that we only have 7 to 17 seconds of interacting with strangers before we form an opinion, while Psychology Professor Dr Frank Bernieri, gives us a generous 30 seconds. Worse yet, I understand that it takes 3 times as long to change their minds about their original perception and this is compounded by only a small percentage of communication involving actual words! Research, once again, shows that only 7%, of communication involves words and that 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact), while 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).

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James Borg states that “human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves”. Albert Mehrabian, another researcher whose 1960s work is the source of these statistics, has stated that this is a misunderstanding of the findings (see Misinterpretation of Mehrabian’s rule), while others assert that “Research has suggested that between 60 and 70 percent of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behavior, so there is a lot triding on the impact of an initial introduction that can throw us way off course if we are not careful!

foR adVeRtisinG enQUiRies please email

Regardless of predictions, it is fair to say that when a journalist goes out to interview people they have never met before, to get stories to report on, it is unlikely that they are conscious of how their values, perceptions and beliefs may determine what they write, but bias is in everyone of us, and will invariably impact the interpretation, if the reporter is not self-evaluating. This interview therefore, is to learn a little about Beverley Creagh and to encourage her to discuss her values, preconceptions, dormant prejudices and to share it with the readers of Black-Bright. Black-Bright: Bev, please tell our readers a little bit about your background and how you got into journalism. Bev: I was born in Durban of Scottish parents and we went to Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) when I was six. Always did well at English at school and won my first competition when I was eight, writing about ‘My visit to the circus.’ Seeing my name in bold in the paper was such a huge excitement ! and I guess that started me on my journalistic journey. Went to

Order your copy of Poetry’s Promise, Poetry’s Teacher and The Other Side of Tourism by Myrna Loy, Special Discounted Rate: £6.99 each OR ALL THREE FOR FIFTEEN POUNDS!! 9

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Scotland to go to university but left to join the Dundee Courier then came home because I was homesick. I couldn’t get a job on the local paper because they were Zambianising but I wrote freelance for The Miner which was an Anglo American corporation newspaper. Did a cadet journalist course on the Salisbury (now Harare) Herald and then worked for women’s pages on the Natal Mercury and Sunday Express in South Africa. Came to England in 1976 and have done various jobs – industrial editing, then contracts with the Daily Mirror (where Marje Proops was my mentor and I also worked with Annie Robinson, who was women’s page editor) and finally WOMAN where I was deputy features editor.

many different cultures and walks of life. And I’ve always found the ordinary people, who’ve done extraordinary things, far more interesting than the various ‘celebrities’ I’ve interviewed over the years. Black-Bright: Share an experience where you entered a reporting situation with one perception and left with another. Bev: The most amazing interview I ever did was with Winnie Mandela. Her title ‘Mother of the Nation’ was just beginning to slip. And while I would never condone what she has done - listening to her life story made me wonder: If the same thing happened to me, how would I react? There you have two people – Nelson and Winnie – and one came out a living saint while the other descended into evil. We’d all like to think that an experience like they had, would make us better people, but I wonder how many would turn out like Nelson, and how many like Winnie? Black-Bright: That is an interesting thought. So how do you feel journalism benefits the community and why do you believe this? Bev: Journalists hold people accountable and I think this is essential in any community. And even though the cult of ‘citizen’ journalism is increasing, you really need someone with the authority and background of a local newspaper to tackle the council, etc. Local newspapers celebrate local successes, showcase local talent and also flag up cases where people are trying to raise money for sick children, etc. I think they’re vital to any community. Black-Bright: What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job role? Bev: It’s a huge advantage ringing anyone and saying ou’re from the local paper: they will (usually!) treat you with respect and answer your questions. You can also (usually!) cut through bureaucracy and can sometimes sort out problems because of the threat of a story appearing in the paper. Black-Bright: How do you manage your prejudices and stereotypes? Bev: I’m sure I must have prejudices and stereotypes but I’m unaware of having a particular ‘managing’ strategy. Black-Bright: Not all journalists think the way you do – please leave us with one piece of advice to anyone in media who is reporting on a particular situa-

Black-Bright: How did you end up working for JP Publishing (Herald & Post)? Bev: I joined JP after my husband died of cancer. I’d been editing the local community newspaper The Village Voice (Lilley, Offley and Cockernhoe) and wrote to John Francis on the offchance they had a vacancy. He asked me to write a feature, which I did, and I worked freelance for a while and was offered a full time job six months later. That was seven years ago and it has been a lifesaver. Black-Bright: As humans, we all stereotype – those convicted of a crime are encouraged to wear a suit and tie to a court hearing because a suit is a symbol of respectability, while someone brandishing tattoos in a court room, could be considered as a thug. What systems or thought processes do you use to prevent this kind of stereotyping? Bev: This is quite a hard question: I don’t think I really stereotype. I’m quite good at judging people and believe you can tell quite a lot from someone’s eyes, rather than what they’re wearing. Black-Bright: Tell our readers one thing you wouldn’t do under any circumstances. Bev: I would never write anything I did not believe to be true. Black-Bright: What kinds of things irritate you in a reporting situation? Bev: When people are too lazy to sort out their own problems and think we can do it for them. And when they waffle and don’t answer the question. Black-Bright: What do you enjoy most about your job. Bev: I love meeting so many different people from so 10

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tion that could easily be stereotyped or lead to stigmatising a section of community. Bev: Listen to what people are saying to you. Black-Bright: What is your experience with people who have mental health issues? Don’t really know anyone who’s had mental health issues. A family member had severe depression some time ago. I sat with her every day for about nine months while she sobbed that her life wasn’t worth living, even though she had a loving husband and four beautiful children. The worst thing was being unable to get through to her. My husband and I were both there for her, holding her, hugging her and telling her it would all be all right in the end – which thank goodness it was. I also had a terrible time after my husband died but had the most amazing support from family and friends. They have walked the road beside me and I feel incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. Thank you very much. Bev, for your openness and honesty and all the support you give to the community. [Article below written by Beveley Creagh]

SPECIAL NOTICE BLACKBRIGHT NEWS is looking for volunteers in the field of journalism, graphic design and photography. We are also seeking regional agents. students who need work experience welcome, but should be interested in magazine publishing and related aspects. EMAIL:


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IN THE BLACKNESS In the Blackness As we reclined together I heard your whisper Take the breath from my lips And let us breathe as one If only for a night Let time Stand still Let it wait to be summoned By the future But for us, now Only the present matter In the Blackness You’ll find my light It shines Just for you by Anthony Jules


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8 Ways to be a good Mother, instead of a Perfect One!

Never hurts her child Always does what is best for child Always puts child’s needs before her own

By Kate Kripke I think it’s fair to say that each one of us enters motherhood with a set of beliefs or expectations about what it means to be a good mother. We develop these beliefs from the pressure of our communities and society as a whole, the experiences with our own parents, and through the expectations of friends, family and media. These outside influences can have so much power and influence over us that when we finally do become mothers ourselves, it is unbearably difficult to listen to our own ideas of what this “good mom” thing is all about.

Always wants to be around her child

So difficult, in fact, that anxiety, depression, and overwhelming emotion can latch on like crazy to our new identity.

Should completely define herself as a person though motherhood

Should always feel that the most important thing in the world is her child Should always be willing to give up anything for her child Should be happy staying home with her kids all day Never resents her child Should feel the only thing she needs in her life to feel happy is her child

Shouldn’t feel bored spending time with her child

I want to share a brief story with you about a mom who I saw in my office this summer. This mom has given me permission to share her process around the topic of being a good mother, because it gives such a clear example of the ways in which perfectionist thinking and unachievable expectations can lead to distress.

Should feel happy and overjoyed every time she looks at her child Should never think about how enjoyable her life was before kids Should be able to handle kids all day without needing breaks (luxury)

Celia* came to my office when her baby was about four months old. She was attractive, articulate, and also very scared by the unpleasant thoughts and anxieties she had been feeling since her baby was born. Celia described sleepless nights of worry, her lack of appetite, fear and insecurity about being alone with her baby, and the pure distress that was accompanying early motherhood. She told me, through tears and obvious guilt, that she was having very scary thoughts of hurting her baby or herself, thoughts that terrified her, she said, because she did not want her baby or herself to be hurt. Celia felt that her thoughts and emotions were out of control and that she was going “crazy.” She described a traumatic delivery in which an emergency C-Section led her to believe that she would not make it through alive. “I realized that I needed to be willing to give up my life for my baby,” she said.

Shouldn’t feel unhappy at night when up with her child As I said to Celia at the time, this list makes me anxious when reading it, and so I can only imagine what it must have felt like to her to believe that all of these things were a necessary part of mothering. The shoulds The shouldn’ts The always’ They make it hard to breathe. Helping her realize this did not take long, and Celia was quick to acknowledge that, when writing these beliefs about motherhood down, these expectations looked high. When I asked her where she learned them, she said that she always believed that this is how her mom felt and what her mom believed when she was growing up. And do you know what her mom said when Celia showed her this “good mother” list? “Oh my … no mother feels this way!”

When Celia’s symptoms were being managed through a combination of medication and therapy support, we began the process of identifying beliefs about motherhood that might be adding to her distress. I have an exercise that I do with moms in my office that asks them to write down all the things that they believe go into being a “good enough” mom. Celia’s first list looked like this:

We worked through this. It was not easy for Celia to come up with a more realistic, comfortable, and fair list of what it means to be a “good enough” mom, but once she was able to really

A “good enough” mom: Loves her child unconditionally 13

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examine what she believes, she came up with this:


A Good Enough Mom does her best to: Woman’s Aid Federation of England 0345023468

Teach her child how to live life to the fullest Be there for her children when they need her Teach her child the importance of self-worth

Women’sAidisanationalcharityworkingtoend domesticabuseagainstwomenandchildren. Women’sAidoffersadviceandsupporttoabused women,includingorganisingsafeplacestostay.

Provide food, shelter, and love Be a good example to her children Make time to have fun with her kids

Refuge 08705995443

Allow room for her children to make mistakes and learn from them Teach her children how to love unconditionally

Acharityworkingtoprovidealifelineforwomen andchildrenwhoexperiencedomesticabuse.Refuge providesadvice,information,support,andofsafe placesforwomenandchildrenexperiencingdomestic abuseorabusetostay.

Pretty big difference, right? No shoulds, shouldn’ts, always’, or nevers. No perfection. Celia is doing much better. She has not had a panic attack in some time and her scary thoughts have decreased. She is more able to access feelings of hope and optimism and she is enjoying her baby more. Her medication is helping with the biochemical imbalances that added to her symptoms of postpartum anxiety and OCD and her more realistic idea of what it means to be a good mother to her kiddo has taken some of the pressure off.

Samaritans 0345909090 Samaritansisavailable24hoursadaytoprovide confidentialemotionalsupportforpeoplewhoare experiencingfeelingsofdistressordespair,including thosewhichmayleadtosuicide.

We all do this. Each of us enters motherhood with some idea of what we “should” do in this new and often overwhelming role. While many of those things may be entirely appropriate, many others may be entirely unachievable . I encourage you to ask yourselves what is it that you believe goes into being a “good enough” mom to your kiddos and to write down your own list. Take note of the “shoulds” and the “always’” and whether or not you are noting ideas that are truly yours or whether they are someone else’s (breastfeeding your baby vs providing nutritious food whenever possible might be a good example), or your assumptions of someone else’s.

Mankind Acharitycampaigningformen’srights,includesa domesticabusehelpline. NSPCC The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of CrueltytoChildren)isaleadingUKcharityspecialisinginchildprotectionandthepreventionofcrueltyto children.Thewebsiteprovidesadviceonchildprotection.

My guess is that each of you is most certainly being a good mother already…

Victim Support 08453030900

Kate Kripke, LCSW Source:


VictimSupportisanationalcharitywhichhelpspeopleaffectedbycrime.Theyprovidefreeandconfidential support to help you deal with your experience, whetherornotyoureportthecrime.Thewebsiteprovideshelpandinformationforvictimsorwitnessesof 14

Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 16

crime. MALE 08450646800 MALEprovidesarangeofservicestoprofessionals frombothstatutory&voluntaryagencies.Theywork inconjunctionwithBrokenRainbow,RESPECT, National24hrDVHelplinewhichisoperatedinpartnershipwithWomen’sAid&Refuge.RESPECT websitehasalinktoMALE: Broken Rainbow BrokenRainbowisaregisteredcharityrunningaUK LGBTdomesticabusehelpline.BrokenRainbow’s helplineis:03009995428 Mon2pm-8pm Wed10am-1pm Thur2pm-8pm National Centre for Domestic Abuse Thischarityspecializesinhelpingvictimsof DomesticAbuseobtaininjunctionsagainsttheirperpetrators. Telephone08448044999 National Domestic Abuse Helpline: Telephone08022000247

Disagreements in a relationship are not only normal but, if constructively resolved, actually strengthen the relationship. It is inevitable that there will be times of sadness, tension, or outright anger between you and your partner. The source of these problems may lie in unrealistic/unreasonable demands, unexplored expectations, or unresolved issues/behaviors in one partner or in the relationship. Resolving conflicts requires honesty, a willingness to consider your partner's perspective even if you don't fully understand it, and lots of communication. Timing Counts. Contrary to previous notions, the best time to resolve a conflict may not be immediately. It is not unusual for one or both partners to need some time to cool off. This "time-out' period can help you avoid saying or doing hurtful things in the heat of the moment, and can help partners more clearly identify what changes are most important. Remember - if you are angry with your partner but don't know what you want yet, it will be nearly impossible for your partner to figure it out! It can be tempting to list your concerns or grievances, but doing so will likely prolong an argument. Do your best to keep the focus on resolving one concern at a time. Adopt a "Win-Win" Position. A "win-win" stance means that your goal is for the relationship, rather than for either partner, to "win" in a conflict situation. Ask yourself: "Is what I am about to say (or do) going to increase or decrease the odds that we'll work this problem out?" (Source Unknown)

Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 17

In short, many celebrities have trouble keeping their problems secret. Media attention must often make things worse. Someone with anorexia who has a photo of themselves on the beach broadcast around the world isn’t exactly going to suddenly feel good about their body. Such voyeuristic and often inaccurate reporting is sadly common when it comes to mental illness, and is not limited to celebrities. But an increasing number of famous individuals are now being open about mental illnesses they may have dealt with, for example actress Gwyneth Paltrow has openly talked about her postnatal depression.

For the general population this openness can be really important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gets mental health issues out there so people take notice. Secondly, when celebs are open about it this reduces stigma and makes having them seem more normal. As a result it is possible that this encourages mental health problems to be uncovered and tackled. A huge proportion of people suffering don’t go and speak to a health professional due to fear and other reasons. Celebrities

Mental Health in a Celebrity Culture

may give people confidence to do so: when Kylie Minogue was fighting breast cancer the number of women getting screened increased. It’s possible that

Tom Richardson

celebrities being open may have the same beneficial effect on mental health.

What do former boxer Frank Bruno, comedienne Ruby Wax, and former labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell have in common? They’re all celebrities who have suf-

However there may be slightly worrying results of this

fered from depression. And perhaps more importantly,

phenomenon: this normalisation of mental illness might

they are all open in the media about their past mental

go too far. In a way some problems have become

health problems.

almost fashionable in recent years. Checking into the priory for a bit of rehab for example seems like a bit of rite of passage for rock stars. Many celebrities such as

Britain is fairly obsessed with celebrities. Go into any

Stephen Fry, Kerry Katona and Catherine Zeta-Jones

newsagents and you can see various magazines and

have said they have bipolar disorder in recent year, so

tabloids telling us about every aspect of famous peo-

much so that there is even a book called ‘You Don’t

ple’s personal lives. Increasingly, mental health prob-

Have to be Famous to Have Manic Depression’. Of

lems seem to be a big part of this. A lot of the time this

course this is true: the vast majority of people with bipo-

is presented in a typically insensitive and ignorant

lar aren’t famous, and the vast majority of celebrities

way: the Sun drew widespread criticism when, in

are not bipolar. But the media mainly talks about these

2003, it had the front page headline ‘Bonkers Bruno

people because they are famous.

Locked Up’. Similarly magazines will often show pictures of thin celebrities who have ‘gone too far’ with the unsubtle implication that they might have an eat-

The result is that we may get a slightly skewed descrip-

ing disorder.

tion of the illness: a neat press release by their publicist


Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 18

which emphasises how well they are doing. In addition

(Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding) being tee-total, com-

famous people tend to be rich, and opt for private care,

pared to the openly addicted Pete Doherty and Amy

rather than getting help with the NHS – not very realistic

Winehouse in the early noughties.

for most people. Many people with bipolar spend recklessly when manic- again not a problem if you are mint-

Also for suicide, which is strongly related to mental ill-

ed. I always notice that the negatives are often underem-

ness, research in Taiwan and China has shown signif-

phasised in celebrities with bipolar, and there are often

icant increases in suicide rates after a high profile

descriptions of the ‘positive’ aspects of their illness, so the

media suicide. Research in western countries has

idea of the ‘creative, tortured genius’ in all of those with

failed to show a similar effect after high profile celebri-

bipolar persists. Some even make light of having this

ty suidices such as Kurt Cobain. Although media

diagnosis by using it for publicity.

reporting still needs to be sensitive to prevent copycat deaths this doesn’t always happen. When former child

Some celebrities use their mental illness for marketing. Is

TV presenter Mark Speight hung himself the grim

this sending the wrong message?

details were given, including some papers having a photo with an arrow so you could see exactly where is body was found.

Many celebrities though do some very good work for mental health awareness. To be fair to Kerry Katona she helped publicise a research project on bipolar at Cardiff

So perhaps this is a double-edged knife. Sometimes

University. Stephen Fry has also made a very good doc-

mental illness in celebrities can lead to distorted or

umentary about bipolar disorder

often simply dangerous reporting in the media. But increasingly it seems that their publicity is being harnessed for good to increase awareness and encour-

Many famous faces have also joined the ‘Time to

age people to seek help. Our national obsession with

Change’ campaign (

celebrities is unlikely to go away, so when one has a

which aims to increase awareness and reduce stigma

problem let’s hope media reports will be understand-

about mental health problems. But there is still a problem

ing rather than judgmental, and use this for public edu-

in that celebrities in our culture are deemed successful:

cation rather than gossip.

therefore this suggests mentally ill people can be very successful. This is a good optimistic message in a way

Some useful sources:

but is sadly not always true.

- You can talk to your GP about any concerns

However, what is perhaps more concerning is the research evidence that the publicity of celebrity mental

- NHS choices: This website has an A-Z of health problems and information on them

health problems can directly influence the general population. Take eating disorders. Celebrities with eating disorders are well publicised in tabloid media and gossip

- The Manic Depression Fellowship is a good source of information on Bipolar Disorder:

mags. Those without eating disorders may also say things which may influence their fans: Kate Moss for example said ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’-

- Talk to Frank: Information about drugs: 0800 77 66 00 TEXT 82111

not particularly helpful for those at risk to eating disorders. Research also shows, a relationship between ‘celebrity worship’ and body image in teenage girls i.e. those who

- National Drink Helpline: 0800 917 8282

are obsessed with celebrities are more likely to have concerns about how they look. For drugs, it has been sug-

- Mind Info Line: This provides confidential information about

gested that a recent decrease in teenage drug use is due to the squeaky-clean nature of young musicians of today


mental health. Phone 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday-Friday) or email

Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 19

21), internalizing disorders (N = 18), and without a behavioral or emotional disorder (N = 16). Emotion language was elicited in response to vignette material prototypical for anger/sadness and fear, to autobiographical experiences, and to an actual emotional challenge. The findings reveal different emphases in the emotion language of internalizing and externalizing youth rather than a relative weakness for externalizing adolescents. Overall, clinical adolescents used fewer emotion terms that were semantically specific for anger, sad, or fear than typical adolescents. The results also show that emotion language is affected differentially for externalizing and internalizing adolescents depending on the emotion domain. Internalizing youth’s emotion language to anger/sad events used inner-directed terms, situational references,

YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEIR EMOTIONS When researchers talk about children and their emotions, they tend to put it in the mental health realm – why is that? Project Katrina in the USA, In the test group of students, about half of whom had lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina during the first week of that school year. They had also collectively had half of their classmates move to other cities after the disaster. The school district had lost a grade school and had an altered schedule through much of the year with limited program and altered faculty. This was a group of children that had been through trauma.

and reduced intensity while their representation of emotions in response to salient threatening material was dominated by terms with a cognitive focus. Externalizing adolescents’ emotion language responses to anger/sad events were more outer directed and intense, and their emotion language in a salient threat situation more orientated to direct affective terms. The results suggest that examining emotion language for specific emotion domains in adolescents with specific disorders will better clarify the role of emotion language in the regulation of emotions than approaches that globalize emotion language competencies or deficits.

This pilot use and focus group study strongly suggests that Project Recover is a potentially effective program for improving knowledge, attitudes and behavior and emotional aspects of mental health in 16 year old high school student victims of traumas associated with hurricane Katrina and other events. Further study and longitudinal analysis is needed but there is a suggested dose effect with a significant change in sleep, fear, isolation at school, ability to concentrate and a statement of liking school. These results and the focus group comments make this an important, useful, engaging and exciting addition as a supplement for schools interested in teaching about or addressing emotional issues, especially in the backdrop of traumatic or stressful situations. Further, this study suggests that independent academic benefits may derive from the sleep, concentration, decreased social isolation in school and more favorable feelings about school. It is possible that merely offering this or similar programs may be sending a message to the student that the school is a place where someone cares and help is available. Further in depth study of the components used in this study, and the many additional features of Project Recover is needed to substantiate these preliminary findings.

Anger is a normal human emotion. It can be caused by anything from a friend’s annoying behavior to worries about personal problems or memories of a troubling life event. When handled in a positive way, anger can help people stand up for themselves and fight injustices. On the other hand, anger can lead to violence and injury when not addressed positively. What is anger? Anger is an emotional state that can range from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Feelings of anger actually produce physical changes in the body such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline.

Pathways is committed to a child and family-centred approach to children’s mental health. The goals and needs of all family members form a core of our work. This study compared the structure and quality of emotion language in adolescents with externalizing disorders (N =


Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 20

Emotions such as stress, sadness or fear may cause someone to feel angry. Tell a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult if you feel: Irritable, grumpy, or in a bad mood more often than not Angry for days at a time - Like you want to hurt yourself or someone else. These feelings could be signs of depression. When does anger become a problem? Laws, social norms, and just plain common sense tell us not to lash out physically or verbally every time something irritates us. Otherwise, we could hurt ourselves and others.

wants and why they want it. Finding common interests. Establish facts and issues that everyone can agree on and determine what is important to each person. (Source: world wide web) Brainstorming possible solutions to the problem. List all options without judging them or feeling that they must be carried out. Try to think of solutions where everyone gains something. Discussing each person’s view of the proposed solutions. Negotiate and try to reach a compromise that is acceptable to everyone involved. Reaching an agreement. Each person should state his or her interpretation of the agreement. Try writing the agreement down and checking back at a later time to see how it is working. What you can do Learn ways to resolve conflicts peacefully and encourage your friends to do the same. Find out about conflict resolution programs in your school or community. In addition (Schwartz 1995): Figure out what methods work for you to control your anger. Talk to an adult you trust if you feel intensely angry, fearful or anxious. Do not carry weapons or associate with people who do. Weapons escalate conflicts and increase the chances of serious harm. Avoid or be cautious in places or situations where conflicts tend to arise, such as crowded hallways, bathrooms, or unsupervised places in a school. Reject taunts for a fight and find a compromise to a dispute rather than resorting to violence. Decide on your options for handling a problem when conflict arises, such as talking the problem out calmly, staying away from certain people, or getting others involved to settle a dispute, such as a teacher, peer mediator, or counselor. Understand that retaliation (getting back at someone in a violent way) is not an effective way to respond to teasing, insults, rough play, and offensive touching (pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, kicking or hitting)

What are some ways to deal with anger? Some people choose to ignore or bottle up anger, but this approach may actually cause more harm because the root problem is never addressed. Instead, try to manage anger so it can become a more positive emotion. Here are some ideas: Relax. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm (your belly, not your chest) and slowly repeat a calming word or phrase like “take it easy.” Think of relaxing experiences, such as sitting on a beach or walking through a forest. Think positively. Remind yourself that the world is not out to get you, but rather you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Problem-solve. Identify the specific problem that is causing the anger and approach it head-on––even if the problem does not have a quick solution. Communicate with others. Angry people tend to jump to conclusions. Slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. At times, criticism may actually be useful to you. Manage stress. Make sure to set aside personal time to deal with the daily stresses of school, activities, and family. Ideas include: Listening to music , Writing in a journal, Exercising, Meditating , Talking about your feelings with someone you trust. Change the scene. Maybe a change of environment would help reduce angry feelings. For example, if your friends are angry frequently and/or make you angry, consider making some new ones who may contribute more to your self-confidence and well-being. Too often, minor disagreements lead to serious violence among teens. In fact, one national survey found that 33 percent of high school students said they had been in a physical fight within the past year (CDC 2004). Conflicts and disagreements are a part of life, but they do not have to end in violence. What is conflict resolution? Conflict resolution is about teaching people new ways to work through and resolve disputes that don’t involve violence. Many schools and community groups offer conflict resolution programs for teens. How does conflict resolution work? Most conflict resolution programs follow a series of steps that include (Crawford and Bodine 1996): Setting ground rules. Agree to work together and set rules such as no name-calling, blaming, yelling or interrupting. Listening. Let each person describe their point of view without interruption. The point is to understand what a person

(Crawford and Bodine 2001).


Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 21

DMK Counselling & Advisory Services uses a Qualified Counsellors and Advisors who offer Life Coach & Mentoring programmes and workshops on motivation, alcohol awareness, finance management, entering the workplace and confidence-building. Some of you have been in an embarrassing situation, suffered injustices, or had an unfortunate period in your life, while others have enjoyed exhilarating and satisfying experiences; whatever it is, constructive or challenging, please share your story now with BlackBright and help encourage or motivate someone who could benefit from your experience or situation – because sometimes, just by realising someone else is going through what you are going through, can make a difference. A problem shared, is a problem halved.

“DARE ME to KNOW” (DMK Counselling & Advisory Service) Contact:

BLACK-BRIGHT IN ASSOCIATION WITH DMK COUNSELLING & ADVISORY SERVICES If you have survived a painful experience and want to share those feelings, emotions, and your journey with others, please contact Myrna Loy, who will treat the information sensitively and confidentially. If you need advice or guidance, our qualified counsellor will respond in Black-Bright, free of charge, if you choose to receive advice that way. If you decide to submit your experience, your name will not be published, unless we have your express permission. Blackbright will not edit your material, unless it contains explicit references or profanities, but will proof-read it and correct any grammatical errors. However, if your submission is about a third party, Black-Bright will only publish materials that have been authenticated and supported by evidence and the source. DMK Counselling & Advisory Services, in association with Black-Bright, aims to support those who are struggling with a particular trauma or depressing situation in their lives, either through offering advice through our Counselling Column, offering 1-2-1 Counselling or referral, however, please note, private 12-1 counselling sessions are offered at an introductory fee of £25 per 6 x 50 minute sessions.

Eguono Otukueku (‘Lisa’) A new Black-Bright Volunteer 20

Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 22

pointments, or fears of future ridicule. Acknowledge your feelings, but work to put them behind you. Cherish what you have learned from your challenges, and how you have changed and grown from them. You can do this by: Decide what lesson it is you were to learn from the experience that produced the memory. There is always a lesson in everything. When you define the lesson you were meant to learn, create a mantra on paper, that you can commit to memory. This mantra should include the experience itself, as well as what you have learned from it. For example, if you have a painful memory of abuse, your mantra can read: “Through the memory of being emotionally abused, I am learning to be a stronger person and I will no longer allow anyone to take advantage of me.”


Forgive yourself. Don’t punish yourself for something you have done in the past. Instead, look at the mistake as a learning experience. Say to yourself now: “I forgive myself for _______.” Go look in a mirror and say it out loud to yourself. Look yourself right in the eyes and speak forgiveness like you mean it. Don’t ever demean or ridicule yourself. If you do, laugh out loud, realizing that was then and this is now. Every day is a new beginning.

We spend so much time waiting to be loved, hoping love will find us, searching, yearning for that special love. Feeling empty and lost without it. Wanting someone to give us love and fill us up. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how life works. Loving yourself is mainly having self-respect which is the only dependable way to create love in your own life to share with others. When you expect love from an external source, and someone or something does not fulfill your void and fantasies, then you will feel worse than before. To be able to be loved, you must love and respect yourself as much as you do others. Understanding the effects of loving yourself will only enhance your ability to love others. By doing so, you are enabling positive energy and allowing for great situations to occur in your life. This guide will help.If you feel as if your life is for nothing, i can tell you that you are 100% wrong! everyday there are people coming in and out of the world, so spend it wisely and respect yourself. Sometimes we feel as if our lives rely on that one person. We think ‘If I do this, he/ she will like me. We tend to waste time avoiding those certain people, and regret it later. We miss them, yearn for their love, and even waste birthday wishes on them. “In order to love someone, you must love yourself.

Post positive statements up some places where you will see them each and every day. “I am beautiful.” or “I have the courage to love.” Read them out loud, every day, at least once, ideally at least ten times each time you notice one of them. Sticky notes are fabulous for such affirmations and goals Sit in front of the mirror. Imagine in the mirror is someone putting you down. Then, practice calmly replying to her, “I do ‘not’ care,” with a smile. Practice it until you truly believe it. Try to look past “material” objects and feelings: We all want a nice house, nice things, someone to share our life with. Find your true wants objectively. Do you crave power, a religion or simply a motive? Sometimes it’s easier to hide the truth from yourself, but figuring out what you really want will help you know yourself better and hopefully aid in answering important questions you often ask yourself.

Treat others with love and respect. Bringing joy to other people’s lives will help you find joy in your own. In addition, those that you treat well will likely repay you with the same kindness. Gradually you will start to feel your worth through the smiles of gratitude. However, don’t just be very kind to people so you can receive royal treatment.

Keep a journal. Write about your experiences, good and bad. When you write down good experiences, allow yourself to feel those feelings. When you remember bad experiences, allow yourself to feel self-compassion. Compassion is not self-pity, but rather willingness to be present/accept with one’s own pain and regret. Most people experienced chronic emotional invalidation growing up; adults shouldn’t expect others to be validating, and need to learn how to validate themselves. Compassion allows us to be present with our pain so it can acknowledged and let go.

Create goodwill and thankfulness by practicing random deeds of kindness. Share your being with others in many ways. Share your knowledge in nice ways or make a small donation to a needy person or to an unfortunate child. Share opportunities for your potential happiness by sharing goals and accomplishments with a special person or a group.

Be Persistent. Work as steadily as you can at loving and accepting yourself just as you are right now. A large part of love is accepting another “as is”. This is no different for yourself—learn to love yourself “as is”. Only after we’ve accepted themselves we might think about changing some less-than desirable characteristics.

Express yourself, perhaps in letters, if that fits your circumstance, or write an article, when you have a topic. Share your ideals, time — or things you have or get. Learn to let go of past events. You deserve a fresh beginning! There are a lot of people out there that have had hard lives/bad beginnings or moments. Don’t close yourself out of grief, disap-


Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 23

Start working toward how and what you want to do and be. Do so with a positive attitude by working toward your higher purposes and greater appreciation of your problems as motivating your finding new and better opportunities. Be enthusiastic and cheerful (appropriately).

thing that you love to do and spend time doing it, you will experience love, joy, and happiness in your heart. That is when you truly connect with your authentic self. As a result you become happier and more loving. Treat yourself like treating your very best friend. How do you treat your very best friend? Do you treat him/her with love, kindness, trust, appreciation, acceptance, and respect? If you can give that to your friend, why don’t you give that to yourself? Practice treating yourself like you treat your very best friend by saying kind words to yourself. Stop calling yourself names. Stop beating yourself up. Give yourself compliments. Know your boundaries and listen deeply to your needs. Always be kind and gentle with yourself.

Don’t define yourself by what you’ve done or do. Celebrate your accomplishments but let go of the things you haven’t...yet? Remember that success is not a destination. Success is making progress (toward the desires of your heart). Accept yourself, and others will follow your lead. You are not your deeds, appearance, or bank balance. Hug Yourself. Show yourself love through a hug by hugging the real you.

Nurture yourself. Self care is very important. Set up some time to be by yourself, just by yourself. Do something that gives you peace, love, and joy with yourself. You can nurture yourself physically by exercising and consuming healthy food. You can nurture yourself emotionally by listening to love songs, painting, or helping others in need. As you give yourself to others and offer help, you receive the gift of love back. You feel good about yourself because you live your life on purpose. You can nurture yourself mentally by reading your favorite books. You can nurture your spiritually by doing meditation.

Be yourself. Be who you really are, express yourself, laugh, play, sing. Don’t be afraid of what others think, they feel the same way and want to express themselves, but are afraid to show it too.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone on this earth is unique. We all have different gifts. When you compare yourself to others, it makes you feel bad about yourself. When you compare yourself to others for what they have, whether it is a car, a house, a mate, children, money, or a job, it makes you feel low self esteem, lose your confidence, and perhaps depressed, envy or jealous. A way to stop comparing yourself to others is by focusing on your own strength. Get to know yourself and discover what is your greatest gift that you are meant to share with the world. Another great way is by practicing gratitude. Be happy for what you have. Really be grateful about everything that you have; people in your life, job, relationships, material, etc. Gratitude keeps your heart open to love. No one is quite like you. Just be you. Be grateful for being the wonderful you. Do the best you can. Be the best you can and love yourself more. Then, you have more love to give to others.

Trust yourself. Don’t just blindly follow other peoples suggestions. Learn to trust who you really are. Think of five positive words that describe you. Try not to use words like *pretty* and *nice*. Try variety. Think about what you really want someone to be like in a relationship. Do those characteristics also apply to you? Practice receiving love. To truly love is to be able to receive it. When someone loves you, does some kind deeds to you, say kind words, give you gifts, or give you compliments, embrace it. Allow yourself to feel the love that has come your way. Know that you are worthy of love. It is important to accept a gift of love by others. You give yourself a chance to learn more about yourself that you are lovable. You give someone a joy of giving by loving you. Another important way is to practice receiving love by saying “I love you” to yourself. Let that love fill your heart. Receive that love that you give to yourself unconditionally.

Stop trying to be perfect. Stop criticizing yourself for being less than perfect. Always do your best, but not reaching perfection is NOT failure. Just follow all the steps above and don’t let anyone’s expectations of you put any pressure on you. Remember that no matter what, you will always be perfect just the way you are, flaws and all.

Practice saying “no”. It is okay to say “no” to people when you do not feel like doing something. Do not feel guilty about it. Just realize that you have the right to do so. This is different from doing things out of love. If you do things out of love and your heart wants to do them, that is a different story. When your heart does not want to do it and you feel like you have to please someone, and make others happy by over extending yourself. Learning how to say “no” is an art. It takes practice. You might say “Thank you for asking. I am not ready to commit to doing anything right now.” You cannot please everyone. When you say “no”, remember to smile sincerely and say “no” gracefully. Do what you love. What do you love to do? If you could find some-


Blackbright_March 2013_Copy of October 2012 3/14/2013 12:30 AM Page 24

Blackbright News Take s us out of the dar kne ss, in to th e ligh t! or email:

Photo of little girl by Garfield Hall Back Cover by Lakshmi Narayan Gupta

Founder & Managing Editor: Myrna Loy


Blackbright News is for anyone who wants to learn more about cultural norms of black people, their ethos, successes and challenges. Topics...