A Word on Gossip

I am excited to announce that we have another Guest Inspiration, Susan (Susie) Wood, who is with us today to share with us her thoughts on gossip & what impact it can have in the various facets of our lives. I personally have watched Susie evolve in her pursuit of self-reflection & it has been such a beautiful journey. She has mastered the art of reflection & has done an amazing job at sharing what she’s learned about herself & the actions of others in a way that helps us understand our own individual circumstances. Therefore, today, I am honored to have her here on Nickkie&Co. to share with us her thought out analysis on Gossip.

Have you ever been the target of unkind gossip at work or other communities? Have you ever been the source of it? Chances are you’ve experienced both sides to some degree. I usually don’t care what people say about me and prefer not to waste my energy on self-defense. Usually it’s best to let people draw conclusions from their own observations because my behavior speaks for itself and my conscience is clean. What others say usually only reflects poorly on the gossiper in those cases. However, I did recently become targeted by someone at work that I considered a friend, and it felt particularly vicious and public. It led me to explore a lot of questions beyond just our personal relationship, but about the broader topic of gossip in general and why people do it. Entire industries are built on this guilty pleasure. We all know how painful and damaging it can be, so why do we persist? Why do we even lend a sympathetic ear?


There are different kinds of gossip and it isn’t all bad. I’ve learned a lot of valuable work-related information over the years through a game of whisper-down-the-lane as a result of poor, spotty communication on the part of management. But it’s also valid and useful in preparation for interviews, for salary negotiations, or for keeping your guard up around a known sexual predator. Women may tear each other down with gossip, but we also protect each other from the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. We just need to consider carefully the information and its source, and discern which kind we are hearing.

This recent work experience was of the malicious, personal variety, and it was painful. It led me to read about some of the neuroscience research by Naomi I. Eisenberger on Social Pain (e.g., resultant of public criticism, rejection, exclusion, being shamed, etc.) She found that social pain will trigger a response in some of the same neural pathways in the brain as physical pain. This has been proven on fMRI scans in many different studies over the last decade of research. Certain drugs that are prescribed for physical pain, like opioids, have comparable outcomes on relief of social pain. Similarly, antidepressants which are prescribed for anxiety and depression, have also been shown to reduce physical pain. There is an undeniable overlap. Social rejection is arguably worse than physical pain because it can be experienced repeatedly each time an event is recalled in your mind. You can relive the pain ongoingly if you don’t have a healthy outlet for your stress and learn to move on. Ann Betz, CPCC and international executive coach, also wrote an article on the neurological effects of too much stress. It leads to functional impairment of the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for high-level thinking. She wrote that acute, chronic stress leads to foggy thinking, poor impulse control, poor memory and decision-making, and lack of empathy. It’s not difficult to understand why, then, the biggest gossipers tend to be the most high-anxiety individuals.

When faced with any problem, it’s good practice to have enough self-awareness to be willing to ask yourself how you may have contributed to the situation you find yourself in. Even if it’s only 5% your own doing and 95% theirs, you can learn and grow a lot from that 5% that you owned and make better choices next time – especially if any part of that mean gossip was true. I concluded that this work friend was in pain and that I compounded it by saying something hurtful during an argument. This was her way of hurting me back, creating alliances, and protecting herself from potential professional consequences.

The next time you are tempted to share something mean, personal or private about someone, ask yourself why: What need am I trying to fulfill by sharing this information with this person? What might be the consequences? Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone? There almost always is.
Susie

What am I trying to fulfill with sharing this information with this person…Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone?

Inspire

To INSPIRE is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something.

Every morning I wake up with the deliberate intent to inspire someone. I understand that every encounter I may have with someone (stranger, friend or foe) is an opportunity for me to do so. I recognize that many of us are walking around aimlessly, uninspired & without purpose. So the greatest blessing I feel I can offer anyone is to inspire them. Because in inspiring them, they come into realization of their abilities & the potential to pursue all the dreams they never imagined they could make a reality.

As women going places, it is imperative that we keep this same mindset, at all times. Unfortunately, with all that is going on, people feel incapable to make their gifts & talents work for them. They need to be inspired, to have something to strive for, something to give them purpose. Life is too beautiful to just be in it living aimlessly. We need to make it work for us. We need to inspire & be inspired. Once we realize the way this can impact the lives of others we MUST share it with the world.

So wake up. Take on the task to inspire the world.

No Pain, No Gain.

Unfortunately, in order to become who we are meant to be, pain is apart of the process. That being the case, I have had my share of pain that has been inflicted by rejection, abandonment & disappointment. As time progressed, I learned how to not allow what hurt me to cripple me from advancement & that beauty is morphed from my pain.

I was born a fatherless child to a young single mother who harbored her own pain. Although I did not know it then, I carried that pain for a long time & used his abandonment as an excuse to distrust & dislike people. I chose not to live my life or engage with new people out of fear of becoming a familiar friend to abandonment & rejection, yet again. I had a personable personality, but put the people who loved me through hell to ensure their intent was genuine. As time progressed & I loosened the reigns, I began to trust the wrong people. People who were less than worthy of my time. People who reminded me of what it felt like to be that little girl who was rejected by her father. People who took advantage of my vulnerability & my new attempt to forgive & disguised it as love. People who made it difficult to trust when amazing people who are worthy step in.

As I pursue new adventures with new people, I hold certain lesson extremely close to my heart. For instance, putting people under strict confines, not only made me a sh*tty person, it is asking for people to screw up. There is a clear difference between bad people & people who make a mistake & just because someone makes a mistake, does not make them a bad person. Being anti-social does not hurt the people that hurt me, but instead limits me from reaching my potential & engaging with people that can offer enjoyable experiences & lasting relationships. Some people are not supposed to be around forever. Sometimes their season is to serve a purpose & to go on their way. However, I learned to appreciate the people who stuck around even when I was not worth sticking around for. Although I still work through my trauma, I am healed enough to know that it is important to take ownership of my pain, regain my power & live my life.

The aftermath of my pain has given me the ability to empathize with those that are hurting & has allowed me to speak life into those who need it. I encourage you to do the same. People need your testimony. Your pain alone gives you a story to tell. A story of a journey consistent with perseverance & healing. Pain, although the effects can be long lasting, was never meant to be around forever. It’s purpose is to make a bad situation a positive transformation. What we gain from the experience, we are to help pour into others. We should never get it mixed up – pain is temporary. YOU are FOREVER.

Mind Your Business

Ladies, the older I get the more I can identify with the mindset that minding my own business allows me all the opportunities to literally, mind my own business. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to engulf ourselves in the lives of others. So much so, that we can barely embrace the effects of what is going on in our own lives. We allow other people’s circumstances to spark a flame in our lives instead of fueling a fire that allow us to become & remain inspired in a way that benefits us. We become inspired by other people’s misery & wonder why our lives are not where we want them to be, why our goals have not be obtained & why we are always in some form of mess/drama. Well, say hello to the side effects of not minding your own business.

In order to tackle obstacles & make our dreams a reality, we have to literally take the time we spend checking on the lives of others & apply it to our own. Because the truth is, none of us are in a place where we should be comfortable knowing & searching for all the scoop on someone’s else’s life knowing we can always be in a better place than where we are now. There is nothing on this earth worth inhibiting us from striving to be our best selves. How interesting it is, is irrelevant. It serves as a distraction. A distraction from finding our ideal job, going back to school, tending to our families or opening our own businesses. So it is imperative that we strive to actively mind our own business. If it is not self-productive, it is not business to be tended to.

So before we entertain the action in someone else’s life, we need to think about the time we are sacrificing & how we can apply it to something else; something more productive. We are big girls & life, as I always say, is too short. Too short to strive for anything other than someone better than we are today. Remember that.

Combating Negative Thinking

As my past would tell you, I often have a hard time remaining positive in difficult situations. I learned through my experiences that it is a heck of alot easier to keep & maintain a negative perspective over a positive one. As of the past 2 years I have made a deliberate & conscious effort to affirm positivity even when I feel the exact opposite way. Because the truth is, “don’t nobody have time” to be sitting around wallowing in a battle we can win if we just change our perspective. Therefore, today, I want to encourage you to do the same thing. I understand that initially this perspective is easier said than done, however, it gets easier & infectious with time.

We have to understand (despite how cliche this may or may not sound) that there is not one obstacle placed in front of us that we cannot overcome. Life throws some pretty unwanted situations at us; however, keeping our eyes on the rainbow that appears at the end of the storm will help significantly. Understand that remaining positive does not negate what we are feeling but it helps with feeling better sooner. As we get better at this, far more than our perspective will change. This is a reward worth receiving once we master this amazing way of thinking. 

I encourage you to combate offensive thoughts swiftly & indefinitely. As an unwanted thought slips into your brain, open your mouth & affirm the exactly opposite. Do not give it life by speaking it out loud. It is not worthy to be given such power, & most importantly, it is beneath you. You are more powerful & not equipped to succumb to the unwanted side effects that come along with negative thought processing. Life is not meant to bring you down. Instead, it is supposed to be the best teacher & contribute to a lifetime of experiences. Anything other than that, we are giving it too much credit. Credit it does not deserve & what it has not worked for. You truly are the master of your destiny– how will you let your thinking influence it?

I.N.T.U.I.T.I.O.N

I am a firm believer that we have been put on this earth with the appropriate resources that ensures our survival. I believe that everything that we need to survive our experiences has been placed within us or on this earth to ensure we live our lives to its maximum potential. In being properly equipped, we have been gifted with the “ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” This gift is our intuition, often referred to as the “women’s intuitions”, our “gut instinct” or our “gift of discernment.” I can not tell you how many times I have been severely disappointed when I have ignored that uneasy feeling in circumstances that I should not have. Therefore, today, I advocate that we take the time to listen to our gut – always; because I am a true example of what happens if we choose to ignore or embrace our ability to tap into it.

The worst & best thing I have ever done was to listen &/or ignore what my intuition was telling me. After many heartbreaks & bad decisions, finally, after 30 years of life; I learned to embrace all of its glorious wonders. It has taught me to be a better decision maker for myself & for my loved ones, to use my discernment when meeting new people or receiving new information & it has increased my creativity, significantly. As I continue to embrace this ability, it comes more naturally & the confidence I have built in my willingness to make difficult decisions has increased. In believing in myself & paying attention to my instincts I have been able to make sound decisions that I have not regretted after making them. I have learned to become more patient with decisions & understand the importance of sitting back, processing the circumstances & returning with a well thought out solution that will work in my favor.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to do the same. Listen to your gut & embrace what it is telling you. If you feel uneasy, if something does not seem right, sit on it, pray about it & act accordingly. We spend so much of our time negating what we already know & forcing what we want to happen by ignoring this small but enormous gift that was afforded to us. Trusting ourselves enough to allow what is natural to us to protect us, is the best thing that we can do for ourselves. The only person that has anything to lose in not trusting ourselves, is ourselves. So, check in with yourself. Stop ignoring yourself under the pretense that you’re “doing too much” or you’re “being extra”; you owe no one else the benefit of the doubt but yourself. You will take better care of you than anyone else can, so believe in YOU when YOU nudges YOU.

Empower Women

Although women are coming forward encouraging & advocating for themselves in ways that have not always been so prevelant before, it has always been important. For a long time, women have been an oppressed population. From employment opportunities, to policy changes put in place to hinder & dictate our actions – the oppressive intent is evident. As a result, we must be up in arms, always. At this point, if you hurt one, limit & restrict one; you have hurt, limit & restrict us all. Because women empowerment is more than empowering & encouraging women. It is about empathy, relation, understanding, encouragement & awareness, etc. Women empowerment is love. However, many times, the things that are occurring to us & around us encompass everything but the ability to empower women.

To get to the point that policy change happens based on the true necessities & demands of women, we can start small so that we can move bigger. We want better treatment but fail to exhibit better treatment amongst ourselves. Therefore, we can empower & encourage all women, whether we know them or not, consistently, with the intent to spread healing amongst other women. We walk by many women on a regular basis; however, we are more inclined to judge her before telling her she is bomb. We are less likely to empathize with a woman who is having a rough day without knowing her story first & we look at women individually instead of as a contribution to what they are to us as a group.

Each woman represents something for us individually & as a whole- the ability to grow, overcome adversity, create & maintain life (whether from their flesh or not), & the ability to survive & thrive. We need to begin to treat each other as valued treasure before we can expect anyone else to see us the same way. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other women to determine the traits we have that makes us a better woman. We need to look for opportunities to heal each other so we can sustain each other. Women fight many battles but it should never be a battle that we are fighting amongst ourselves. Regardless of the story of the person who receives these messages, it is important that we remind them in various & creative ways that we all are loved, capable & not alone.

Managing Stress

Last week I was having weekly supervision with my supervisor. As we were talking about accomplished tasks, follow ups & deadlines; he stopped suddenly & with a straight face, asked me how I was managing my stress. I looked at him & then to the ceiling trying to search for the answer in my head. The realization then dawned on us both, right in that instant- I didn’t. I was not actively managing my stress. The things that I once did to keep me in my Zen have eventually fallen to the wayside due to the high demands of my job. Oddly enough, after coming short with an answer, I became embarrassed. Not because I didn’t have the answer to the question that he was asking me, but because I realized I have been neglecting myself so much while I advocate for all of you to do the exact opposite. His question convicted me & made me realize that in my busy life, I have neglected the sure thing that keeps me moving EVERY DAY – Me.

Listen, I have learned that stress is inevitable. It will always be there; some times more than others. However, it is important that we recognize when our bodies tells us that we are stressed & that we establish sure ways to ensure that we manage it – at all times. It never truly goes away. Even when mentally, stress doesn’t appear evident; our bodies experience different degrees of stress on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important that we proactively address stress in our day-to-day routine & have the answer of how we manage it if asked by someone who cares about us.

Life is too short, we are too valuable & stress is too dangerous to sweep it to the side. As we manage our stress, other facets of our lives will come together. Stress is not something that we are supposed to be content living with. Our mental & physical health is way too significant to fail ourselves in this way. Manage now … be sound & happy later.

Lion-heart

Being brave is the ability to endure unpleasant conditions or behavior without succumbing to fear. Unfortunately, with all that is going on around us, it is extremely important that we recognize the times in which we need to stand up & go against the grain; even if it is not always the most popular opinion.  It is no secret that there are many injustices that happen on a regular basis. Thankfully, technology & social media has helped significantly with the exposure of unjust, inequitable & preferential treatment; so much so, that the things that use to be swept under the rug are now the red kool-aid stain on your white rug & extremely hard to ignore. 

When we see these actions, we instantly ban up together, express our distaste for  a few weeks & allow our hashtags to take the social media world by storm. However, human nature does better at talking about the issues when there is a group of people around us with the same mindset. But in the event we are alone & witness the foul treatment of someone else, can we all truly say that we will remain fueled the same way? It is easy say ‘yes’ now, but as life would have it,  under the right circumstances & situations our ‘yes’ can easily turn into a ‘no’. Shock & fear can bring out characteristics in us that are far from what we portray ourselves to be. That is ok, it is actually quite normal. Besides, you are not required to be anything more than human. However, the trick is to do what’s right in non-adverse & adverse situations; regardless of the fear that tells us to remain dormant & to do nothing.

We have to attempt to be brave- always. All situations are not always extreme but they do matter. We should never be dissuaded from standing up, with & next to what we believe in. Our ability to define ourselves & our integrity is rooted in that. Therefore, be brave when pursuing all your goals, be brave for your loved ones & strangers when they can not be. Be brave enough to speak out against injustices, be brave enough to love even when you are hurt. Be brave in the face of adversity. Be brave enough to implement change for the generations after you & be brave enough to make those before you proud. Be brave & break generational curses. Be brave enough to fight the fight others are too tired to fight. Shed light on what is hidden in the dark & be brave enough to admit vulnerability. Be brave enough to pray & to cry. Be brave to laugh when it is hard. Be brave to combat mental illness & brave enough to seek help when you need it. Be creative in your bravery & tie your bravery to your integrity.

With audaciousness there is nothing you cannot do. There is no giant you cannot slay. 


I can never forget-
Happy Mother’s Day

Your Money, Your Power

As an adult, I reflect often on the topics we discussed in school. I realize that schools, in some way, do not really equip us for real life. You know, with the stuff that really matters, like- how to invest, the importance of having good credit, the benefits of saving early & budgeting accordingly. It is almost like we weren’t geared to fully live our best lives without debt & excess. We were told to desire to be rich but were not provided the proper resources to teach us how to be. It was ingrained in us that the sure way to live comfortably is to finish school, get a job with a high salary, & to save our money in a standard savings account. We were not told the other options to help us “get rich” or to be financially independent. In fact, the advice given to us initially, in my opinion, was pretty bad advice. College is a large reason why many of us are in debt, high paying jobs are not easily accessible & a standard savings account gives you zilch for interest as your money sits there & does nothing but be the same amount you deposited. That advice made us ill-equipped to thrive comfortably without understanding the struggle first.

Now, we have to force ourselves to figure it out on our own. We have to force ourselves to research the options & not fall into the trap of incurring tons of debt that is impossible to pay off. The days of living above our means & incurring debt we cannot pay is long behind us. Living paycheck to paycheck was not God’s intent when he placed us on this Earth to thrive. Therefore, we must prepare to change our mindset & keep those days behind us. The days of living above our means in order to keep is now over. We must begin to welcome a life that prohibits struggling in retirement & working ourselves to death without being able to experience our loved ones. They deserve to have us there while having access to our legacy after we are gone. We must learn to work this financial system to our advantage so we never have to remember what it is to struggle again. Because the truth is, we all want nice things, but the picture is bigger than that.

We need to obtain & utilize resources that allow us to familiarize ourselves with what is available to us. Learn the importance of investing, monitoring, book keeping, accounting & financial advising. Although they seem out of reach, they are services we can utilize now for our benefit. We cannot continue to have a billionaire mindset with an impoverished lifestyle because at some point the well of desire will run dry & we will begin to make irrational & unhealthy financial choices that we cannot afford to. Please understand that the financial choices you make now do not only effect you, they effect the generations after you. Living a life plagued with debt is a generational curse that we do not need to succumb to. We can break the chain of discomfort & teach our children the same thing. No one wants to end their life paying back debt that could have been avoided. Furthermore, no one wants to leave the burden of suffering on their families so we need to think smart- NOW.

Start doing the research. Start paying off your debt now so you do not have to worry about it later. Start budgeting. Monitor your trends in spending & sacrifice what you need to cut back on. Start investing your money & teaching your children the value of a dollar, teach them the pros & cons to credit scores & explain how interest rates work & do not work in their favor. Teach them to live with as little debt as possible so that after you are gone you can be sure that if you taught them anything, you taught them money. Our lives & their lives are too valuable to miss this knowledge like we did. Share it abundantly. The generation needs it.



Tips: Dave Ramsey’s literature on the Debt Snowball is very helpful. That information you receive coupled with his EveryDollar app can get you well on your way to living debt free & building up your savings.
Also, the most recent episode of the Jesus & Jollof podcast, “Scared Money, Don’t Make Money” is very informative without feeling overwhelming. It defines much of the terminology that was mentioned above & will stimulate you to think of your money differently.

After all, your money is your power.