How we think about mental health impacts our well-being. In these pages I offer my perspective - an African-centered, black-centered view of us and of what makes us well. an alternative path to healing both the personal and the collective.

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The Power in Your Identity

October 30, 20183 min read

“If you're always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be." - Maya Angelou

There is an idea in society that we all have to be the same and fit into the dominant societal mold. This idea causes us to reject parts of ourselves that we fear or have been told are “different” or “unusual” and therefore unacceptable. We are not supposed to all be the same. Diversity is at the foundation of life and fitting in is highly overrated. In the last post, I spoke about the importance of discovering and embracing all of who you are. In this one, I want to take that idea a little bit deeper.


You are who you are, with all your characteristics and your experience, for a reason. That reason is neither for you to deny those aspects of yourself that are inconvenient, nor for you to simply be defined (read confined) by them. The purpose of your experience and your attributes is for you to USE them. Therein lies your power.


You were born in your skin, with your gender (whether or not it matches your assigned gender at birth), your sex and sexuality, in your body (whatever particulars it came with) in your culture, country, family, community, in this time, with your interests, preferences and inclinations, with your particular talents and gifts; because these things are needed in the world. You are unique and within that uniqueness is contained a gift for the world. When you allow someone or something outside of yourself to define you, you are inadvertently denying the world that gift.


Your experience and personal characteristics have shaped you in a particular way for a particular purpose. Your life purpose. Your life purpose does not have to be big, it can be small, but it is important nonetheless because you are important. Your existence is important. Whatever environment you were born into or transplanted into, you have a role to play there. You don’t have to explicitly know what your life purpose is either in order to live it. As long as you are using your experience and truly being you, you are living your life purpose. Sometimes we can get lost looking for that purpose, but it is right here at home, within us.


So, as you can see, our life purpose is intricately linked to who we are. That makes it imperative for us to embrace our multiple identities but, instead, due to social conditioning, most of us spend most of our lives hiding, denying, or loathing different aspects of ourselves. We want to be “normal”, to fit in, but we end up forfeiting our uniqueness and relinquishing our power.


When we reject who we are, or parts of who we are, we are moving away from our reason to be and life becomes meaningless. Many people spend their whole lives looking for their life purpose while running away from themselves. We cannot reject who we are and find our purpose because the answer to our purpose is in exactly who we are. When we embrace all of who we are, we are in our power.

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Yema Ferreira

Yema is an integrative psychotherapist on a mission to help heal the collective trauma of people of African descent. Therapy and writing are her tools.

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