Listen, I don’t know if this is a vent, a creative intro, or what, but when I tell you that before I got my holistic life coaching certification, there were some other students up in there who were trying me…BIG TIME? Chile…CHILE.
It has always been my personal belief that there is an epidemic of individuals (including quite a few folks who check off the traits of narcissism in some pretty stellar ways) who work in mental health, who actually need to receive therapy before they actually start giving it. Shoot, I won’t name no names (there are too many of ‘em at this point, to be honest), yet a lot of them are yapping away on TikTok as we speak. Indeed, some people would rather take the ego boost from helping other people than do the — and please trust me when I say this — sometimes excruciating self-work that is required to fix their own issues.
Case in point. There is a particular student who wanted me to coach them. I even offered to do it for free. Not only did they blow off two sessions; one time, they only acknowledged it because they ran into me in class; the other time, they said absolutely nothing. Not only does this translate into them being someone who doesn’t value other people’s time, not only does it come off that their word is on the flaky side — as they’re in the process of wanting to coach other folks on how to get their own ish together, what it really says is they’re not very good at holding their own selves accountable.
I guess the silver lining in them being inconsiderate of my schedule/time and then not acknowledging it (chile) is they served as a teachable moment and the inspiration for this particular piece — ‘cause y’all, when I say that one of the most underrated causes of stagnation, evolution, and relational longevity are people who suck at holding their own selves accountable for their own words and actions? Because, at the end of the day, self-accountability is all about taking full responsibility for what you say and do without trying to put the blame on other people.
Yeah, let me get off of the vent and dive right on in…
Accountability Is a Sign of Self-AwarenessGiphy
“To know yourself, you must sacrifice the illusion that you already do.” (Vironika Tugaleva)
Since accountability is one of those words that so many people regularly use, all the while assuming that everyone knows what it means, I figured the best way to approach this topic is to break down some of the traits of a truly accountable individual — and since there is no way to be accountable without being self-aware, let’s start there.
To be honest with you, self-awareness manifests itself in a myriad of ways:
- Self-aware people know their strengths and weaknesses
- Self-aware people are cognizant of how their energy and presence affect those around them
- Self-aware people are able to express their emotions in a clear, concise, and mature way
- Self-aware people are able to hear other folks out when it comes to their views and perspectives
- Self-aware people have good boundariesand respect the boundaries of others
- Self-aware people own their mistakes without making excuses, justifying, or deflecting
- Self-aware people make apologies and accept them (because they know they need the same mercy that they bestow)
- Self-aware people are mindful and remain in the present (because that’s all they can “control”)
- Self-aware people know how to fight fair
- Self-aware people respond rather than react (they process things and determine the most beneficial way to address matters before they speak)
Look here — I’m willing to bet some pretty good money that the number of folks who would immediately become more accountable would easily be in the thousands if they simply focused on what it means to be self-aware…first. That said, how self-aware are you? Be honest.
Accountability Is a Sign of MaturityGiphy
"Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values." (Joshua L. Liebman)
If you’ve been rocking with me, content-wise, for a while now, then you already know that one of my absolute favorite quotes is “Adulthood is surviving childhood.” And since there are plenty of studies to support that the age where a child is traumatized is oftentimes the emotional stage that they remain until they get some professional help, it actually makes a lot of sense why some adults act like big kids. That’s why, if there’s one thing that I enjoy about the truly great Black family channelBeleaf in Fatherhood, it’s that the parents show what it means to handle accountability in a mature way in spite of their kids sometimes handling matters immaturely — because they are well…kids.
That’s why it tickles me when the whole “What do you bring to the table?” conversation comes up, and folks will respond with, “I’ve got a place, a car, and I pay my own bills.” Umm, you mean you’re an adult? Not sure how many brownie points you should actually get for that once you reach adult age. And honestly, maturity should come with adulting as well. In fact, as you get older, maturity should be evolving in your life — that includes when it comes to personal accountability.
So, what does it mean to be a mature person? For starters, mature people can control their emotions; are not impulsive; do not need immediate gratification; are not self-centered; do not blame others for their own stuff; do not resort to pettiness, and do not make irresponsible decisions. When you process all of this, it’s easy to see why children need to be taught how to hold themselves accountable — it’s because they tend to not be very good at any of this. We, as grown-ass people, though? We absolutely should be.
Accountability Is a Sign of HumilityGiphy
"True humility is being able to accept criticisms as graciously as we accept compliments." (Sabrina Newby)
This culture is hella backward. Although humility is actually a virtuous trait to have, society spends a lot of time trying to present it as some sort of weakness. And here’s the (main) problem with that: when you’re arrogant; overbearing; unteachable (can’t be told or corrected about anything); presumptuous; aggressive; smug, and self-centered — does that seem like someone who would do a good job at holding themselves accountable?
An extreme example of this would probably be the orange man, Donald Trump. His narcissism is so off-the-charts that, no matter how much evidence of his ridiculousness he’s presented with, he finds some way to skirt around it and not own it. That’s what egomania does: it makes you think that you’re too good to make mistakes and/or take on the consequences whenever you do — and that’s a very dangerous way to live your life.
Synonyms for humility include words like meek, unpretentious, and unassuming. When I think of those words, things like being flexible and correctable come to mind. And the beautiful thing about all of this, as it directly relates to personal accountability is, there’s no way that you can hold yourself responsible unless these qualities are not alive, well, and very active in you. Are they?
Accountability Is a Sign of Personal ResponsibilityGiphy
“The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.” (Anne Frank)
There is someone in my family who, without even really asking me, had me pack up their things in storage and pay the bill for years. I mean, several years. Every time they would come to visit (they moved far away), I would say, “When are you going to send for your things?” and they would basically give me the Elmo shrug. That is, until the storage unit got robbed, I was out of literally thousands of dollars, and they had the nerve to get mad at me about it. Umm, if you had come to get your stuff, this wouldn’t have happened. Take some personal responsibility. Geeze.
Back when they could emotionally bully me, they could get away with that type of craziness. Not now, though. They aren’t good at personal responsibility, never really have been, and so some firm boundaries have been put into place — because individuals who don’t hold themselves responsible are gonna be a liability in your life, one way or another.
Just for the record, here are some signs of how responsible people get down: they respect other people’s time and resources; they organize their life in a way where it won’t “fall into” unnecessary drama and chaos; they plan ahead; they tell the truth; they keep their commitments and follow through on their obligations; they don’t just own mistakes, they seek to correct them; they’re not driven by emotion(s), and they stick to their values and standards, no matter what.
Yeah, a responsible person is a trustworthy individual. And that brings me to the next point.
Accountability Is a Sign of Being TrustworthyGiphy
“Being consistent in your behavior is a great way to build trust.” (Germany Kent)
The older (and prayerfully wiser) I become, the more consistency matters to me. Honestly, on a few levels, that’s always been the case because I grew up in a home that, in many ways, was pretty consistent about being inconsistent — and you can’t really trust people who move like that because you never really know what to expect at any given moment and time (which sucks for a child’s overall health and well-being if you happen to be a parent, by the way).
And here’s the thing about consistency — it’s not about being perfect or getting everything right all of the time. Consistency is about not being erratic in your behavior, meaning what you say, and living in a way that isn’t constantly in conflict. For instance, my friends know that I’m consistent about “Don’t ask me a question if you don’t want a pretty direct answer,” “Don’t expect me to be super available on the biblical Sabbath” and “I couldn’t care less about holidays yet my birthday? Yeah…show up.” This stuff never — and I mean, NEVER — changes, so they trust me to be this way when it comes to those specific topics.
On a grander scale, how does trustworthiness show up?
- Trustworthy people are safe (including emotionally safe) to be around
- Trustworthy people do not violate articulated boundaries
- Trustworthy people don’t say one thing and do something else
- Trustworthy people are honest with themselves and others
- Trustworthy people are genuine; they don’t put on facades
- Trustworthy people hold information in great confidence
- Trustworthy people are considerate of other people’s feelings and needs
Trustworthy people are the ones you can call with a secret, in an emergency, or if you are in need because they have already displayed the kind of character that reveals how reliable they are — and there is no way that you can be a reliable person if you’re not someone who holds yourself accountable.
Accountability Is a Sign of Being Solutions-OrientedGiphy
“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” (Duke Ellington)
One more. Personally, something that drives me up the wall about people who don’t take accountability for the things that they say and/or do is they’re exhausting to be around. One of the reasons why is that when you don’t take accountability for mistakes, offenses, or inadvertent missteps, that can cause a domino effect of other issues or problems — and that’s a complete waste of time and energy.
This includes individuals who don’t apologize. When you know that you messed up, why not just own your ish so that the healing process can begin and everyone can move smoothly within the relationship? That’s how someone who doesn’t like a lot of stress and drama would operate. Yeah, and if your immediate response to that is, “I don’t really care how they feel about it” — well, it’s kind of another article for another time, yet not only is your pride a sign of emotional immaturity, but if you feel that apathetic towards other individuals, you’re not the safest individual to be around either (#sorrynotsorry).
Definitely, one of the best things about personal accountability is you like a drama-free existence which means that you’re as solutions-oriented as possible. And if that means choosing peace over being right all of the time (especially when you know that you’re not), focusing more on the future than the past, strengthening your areas of weakness so that you can break certain patterns and habits…so be it.
You’ll take the “hit” because the sooner you’re accountable, the sooner a solution is found, and life is all good. And that’s just what makes holding yourself accountable so great — it keeps you in a more consistent state of harmony and clarity. And that’s beyond bomb. Trust me.
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- 7 Questions You Should Definitely Ask Yourself At The End Of Each Week ›
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 email@example.com. 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 masterdating? 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 masterdating 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 Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. 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 masterdating 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 masterdating 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 masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
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 masterdating 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” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating 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 masterdating 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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