Something that I've heard many therapists say before is, because a lot of parents don't know how to appropriately and responsibly discipline their children, not only do they end up breaking their spirit before they become adults, but they can infect their natural sense of courage and inborn sense of creativity too. As a survivor of childhood abuse, I will wholeheartedly agree with that. Yet, if there's one thing that I would add to that insight is, poor discipline tactics (coupled with plain ole' lazy parenting skills) can also prevent babies, toddlers, children and adolescents from 1) understanding what different emotions are and 2) how to process them whenever they have them.
That's why, whenever I'm dealing with a client who has young kids, something that I recommend is they invest in a childhood emotion chart (like this one here; if you're an adult who thinks you need one, you can check out one here). Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our heart, a definition of heart is "center of emotions", and I truly do believe that the more in touch with our feelings we are, the more we can understand which emotions we should nurture, which ones are helpful or harmful—and which ones are alerting us to when someone isn't an individual who needs to be in our close, intimate and sacred space.
That's exactly what this article is devoted to. Because our emotions are so precious, if there are six kinds of people who you should consider a threat to your overall emotional health and well-being, these would have to be it. Hands down.
1. Manipulative People
Manipulation is a form of control. It's one of the things that I deal with often when I'm counseling married couples. If you've got an overall sense of what manipulation looks and lives like, but you'd appreciate me providing you with some clear character traits, I've got you. Manipulative people like to guilt trip folks. Manipulative people play the victim whenever they are called out on their ish. Manipulative people rationalize their BS while many times deflecting away from accountability while trying to make you (or someone else) the cause of their poor decisions or offenses. Manipulative people will do things you want them to, ONLY when they desire to get something from you in return. Manipulative people are mad passive aggressive (you can check out an informative video on how passive aggressive folks get down here). Manipulative people "play dumb" in order to gaslight you (in other words, when you confront a manipulative individual, they might act like they don't know what you are talking about in order to shake your sense of clarity or confidence). Manipulative people live for playing mind games. Manipulative people, in a nutshell, are the absolute worst.
Chances are, you know at least one truly manipulative individual. Because they want to put you on a set of puppet strings, it's important to not get heavily invested in them on the emotional tip because that is how they are able to control you so well. And what if you're already married to a manipulative person or you've got family members, co-workers or other people you deal with daily who fit this bill? Boundaries. Firm boundaries are good. Purchasing the bookBoundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (and/orBoundaries in Marriage: Understanding the Choices That Make or Break Loving Relationships) can provide you with some a-ha moments to get you on the right track.
2. Opportunistic People
There is a particular guy who was in my life for many years. We had so much in common and our chemistry was so strong that I actually fell for him pretty hard. It wasn't until I realized that he was a total opportunist—not just with me but many others—that I recognized that a lot of his, how shall I say it, "participation" in our dynamic was more about what he could get out of me than actually wanting to be in my life simply because of who I am as a person.
Coming to this realization was pretty painful because it can be hard to accept that opportunists are basically chameleons; they will adapt themselves to whoever and whatever in order to get what they want. Then, once they've gotten what they need, they're out.
It was around this time last year when I penned the article, "6 Signs A New 'Friend' Is Nothing But An Opportunist". I wrote it so that you could know how to guard your heart when it comes to meeting new people (on the heels of that, also check out "Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'"). Yet make no mistake about it, there's a pretty good chance that someone who you are already quite familiar with is only around to take advantage of what you have to offer as well. One way to test this is to reflect on how much they take vs. how much they actually give. If the former far exceeds the latter, I'm pretty sure you know what that means, right? And what you need to do in response to that newfound revelation…right?
3. Hypocritical People
Boy, if this year ain't been nothin' else—and it already has been A LOT—it's definitely a series of crash courses in race relations; especially when it comes to learning how, for example, many evangelicals see things. Personally, because I went to a "Christian" school that provided disciplinary action for interracial dating, had a Canadian economics teacher who would call his Black students "nègre" (which I believe is the n-word in French) and where two of the most popular students in the school had parents who had picaninny figurines all throughout their house (figurines that the mother actually named after a lot of us)—I know all too well how whites can say they love the Lord, that they "love" Blacks and that aren't racist…even though they are very much so racist people. Because their churches are segregated, along with their lifestyle, race relations and social injustice (check out "Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition---Not a Liberal Agenda") are things that they don't think much about. Until events like what's going on currently in our society happen.
All of this shows up a lot whenever the topic of politics comes up. Just recently, a friend of mine was telling me about a friend of theirs (who is bi-ethnic, by the way) who was going on and on about how Trump is a "man of God" and we should support him because of that. I said to my friend, "Isn't it interesting how Obama was considered to be the antichrist by so many of the same people who think Trump is a Christian?" Trump. The man who, when he was asked what his favorite Bible verse was, he couldn't come up with a single one. Trump. The man who teargassed protestors in order to take a picture in front of a church even though the church leaders didn't want him to. Trump, the man who, even though the Bible says, "Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy" (Psalm 72:4), he is doing any and everything BUT that. (Let's start with "Trump administration still wants to cut food stamps" and "Trump Administration's Harmful Changes to Medicaid". Ugh.)
A hypocrite, by definition, is someone who says one thing and does something else. A part of the reason why so many people of color—Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans—are currently in harm's way in this country is because a lot of folks apply one set of rules for one set of people and something totally different for others. A wise person once said, "I am cautious of people whose words and actions don't match their words." While all of us tend to do hypocritical things from time to time, an all-out hypocrite is a walking contraction, most of the time. They can't be trusted because of this. Guard your heart and mind in dealing with this type of individual. Not some of the time; all of it.
4. Emotionally Cryptic People
This will probably be my shortest and most potent point. What in the world do I mean by "emotionally cryptic"? Those are the people who you never really know where you stand. Why is that? Because they don't know either. They don't express their true feelings. They are hesitant to say anything that you can hold them accountable to and for. At the end of the day, it's like they totally get off on you playing a guessing game about how emotionally invested they are in you. The really sad part about this is, they are mysterious and ambiguous on purpose because they want you to remain in a state of perpetual confusion so that you'll be too puzzled and baffled to call them out and leave them alone. If someone immediately came to your mind, build up some walls, sis. They absolutely DO NOT have your best interest at heart. Pretty much ever.
5. Inconsistent People
I can't remember if I shared it on this platform or not, but a few years ago, when I decided to assess why I kept going through some of the same kind of drama in my friendships with women, I had to accept two things. One, that I had envy issues with some of them (due to how they looked or how guys perceived them to be). Two, a lot of them were emotionally unstable and highly-inconsistent (a few eventually went to therapy to figure out why). Those two things are a HORRIFIC combination if you're trying to maintain any kind of healthy relationship. One day, we'd be all good. The next day, either I'd be low-key jealous or they would be in a mood that I didn't see coming. It would result in emotional roller coaster rides that were not only unfortunate but borderline toxic.
Once I put some real effort into to getting my self-esteem together, it caused me to take ownership for where I was contributing to the drama and then set some healthier boundaries in my relationships. As a result, these days, when folks are hot-and-cold all of the time, I tend to put some space between us.
Inconsistent individuals will have you out here walking on eggshells, constantly censoring yourself and feeling more like you are babysitting someone instead of hanging out with a true peer. Matter of fact, the older that I get, the more attractive consistency is to me, even if someone consistently does something I don't necessarily like. At least I know what I'm dealing with at all times and prepare myself, which is something that I definitely can't say for folks who are totally unpredictable who are always catching—and throwing—others totally off guard.
6. Non-Committing People
In some ways, I saved the best for last. Do you know how much heartache would be spared if many of us emotionally distanced ourselves from people who are commitment-phobes? I'm not just talking about when it comes to romantic relationships either. I've had friends who will make abstract plans, not commit to an actual time or place, and then shoot blanks—over and over again. I've had bosses who would claim that they would take my job performance seriously enough to promote me but wouldn't actually say when I could expect to see any chances—for years on end. Hmph. Don't even get me started on family members who have not kept their word and broken all sorts of promises, a billion times over (hence, "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members").
The reason why the word "commit" is so important, in pretty much any type of relational situation, is because it speaks to building trust between two people. It's about doing what you said you would and the other individual being able to fully rely on you because of it. People who honor their commitments are not only mature individuals, they are people who show that they respect whomever they are making a commitment to, no matter how big or small the commitment may actually be. If you've got people in your life who you can't realize depend on or believe, while you might not be able to banish them from your world, definitely keep your emotional defenses up to some extent. Non-committers are chronic disappointers who can really hurt your feelings. The good news is they only can if you let them, though. For the sake of your emotional safety, please make sure that you do.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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