If You Want To Get To The Root Of Things, Try My One-Word Test
I really like words. I write for a living. I have quotes all over my bedroom. I'm always looking up word definitions. I'm currently studying the Hebrew language. My top love language is Words of Affirmation. Ask any of the editors I've had and they'll tell you that I'm the girl who goes over the word cap with almost every article I write. Words are my thang.
Most times, all of this works in my favor. But there have been instances when my appreciation for lots of words has backfired.
For instance, something that I'm a firm believer in is if you know your purpose in this life, you should be able to break it down into three words (or three terms or phrases). For me, I'm here to speak on sex, marriage, and the Sabbath. Three words. However, I spent A LOT of time not being clear on this, all because being wordy kept me from simplifying things.
Someone would ask me what my calling was and I'd be like, "I mean, I know I really like so-and-so or such-and-such but I can't put my finger on how to explain it in a way that make sense, so…" See how much of a run-on sentence that is? I was so used to using words—and sometimes talking too much—that I wasn't getting to the root of matters. Not only does that drain a lot of energy, it wastes a ton of time.
I had to find a way to remedy this. So, at the top of 2018, something that I decided to do was implement a one-word test. Meaning, I would force myself to break things down in one-word.
I told myself that if I couldn't do that, I was unclear about the issue at hand. And without clarity, it's hard to find any sort of resolve. Here's what I mean:
When I thought about what I needed to get my finances right, the word that came to mind was DISCIPLINE.
When I thought about what I lacked in a lot of my relationships, the word that came to mind was RECIPROCITY.
When I thought about what I needed in order to heal from some family toxicity I was experiencing, the word that came to mind was SPACE.
When I thought about what I lacked in a lot of my relationship dynamics that I would require to move forward, the word that came to mind was PROTECTION.
When I thought about why it was time to end a 15-year relationship with a male "friend" of mine, the word that came to mind was NARCISSISM.
When I thought about what I needed to give myself, the word that came to mind was PAMPERING.
Once I had a word in mind, I started lining up various areas of my life around it.
For example, since I said I needed pampering, I've spent most of this year doing that. I'm not overwhelming myself with a ton of self-work (after all, you typically can only effectively clean one room of a house at a time). I'm not incessantly journaling, taking a ton of self-help seminars or chain reading a pile of books. I'm investing in essential oils, loading up on vitamins and herbs, and keeping my (sometimes weekly) mani/pedi appointments. Because I am focusing all of my energy into pampering—no more, no less—it's teaching me some things about myself that I didn't know before. Things like, a part of the reason why I would get into relationships where there was no "reciprocity" is because I didn't know how to make myself a priority, let alone show others how to do it. Pampering has taught me that.
Or the narcissism thing. Do any of you remember how in the movie Enough (Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell), it was years into their marriage before the husband started showin' out? That's the thing about abuse and staying in abusive situations—sometimes the abuse is so sporadic that you justify staying.
The guy I was in the friendship with is a bonafide NARCISSIST. I mean, the epitome of it. So much so that whenever he would hurt me and I would tell him (remember, I'm wordy so, of course, I told him!), he would either totally ignore me (which is abusive in and of itself) or try and turn it around so that I would end up apologizing to him.
Until I got down to the one word that would adequately describe our cycle, I used to say he was that way because he was hurting or it was due to his own childhood abuse or the pressure surrounding his profession/platform; nonetheless, there is some truth to all of that. Oh, but when I started to study narcissism, not only did I see exactly the kind of person I was dealing with, it also brought me to the conclusion that until he got some therapy and actually did apologize for hurting me (without my asking for it or "babying him" through it), we needed to not communicate. It also helped me to detect narcissists in general.
What's something in your life that you just can't seem to get down to the bottom of? Rather than spending hours on the phone with one of your girlfriends or creating carpal tunnel syndrome by journaling pages of stuff about the issue, how about implementing my one-word test? Describe how you feel, what you need or what is missing in ONE WORD, and then build a plan around that.
Some of the most complex problems have the simplest answers.
Breaking things down into one word has taught me that.
Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on December 5, 2018
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.
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Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports