Why My Thoughts On Therapy Have Evolved

I always thought that therapy was for those who experienced severe mental health challenges or episodes that inhibited someone from getting through the day to day lives. And so, I never thought it was something to ever be considered, at least not for myself. As many women can relate and especially women of colour, I to prided myself around getting through by reframing, ignoring and burying whatever challenges I did have.

Well, guess what, it caught up...


In the last few years life really shifted and my capacity to handle challenges also shifted. I dealt with the loss of my grandmother, the breakdown of key relationships in my life, and the ending of a long tumultuous relationship. For the first time ever I felt I couldn’t catch my breath.

In that time I began considering therapy and realized the need for a therapist. Not because I couldn’t get through my day or because I didn’t feel hopeful but because I realized I had things I needed to work through.

Often you hear “all you need is support” which is great and I had plenty. I had healthy supportive networks, a large family, close siblings, great circle of friends but even that couldn’t replace what a therapy session could facilitate.


So yes, my thoughts and ideas around therapy have evolved here's what I’ve learned.

You got to go deep or go home

I look at it from the idea that, if you truly want to become your best self you first have to get very clear about the baggage that is holding you back from becoming who you want to be in this world.


Whether it be the insecurities, habits, lies or coverups, understanding the patterns that are not conducive to you achieving you desires is the first step to change. Once you understand the basis of your thoughts, habits, behaviours, then you can figure out what you have to do to counter them.

You got to get over the shame, stigma, and misconceptions

Dr. Brene Brown author and speaker who has done extensive research on Shame, said it best. “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”


I think about the community I come from as an Afro Caribbean woman.  I know in my community, and many other racialized communities, therapy is looked down upon or simply misunderstood. Therapy has been been stigmatized and stereotyped for the “mad” the “sick”, “the weak”. So with that comes a lot of shame to even seek a therapist.


When I was choosing a therapist I first went to one lady about my relationship and felt uncomfortable about it because the dynamic was not natural for me, I was closed off, I felt judged I just came through the door with so many preconceived thoughts about what this was going to be like. This made it hard for me to really open up.


I also learned that there are ways to help persons break the ice or make their first experience with a therapist a little more comfortable. Nothing replaces building a trustful relationship with your therapist. However, upon reflection of my first experience I decided I needed to select a therapist that was able to provide a safer space where I felt I could be vulnerable and who had the cultural background and familiarity as me. I searched out a therapist who was a woman of African descent and had faith-based background. Going into my first meeting with her felt very different and gave me a level of comfort before we even exchanged words. I felt there was a big hurdle jumped the minute I was greeted by her because she already understood the Black woman’s experience. It put me at ease.


Persist

I now look at it similar to a gym membership don’t only go when you need it but think about how you can incorporate into your life for the long term. I say this knowing and understanding access to therapy is a challenge especially for low-income families, single mothers, students, those with precarious status, etc,. More and more innovative solutions are challenging the traditional therapy model and hopefully this continues in the future.

Check out BetterHelp, one of the organizations leveraging tech to allow people across Canada to access therapists and counselling sessions.

https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/

Keep Evolving,

Jessica Rayne,

Cheers to the New Year & Making Your Vision...Reality!

Make Your Vision...Reality!


Thank you for all who were able to come out to the vision board social session earlier this month. Remember to use your vision board as a tool to manifest your desires. Whether that means hanging up in your office or bedroom; spending 2 minutes a day feeling the emotions associated with your vision; or hiding it and taking it out once a week/month to meditate on it and keep your focus. Whatever works best for you. Key is to remember to believe you are worthy of your vision and the emotions it evokes in you.


"When you put your attention on something, you experience more of it. Maybe it is created by a magical force of attention. At the very least, you are going to selectively pay attention to these things you like once you selectively start to gear yourself to focus on them more." 

- Martha Beck, Life Coach, Sociologist, Best-Selling Author

Speaking of Reality...


Remember that Podcast I said we would be launching? 

Empresses On Fire is ready for the world. Empresses on Fire is a podcast created by myself, Catherine Grant, Marvay Malcolm, and Savhanna Rayne. The podcast is dedicated to Black women and women of colour to celebrate our achievements in business and life. Join us for a casual conversation on topics relevant to women of colourand meet some of our very inspirational guests. Listen to our first two episodes on SoundCloud

Empresses On Fire - Episode 00
https://soundcloud.com/empresses-on-fire/empressonfire-episode00


Empresses On Fire - Episode 01
https://soundcloud.com/empresses-on-fire/empressesonfire-episode-01
 

Cheers to the Journey!

Wishing you all the very best for the holidays and the new year! It's been such a pleasure to share 2018 with you all and I hope to continue our journey of entrepreneurship, personal growth and empire building in 2019 and beyond! Cheers to the journey!

With love + gratitude,

Jessica

Are you a Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur or Professional?

It's actually mind-boggling that there are people out there who focus and specialize in one, single area. This approach to leadership and career-building is rapidly becoming outdated. In recent years, terms like "multi-passionate" and “multipotentialite” have begun to spring up in entrepreneurship literature, talks and resources.


"I feel many of us can relate to wasting copious amounts of time thinking about what to do with our lives, how to do it, and what path to pursue"


Embracing this multi-passionate reality, I’ve actually reached a point where the idea of specializing or having my career focused on a particular role or industry is neither realistic nor desirable. Instead of building up in one area, I choose to grow out and become well versed in multiple areas instead. And I’m completely okay with that.


I feel many of us can relate to wasting copious amounts of time thinking about what to do with our lives, how to do it, and what path to pursue when you’re interested in three or more completely unrelated and distinct areas. The idea of specializing in just one often paralyzes us, and stops us from pursuing any of them at all.



"Remember your professional life or work energy can be distributed in various ways"



Looking at modern, successful people, we often see how dynamic they are. They don’t feel the need to excel at one or both of their areas of interest, yet somehow manage to do so in many areas instead. Their courage coupled with their ambition makes it almost impossible to fail; because passion is the real key to success.



So what can you do if you find yourself constantly thinking about the number of paths and passions you have? Do you pursue simultaneously? Sequentially? Flip a coin?


What you do is:


TAKE ACTION!



Truly, I think there is a time you just need to get out of your head and just begin. Remember your professional life or work energy can be distributed in various ways. You may be an Event Planner, a Mortgage Agent, a Health and Wellness Coach, and a Volunteer. Whatever you are, your life takes the shape you give it.



Some debates feel the credibility is in the specialization and the ability to master something, but in the changing world with such constant evolution and innovation, I think we see the benefits and advantages of people who have many different backgrounds and are able to provided a very complex and unique perspective to business.



"It’s important to discover who you are, and then live the life that serves you best."



Author Elizabeth Gilbert did a talk once for Super Soul Session. She highlighted the difference in people. There are people like herself, who are born knowing this is what I love and what I’ll be doing. And then there is the other group who she refers to as “hummingbirds”. They fly from flower to flower, cross-pollinating the world and building complex lives.



Neither one is better than the other, the two are simply different. However, for too long the latter was looked down upon. I, myself, am the second, and as multi-passionate people we often have to incur the criticism of being flighty, flaky, and idealistic. But now as the world grows and changes, I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer how valuable the hummingbirds of the world can be.


It’s important to discover who you are, and then live the life that serves you best. So if you’re a hummingbird, find a way to honour that identity, and do as much as possible with the time you have. Focus can look different on different people; get used to how it looks on you.


For more on the topic check the link below:



With Gratitude,

Jessica


------

Marie Forleo TV
https://www.marieforleo.com/2016/07/multipassionate/

Elizabeth Gilbert - Super Soul Session
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_PSUskgiZU

Emilie Wapnick at TEDxBend
Why some of us don't have one true calling
https://www.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling/up-next

How about we shift the focus and hone our strengths?

For generations, we have been conditioned to focus on our weaknesses, right our wrongs, and round out our flaws. Now, however, there’s been a paradigm shift that is asking us to master our strengths, to continue to hone our talents, and to turn our gifts and natural abilities into something we can put back into the world. We are inspired and encouraged to leave our mark by putting our best skills forward and making something out of them.

 

When it came to sharing my own strengths with my own voice, to owning up to who I believed I was and saying “I am great at this and good at that” my mind blanked
 


A few years ago, I was given a new boss. During our first one to one meeting, he asked me what are my top two towering strengths. For the life of me I could not think of an answer because no one had asked me that before. I was used to people pointing out what they thought my strengths were over the years with quick, nonchalant comments like “Oh wow, you’re great at this” or “Did you know you are really good at that?”, and I had accepted it. When it came to sharing my own strengths with my own voice, to owning up to who I believed I was and saying “I am great at this and good at that” my mind blanked, and my throat went dry.

 

I think part of this is because of the uncertainty we have inside of ourselves about which of our self-perceptions are authentic in reality and which we form for our own egos. I knew that the things others said about me had at least a little credibility, but there was no way to be sure how much. It was impossible, in my brain, to know whether these “strengths” of mine were valid, enhanced by the perception of others, or blown out of proportion by my own self-image.

 

The reality is, if we spent all that time and energy improving and finessing our skills instead, we would probably have better outcomes and more success.
 


We have spent most of our lives with a list of things we need to improve on. Each year, each of us has different weaknesses we want to stamp out: be kinder, be firmer, work harder, play harder, and so on. And we believe that by correcting the flaws we see in ourselves, we will become stronger and better people. The reality is, if we spent all that time and energy improving and finessing our skills instead, we would probably have better outcomes and more success. 

 

While wanting to improve in areas of your life is never a bad thing, we need to consider the impact to our productivity goals when we focus only on our weaknesses. Take me, for example. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the same goals land on my list annually—become an exceptional public speaker, be more expressive or competitive (i.e. extroverted) etc. And each and every year, I was failing to actually see results, but felt I needed to master in order to be successful in a particular industry or social circle.

 

For me finding your strength is a mix of what you are good at, what you feel good doing, and what others admire about you. However, we have to be wary of that last point; just because others enjoy some aspect of who you are, it does not mean anything if you don’t find joy and strength in it yourself. I remember a young man who I supervised had amazing skills in marketing and graphic design, but all he wanted to do was finance. Even though he had the skills and strength to do marketing and graphics, what's the use of pursuing something that others admire but that leaves you feeling shackled? You are at your best, always, when you are doing what feels natural and right to you. 


So I encourage you all to think about your top two towering strengths today.


What are your top 2 towering strengths? 

How do you know?

In what ways could you optimize these strengths?

In what ways can you use your strength to make your mark on the world?


With Gratitude,

Jessica Rayne

Let's get serious about community impact

I went to a talk this month, and I was so impressed by the topic they focused on: what the Black community will look like in 2050.  There were speakers from all walks of life and arenas; university presidents, architects, non-profit organizers, investors, and various other professionals. 

 

I received a very impromptu invitation to come out to the event, and had no idea what it would be like or what would be discussed. It was held at a center I was familiar with, however, I had not heard about it before I went out.

 

The speakers commented on their hopes and visions for Black professionals in future years, particularly on the need for spaces to collaborate as a community, for individuals choosing to identify with their Black identities, and so on. I got to speak to some amazing people, but couldn’t help but notice the low attendance. I started to wonder why I didn’t know about this event earlier, and how such an important topic could have earned so little interest. And while some claimed it was due to the timing and traffic, I thought, “No, it’s engagement.”

 

One speaker brought up an interesting explanation as to why the Black community is so divided. They said everyone wants to be the driver of their own canoe. Very few are willing to build a Titanic or hop on board with others to gain momentum and strength. Instead, we are all paddling on through the current in our own chipped and waterlogged canoes, making some progress but not as much as we could be—orshould be.

 

As a result, we have various people doing the same things in the Black community, but not together and so with less impact.

 

When I reflected on this metaphor, I thought of my own mindset over the years that it was a waste of time to work for someone else if I could do it by myself. If we continue to look at things that way, however, we are saying that the greatest fulfillment is ownership rather than progress. We are telling ourselves, our children, and our communities that individual pride is worth more than uplifting the community.

 

This mindset is warped.  Gratification should not be the ability to say “I run this” or “I own this”; true gratification should come from the ability to say “This is the impact we have made”.

 

I think building relationships is a great first step to curing our self-centric perceptions of success. I know that, from personal experience, I have gone further, longer, and stronger with people than I have by myself. The real question is how do we commit to this attitude or perspective, and what does it look like?

 

There are a lot of challenges within the Black community centered around trust, competition, and power dynamics. Just like everything, however, these issues can be overcome.

 

I encourage everyone to set a goal this month to reach out to another business in your community that you share an audience or target with, and to meet up with those other business professionals to chat and find ways to collaborate. The only way we can upgrade from our little canoes is to combine resources, reroute our maps, and take turns paddling so that everyone gets a chance at the head of the ship. The only way to get where we’re going is to work together; and starting the conversation could be the start of a beautiful and beneficial partnership.

Forever Evolving,

Jessica

Unpacking Self-Love

Now as we close the month of February, we close the month of love. We have been bombarded with imagery, events and activities about love, and for the first time in my life I felt like this Valentine’s Day was different. It wasn’t superficially targeted at romantic love, like others. Instead, there were more ads, imagery, and recognition devoted to the importance of self-love. This term “self-love" is something many find comfort with, or are sometimes at odds with. We have been told all our lives to not be selfish, and we are irritated by the self-absorbed, self-centred, and self-obsessed, so self-love seems to convey bits from each. I think the important thing is for us to define for ourselves what self-love looks like on us. I don’t believe it is a one-size-fits-all concept,kind of like success.What I define as success for my life may be different from someone else,  but at the core we all get the same feeling when we achieve our own versions of these things.

I think self-love is about respecting and honouring our feelings and emotions. For instance, continuing to do the things that make you feel burdened, unsettled , and disappointed does not advocate for self-love. Doing the things that make you feel fulfilled, alive, and joyful, however, does stem from self-love. Now please, don’t get it twisted. We will all continue to feel emotions like fear even if working in line with self-love. Fear is natural, fear means we are straying out of our comfort zone. And oftentimes, changing your life so that you can one day be comfortable is outside of your comfort zone.

Right now, for instance, I am battling my own struggles in deciding whether or not to leave the position I have with a company because I don’t enjoy it. I feel stressed and unhappy the night before I have to go in. I feel frustrated and irritated when I get out of the car, open the door, and enter the elevator. I hide out in my office when I am at work. All in all, it’s a painful experience for me to be there, and it is not self-love to stay. If anything, it harms my life=growth and prosperity, and robs me of other opportunities .On the other hand there is the fear that accompanies the thought of leaving. I have bills to pay, and that is my reason for staying so far. So what does self-love look like in a situation like this: quitting and pursuing dreams or quitting and racking up debt that can contribute to other financial and economic hardships?

That is an answer that is different for every individual. Some of us may need to stay where we are unhappy for a little longer—not forever—so that we may have the tools to get on our feet when the time is right. Others of us know that if we stay now we will never leave, and in that case, we must tear ourselves from the comfort of discomfort and seek out what will actually make us happy and fulfill us.

I think we must all understand and learn to put ourselves first.

Because that is not selfishness.

That is simply self-love.

Forever Evolving,

Jessica

Living by your own terms is the greatest achievement!

Happy ending to the first month of the new year!



I hope all of you feel accomplished with the goals you’ve put into the universe so far. If some of you are like me in terms of not exactly following the plan you laid out — I resolved to read one book every month, but it’s Jan 31 and I’m on page 40 of 300+ — don’t worry. Goals are made to be revisited, optimized, and adjusted. Be kind to yourself, and know that each day you can choose to change the plan again!



On another note, this year I’m really exploring the idea of “work independence”, and how this idea is consistently evolving. Flexible and independent working arrangements have become much more popular recently. Whether you are working two part-time jobs or are a full-time independent contractor/ freelancer, you work remotely or you own and operate your own business. This freedom of choice in designing one’s own schedule is growing. More and more people are rejecting the traditional 9-5. Many are exploring or even jumping full-force into entrepreneurship. Globe and Mail said that by 2020 45% of the Canadian workforce will be made up of freelancers, independent contractors, on-demand workers, and remote workers.



Now there is much debate about whether this growth in non-traditional occupations is a result of the changes in the workforce or the changes in the mindsets of the people who make up the workforce. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg — which came first? What I can say, from my observations is that there is definitely a growing trend of people of colour — women in particular — finding ways to build their empires through creating profitable businesses. For people of colour, being your own boss and having agency is extremely important as it is, for many, an act of resistance against the systemic racism that has made it a challenge for people of colour to achieve social mobility and success in comparison to their white counterparts.


It is my pleasure to be part of the movement towards independence, freedom, and choice. I am empowered through helping women like myself and people of colour in general as they work towards carving out the life they want and achieving their goals.



Living by your own terms is the greatest achievement.

Follow us on Instagram @myevolvingdoors
https://www.instagram.com/myevolvingdoors/


with Gratitude,

Jessica Rayne