The GIF that's the feature image for today? Aside from it being signature Moniece Slaughter and also pure comedy, I have another reason for going with it. It's tied into a fun fact for the day. Back in the day, my mother used to manage a group called Take 6. At the time, one of the members of the group had a stepdaughter that he was raising as his own. When I knew her, she was an itty bitty thing that used to sit in a car seat of her mom's ride. That little girl is all grown up now. Her name is Moniece Slaughter.
Because of the far-less-than-six-degrees-of-separation between us, the speed of time that has transpired and the pure quirkiness of Moniece, while I don't watch any of the Love & Hop Hip shows, you'd have to live under a rock to miss her name in the headlines, seemingly on a weekly basis. Yet no matter what you may think of her, I think you would find it… "helpful" is the word that I am going to go with, to check out the interview that she did with Hollywood Unlocked not too long ago (you can check out Part One here and Part Two here). Sometimes, all we see is someone's reaction to her triggers. But there are real gems in Moniece's interview about where her triggers originated from in the first place.
After watching her share her story, it got me to thinking about triggers, in general. How so much drama and mayhem could be avoided if we took the time to figure out what our own triggers are, where they derived from, and what we can do to take power over them. Because you know what? Just because someone triggers us, that doesn't mean we have to react to them. Self-awareness and inner peace (and perhaps watching the originalThe Karate Kid every once in a while) are great teachers of this very fact.
What Is a Trigger? How Do We Get Triggered?
Before getting into how to handle folks who trigger you, let's first look at what a trigger actually is and how one is able to affect us in the intense way that it can. From the reading and research that I've done on the topic, a trigger—when it comes to this article, what I'm basically referring to is an emotional trigger—is something that touches on an unresolved issue or an unhealed wound; one that oftentimes stems from our childhood. Maybe you grew up in a physically abusive environment. Maybe someone teased you about your skin tone, your body type, or your weight. Perhaps your family didn't have a lot of money. Maybe you witnessed something traumatizing. Maybe you were sexually abused. Perhaps you were abandoned by a parent. Because we come into this earth as such innocent and also resilient souls, no matter what we go through as children, a lot of us have an uncanny ability to forgive those who have harmed us. Because children are such miraculous vessels of unconditional love, as kids, we tend to be more interested in if our "victimizer" or "offender" is OK rather than if we are.
Here's the thing, though. As we get older and we grasp the magnitude of what happened to us, that can cause more complex emotions to settle in. I'll give you an example of what I mean. My parents have been divorced since I was three, but I would fly to see my father every summer. One time, while I was with him, my mother's mom died and so I had to stay longer. Here's what's crazy about that. There was a flight that I was supposed to be on that actually went down. I missed it because my mom had me stay longer. As a child, it didn't affect me all that much. Oh, but now that I've grown up and grasped how truly devastating a plane crash is, although I travel when I need to, folks who know me know that I am not the best traveler in the world. Due to my childhood, flying? It is a straight-up trigger.
Here's another one. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. There are layers to how that has infected and affected me over the years, but what I will say today is, when someone who is supposed to protect you is the one who uncovers you, it sends your self-esteem through all kinds of shifts and changes. Anyway, my molester (a male relative) used to call me "GC" (it stood for "great curves"—ugh) and would sing "Brick House" to me on a regular basis. During many of those same years, I was teased—by relatives and non-relatives alike—for having an overbite and full lips. As an adult, when guys would call me "sexy", sometimes my immediate response would be, "What?! So, I'm not pretty? You don't think I'm beautiful? All I am is 'sexy' to you?" Triggered. As far as the teeth and lips go, I remember one of my male friends—someone who I know loves me and affirms me, both in and out of his presence—once asked, "Did you ever think about getting braces when you were growing up?" He was asking because I was telling him that one of my front teeth irks me sometimes. But when he said that, I was pissed. I snapped at him and sat in silence for a while. His question triggered me. In my 20s, when someone merely commented on my lips, I received it as ridicule. Again, a trigger.
One more example. I have a friend who, while he is more like the middle child of his family, he's been treated like a patriarch for all of his life; even when he was a kid. His mother relied on him as if he were her husband; she still does. So, to this day, if you text him something more than once, he gets really agitated. When I finally asked him why, he said that it was because that's what his mother does; that it makes him feel nagged and pressured. It's a trigger.
If you look at a common thread in all of this, it's that once we know that something really gets to us, it's important to make the time to look into why. What exactly is our response or reaction tied to? What is it that's causing us to get angry, pop-off, become fearful, lash out, cry or even experience physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shaking, sweating, hot flashes or dizziness? Why are we "getting out of ourselves" in direct response to something someone just said or did—even if, in the grand scheme of things, really isn't that big of a deal? Or, at the very least, doesn't warrant all of the intensity that we're experiencing?
How to “Deactivate” Your Triggers
I think I should put on record that it's one thing to be triggered; it's another to be flat-out attacked. How to handle the latter is another article for another time. But if what I'm talking about today is resonating with you, I'd be shocked if you didn't connect that healing the source of your trigger is a very powerful and necessary step.
What I mean by that is think about what really is causing you to feel the way that you do. Do you need to forgive someone from your past? Do you need to have a hard conversation, not with your current trigger-er, but with the person who reminds you of them? Maybe some therapy is necessary so that someone can help you to unpack all of your thoughts. I am a firm believer that there is no point in continuing to try and prune a tree that actually needs to be pulled up from the roots. In other words, if you're constantly getting triggered, trying to deal with the trigger at the moment isn't going to "fix the problem" nearly as much as getting down to the foundation of where the trigger came from in the first place.
I can speak from personal experience when I say that, the more the "inner child" is loved on, the more that the root is dealt with, the less triggered you will be.
Case in point. I grew up in a church that, not only didn't support me in my sexual abuse but actually said I was lying about it (wow, right?). Later up the road, I dated a guy whose mom used to call me "the preachin' heathen". It's not the nicest thing to call someone, but because of my past wounds, it just felt like more discrediting. So when she would say that, I would seethe. For about 10 years now, I'm in a good place with my calling and with church, in general. I just saw ole' boy's mom not too long ago and she said something slick to me, in jest more than anything else. I greeted her and moved on. The wound is a scar and a faint one, at that. She is no longer able to trigger me. So yes, in order to deactivate a trigger, first get down to the source of it and heal that place.
How to Handle Those Who Trigger You
And what should you do about the people who are actually triggering you? The ones who usually aren't the source, but are still getting on your last nerve? There are layers to that question, but here are a few approaches to consider:
Don't ignore or dismiss how you're feeling. Remember, a part of the reason why a lot of us have triggers is because we don't feel like our emotions were validated at the point of our wound. So, whatever emotion is rising up in you, listen to it. Take a moment to figure out what it needs. If it's space, give it that. If it's setting a boundary with an individual, allow it the dignity to do that. If it's an affirmation from you, honor it with that.
Think before you respond. Here's the thing that I've learned about trigger-ers. A lot of times, they are so clueless that, if you do pop-off, they are only going to trigger you some more as an act of retaliation. That said, I can't recall one time when taking 5-10 seconds to deep breathe while saying absolutely nothing made matters worse or backfired on me. Even if you want to "checkmate" someone, is it worth it? Ask yourself that before you do.
Be honest with yourself about someone's motive. Some folks are malicious; they just are. But sometimes, someone triggers us, and they absolutely did not mean to. Following through with the second thing that I just mentioned gives you a moment to process where the trigger-er is coming from. If you know they are unaware or just teasing, address them from that space. If you sense that it is direct or even passive aggressive disrespect, it's time to do the next thing that I'm about to mention.
Explain the trigger. Make a firm request. You will spare yourself a lot of miscommunication with folks if 1) you stop expecting them to know what's going on in your head and 2) you don't look for them to respond to something (or someone) in the way that you would. I remember someone once coming up to me and telling me how I needed to handle my relationship with an abusive member in my family. Their bold ignorance and arrogance? A trigger. When I said, "Umm, are you aware of the trauma that I experienced? I think you should have the facts before you speak on something like that." The surprise on their face showed me that they had no clue. I proceeded to say that that is something that we didn't need to talk about again. It hasn't come up again.
Reward choosing to respond rather than react. No doubt about it—it takes a lot of maturity, introspection and self-control to learn how to respond vs. react. Even more to master the fine line of when even a response is necessary at all. As I've worked more and more on my own trigger-management, the main thing that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind is that reacting to a trigger takes a lot out of me. Do I want to expend a lot of energy? Do I want to feel "outside of myself"? Is reacting to this person going to change anything for the better? When all of those answers are "no", I typically choose instead to calm down, state a boundary if needed and then reward myself for handling my own being with caution and care.
Triggers suck. All of us have them. But no matter how long you've been getting triggered, know that you have the power to no longer let them have power over you. Heal the wound. Process the trigger. Respond if necessary. Set a boundary. Move on.
And just like that, the trigger is deactivated. Well, looka there.
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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 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 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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