Joy is a 2x Author, Empowerment Speaker, and Strategy Coach. Her platform, Speak With Joy, mission is, "To empower and equip Women and Young Adults to speak with JOY despite life's circumstances in the area of FAITH, PURPOSE, and RELATIONSHIPS".
Friendship groups, often referred to as tribes, gained immense popularity during the pandemic, celebrated for the mutual support and joy they bring. However, the discourse surrounding these groups often neglected a nuanced topic— the silent competition that can subtly emerge within a tribe. While some level of healthy competition can inspire personal growth, there exists an unhealthy side marked by emotions and pride.
Navigating such environments becomes challenging, especially when friendships are at stake. Navigating competition is not an easy task and for many folks, identifying unhealthy competition can be difficult to spot. I am going to provide you with the signs to look out for when dealing with unhealthy competition, how to effectively address it, and tangible ways to maintain supportive friendships.
There's nothing quite as fulfilling as being part of a vibrant community where individuals align in values, support one another, and uplift with words of encouragement. Yet, this ideal scenario isn't always the reality within friend circles or tribes. Frequently, unchecked jealousy, envy, and resentment can simmer beneath the surface, leading to unhealthy dynamics. Sadly, this can breed a toxic atmosphere of covert competition, often without the affected party even realizing it.
Here are some indicators that unhealthy competition may be present within your circle of friends:
Backhanded Compliments: When Insults Hide in "Praise"
Insults, whether veiled as compliments or not, are never truly flattering. Even when accompanied by laughter, unsolicited comments about your appearance, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, and more are never acceptable. In essence, anyone exhibiting "nice nasty" behavior toward you is revealing underlying animosity and competition. Moreover, they might consistently downplay or criticize your achievements or goals.
Take note of those who stand by you during challenging times and ponder this question: "Do they offer the same level of support and enthusiasm during my triumphs?" If the answer is no, it might be worth delving deeper into the topic.
Another indication of silent competition arises when someone constantly shifts the focus of your accomplishments and good news onto themselves. For example, if you share news of a promotion at work, the silent competitor may divert attention by recounting their own promotion or downplaying your achievements. These individuals struggle to genuinely celebrate your wins and may even feel threatened by your success.
Their body language often reveals their discomfort, such as avoiding eye contact, forced smiles, frowns, or creating physical distance. Paying attention to these cues can unveil the presence of silent rivalry within the relationship.
Now that you're aware of the signs to watch for, let's explore how to navigate this newfound insight:
Before taking any action, it's crucial to decide whether you want to salvage the friendship. Ask yourself if this relationship is truly worth the effort and if it brings positive value to your life. If your answer leans towards the negative, it might be time to reevaluate the necessity of maintaining this friendship.
Once you've made a decision about the future of your friendship, it's important to prepare for a potentially challenging conversation.
- If you've chosen to maintain the friendship, it's helpful to articulate the patterns you've noticed and express your feelings about them. Remember, no one can invalidate your experiences or emotions on the matter. After stating your observations, it's crucial to clearly communicate your expectations regarding respect and boundaries. You have the authority to define how you wish to be treated, but it's essential to assert these boundaries clearly.
- If you've decided to end the friendship, you have a couple of options. You can be straightforward about your feelings regarding the dynamic and communicate that you're no longer interested in maintaining the relationship. Alternatively, you can express your true feelings and gradually distance yourself from the friendship. This distancing might involve refraining from sharing personal news and accomplishments or reducing the frequency of spending time together.
While unhealthy competition within social circles may not always be avoidable, it can certainly be managed effectively. If you're still uncertain whether you're dealing with unhealthy competition, consider this golden rule: If you find yourself questioning a friend's motives due to their negative behavior towards you, chances are there's unhealthy competition at play.
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Many people will agree that 2023 was a hot mess in the dating streets.
I have heard and read countless stories of women who were in years-long situationships or found out that their partner lived a different life than what they initially portrayed, not to mention the endless amount of ghosting stories were on the rise. As a result, 2023 left a lot of women emotionally and mentally exhausted when it came to dating. Some women even decided to throw away dating and relationships altogether due to their experiences.
Dating and relationships may not be a walk in the park, but I do believe that healthy relationships and positive dating experiences can still take place in 2024. Despite the toxic conversations taking place on podcasts, Instagram Lives, and other social media platforms, I do believe that there are both men and women who desire healthy love and dating experiences. Unfortunately, social media does not do a good job of broadcasting the platforms that are having healthy conversations around dating and relationships or highlighting the folks who genuinely desire it.
It is no secret that dating altogether has caused many folks to experience major insecurities, become depressed, or even hopeless in this area. If dating in 2023 has had a negative impact on your mental health, please do not rush into dating in 2024. Take the necessary time to process, heal, and get therapy if needed. Experiencing heartbreak is never something to take lightly. Therefore, take as much time as you need to heal and grow into a better version of yourself.
As we step into 2024, some individuals are still hopeful and emotionally healthy when it comes to dating and relationships. If you are one of those people who desire to experience a healthy and fulfilling relationship, it is crucial that you bid farewell to certain unhealthy dating habits from 2023.
1.Shifting from a scarcity mindset:
The pervasive belief in a limited dating pool has led some to settle for less than they deserve. Embracing a scarcity mindset often results in accepting the bare minimum, enduring minimal effort, and tolerating poor communication from a partner. Break free from this mindset, and avoid investing time in someone who only provides breadcrumbs of attention. Elevate your standards and seek a connection based on mutual respect and effort.
2.Avoiding situationships at all costs:
While we hoped to leave this behind in 2023, the temptation to engage in situationships may still linger, especially when physical attraction and a strong desire for a relationship are involved. However, it's essential to distinguish between genuine interest in a committed relationship and mere entertainment. Don't let the desperation for companionship hinder your path to finding a meaningful connection in 2024. Be intentional about pursuing relationships that align with your desire for commitment and shared goals.
When it comes to asking intentional questions while dating, one of the best tips I can offer is to inquire about what the individual is looking for and then patiently ‘watch’ for their response. It's common for excitement to arise, especially when someone expresses a desire for a relationship. However, it's equally important to pay attention to their actions. Consider words as an opportunity to open a door for a more thorough evaluation of what someone's actions truly confirm.
3.Having flexibility with your "type":
Debates often arise when it comes to being flexible with one's dating preferences. Reflect on whether your rigid adherence to a specific "type" has contributed positively to your dating experiences. Consider reevaluating height requirements, job titles, salary, and other superficial criteria that might limit your opportunities for genuine connections. While I am not suggesting that your standards are wrong, it may be worth considering if your current ‘type’ or ‘list’ is playing a role in why you're single.
In this reflective time, be sure to hold onto core values and beliefs as your non-negotiables and date from that stance. However, do not forget to be open-minded in other aspects to enhance opportunities for genuine connections.
4.Understanding silence won't bring satisfaction:
Effective communication is crucial, reducing confusion and unmet expectations. My therapist once emphasized the unfairness of expecting someone to meet your unknown expectations. In dating, being unapologetic about your needs is essential. While compromise is a must, sharing your values, like communication style, faith, and dating expectations, is vital.
When you're clear and honest about your needs, you give the other person an opportunity to make an effort to meet them. They may not be perfect, but the goal is to evaluate genuine effort. Muting yourself in dating can lead to accumulating resentment, heartbreak, and disempowerment in your interactions.
Remember, incorporating these changes doesn't guarantee an immediate relationship, but it positions you for a healthier one when the time is right. Here's to anticipating a relationship filled with health and devoid of unnecessary struggles in 2024. Cheers to a year of growth and meaningful connections!
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It was December of 2009 that I made an impromptu decision to cut my permed hair off. My reason for making that drastic change was due to ending a dating relationship at the time and the painful experience I went through from relaxing my hair in my dorm a couple of months prior. Cutting my hair immediately left me feeling bold yet boy-ish whenever I found myself dressing down or not wearing lavish earrings. After several months experimenting with wearing twist-outs, dyeing it myself (I was extra bold with that) and even getting my first blowout (that later resulted in heat damage), I thought I'd been hiding my beautiful kinks due to laziness.
However, the truth is that I was intimidated by and ashamed of my hair.
Well 10 years after back-to-back crochet braids, sew-ins, wigs, and braids, I decided to just let my hair out to breathe for once! As a result, I learned five important things:
1. When you are not taught how to properly care for your natural hair, you see it as a barrier.
It was not until I was put in a position to care for my hair that I had no choice but to do it. It was a rocky start because I felt defeated and really believed I had no options until I gave experimenting on my hair another chance. The more I continued to play around in my hair, without a defeated mindset, the more I grew to love it and no longer felt intimidated by caring for it.
2. Finally wearing my natural hair actually boosted my confidence.
I felt more beautiful and confident when my natural hair was out. There is nothing wrong with wearing a weave or braids! (I repeat, there is nothing wrong! In fact, I will probably wear a protective hairstyle soon.) But it was not until I let my hair out in a 'fro that I looked in the mirror and embraced my strong jawline and beautifully shaped eyes.
I realized that my previous hairstyles were my hiding place and it was not until I let my hair out that I felt free. You need the confidence to rock any hairstyle, however, it takes a special kind of confidence to rock your hair in its natural state. That confidence is truly felt in every room you walk into.
3. Hair is literally versatile from its roots.
Whether you decide to leave it out, cut it, relax it, dye it, wear a wig or braids, our hair is not one-size-fits-all and that is why Black hair is beautiful. Being able to do a multitude of things with my hair at any time is truly unique and empowering.
4. Media played a major role in how I viewed the beauty of my hair.
Since I rarely saw women with 4C hair in the media, I felt helpless with how I could care for my hair and as a result, wore my hair in back-to-back protective hairstyles. It was not until I came across Ijeoma Kola online that I felt seen because sis' hair looks just like mine and she always has amazing style tips!
5. Starting over and cutting my hair was a really dope feeling.
When I did my big chop, I wanted a change and what better way to do so by cutting off dead weight: the hair that carried so many negative memories with the guy. There was a sense of freedom and relief when a pair of scissors caressed the strands of hair on my scalp.
As you can see, Black hair is not only beautiful, and it is a never-ending learning experience of self. My relationship with my hair has had its ups and downs, but in the end, it led me to a healthier outlook.
To get your beauty fix and to stay up to date with the latest trends, check out the xoNecole Beauty section here.
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In the past several months, self-care has been painted as a luxurious act that is often earned but in reality, it must be everyone's norm. You should not and do not need to earn self-care because every day should entail the care of self. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many women due to scheduling conflicts, work, friendships/relationships, family, and additional obligations.
Part of the reason many women have had such a difficult time making time for self-care is because it is often illustrated as being a grand type of practice such as traveling, going to the spa, shopping, going out to eat and more. While all of those things are indeed self-care practices, it is essential that people keep in mind that due to the state of our world, we may not have access to all of those options or may not feel comfortable partaking in them.
With that being said, it is essential that we reframe our thinking of self-care as micro self-care.
Micro self-care takes on the approach of self-care as being feasible despite one's schedule or personal obligations. Below are some practical and feasible micro-self care practices that every woman can practice today.
A nice 20-minute walk while listening to your favorite tunes can turn your day around. Working out is not confined to the gym or with a trainer. You can go on a brisk walk and burn some calories if you cannot make it to the gym.
Breathing techniques can refocus you if you are having a stressful day. I suggest breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus on your breathing and clear your mind. Doing this for just five minutes a day can bring relief throughout the day.
Coloring is not just for kids. It is for adults too! Some of the benefits of adult coloring is:
- Stress and anxiety decreases
- Mindfulness occurs since are focusing on the present
- You begin to think positively
Spring cleaning is not just a yearly act, it can be daily, weekly, or monthly. There is something about decluttering your space and getting rid of the things that no longer brings you joy or comfort as prophetic. Cleaning your space can create space and peace in your environment and at the time that we are in, who would not want to experience that.
Do Absolutely Nothing & Actually Rest
For the busy woman who is usually juggling multiple projects, attending various events and meetings, this may be a bit challenging to do and that is the act of doing absolutely nothing.
When your weekly schedule is often filled with fulfilling tasks or your to-do list, doing nothing teaches your body and mind to rest. Very often people believe that if they work despite feeling exhausted that they are "ahead of the rest". However, the reality is that even though you are indeed checking off your to-do list, you are not doing quality work.
Remember, you can only do your best after experiencing a place of rest.
As you can see, some of the ways to practice micro self-care does not take much effort and it is actually practical. I challenge you to not limit yourself with the suggestions provided and explore new micro self-care practices. Now, more than ever, is the time that we shift the narrative around self-care no longer being a luxury but a part of one's daily routine.
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Originally pubished on April 21, 2021
Dating today can feel like a boxing match. You start the fight filled with energy and excitement but once you get in the ring and endure that heavy hit, your energy is drastically depleted. That is how dating is often experienced in many women's lives. I believe one of the reasons why dating has become so difficult is because many people do not date with boundaries. As a result, many individuals stay in dating relationships that should have long expired.
One of the biggest questions I get about dating is, when is it appropriate to walk away from a dating situation? Below are 3 things to take into consideration when deciding whether or not you should walk away from a dating relationship.
1. When the person blatantly tells you that they are not ready for a relationship BUT you are.Giphy
Time and time again, this has been many people's issue because it is a very tough pill to swallow since rejection sucks! However, if you are clear about what you need and your dating partner does not align with that, it is no longer considered dating but wasted time. Therefore, it is critical that you develop confidence to ask tough questions such as, "Are you ready for a relationship?" or "What are you looking for?"
If alignment is not present, then your absence must be.
2. If your dating partner does not have clear boundaries established and practiced with their ex.Yara Shahidi Reaction GIF by grown-ishGiphy
No one wants to be "boo boo the fool" but if you are not careful, you can quickly find yourself in those shoes. Having boundaries with an ex lover is wise but it is sometimes not followed by many people for various reasons such as:
- Being content with the flow of being in communication with them
- There are still strong feelings present
If the person you are dating is not following clear boundaries from a past lover, you can quickly find yourself in a very sticky and uncomfortable situation.
Boundaries are meant to cultivate clarity and when that is lacking, you position yourself in trying to "prove your worth" in hopes that the person sees it too.
The problem with that notion is that you will never supersede the person who has an in-depth history with them. Now I am not saying that people cannot be friends with their ex, because you can. But in that friendship, it is essential that boundaries such as no physical intimacy, reminiscing about the romantic love that was once shared, and more, is being implemented.
If you are experiencing that problem now, I strongly suggest talking to your dating partner about your uneasiness regarding the interaction with their ex and pay very close attention to how they respond. If that individual is defensive about your concerns or gaslights you, then it may be a good idea to step away. If they cannot empathize where you are coming from, then it does not matter how good of a woman you are; you will never be good enough for them.
Listen, a man will never jeopardize something that he finds great value in.
3. If you feel like you are pulling teeth.awkward dating GIFGiphy
Pulling teeth can look like an assortment of things. But in essence, it is often depicted when the interest tends to be one-sided. If you find yourself initiating all of the conversations and dates, that is a problem. Effort is not simply a one-sided thing; it should be shared. Pursuit is beautiful when the other person signals the green light; continuously. Dating is not for lazy or bored people because it takes work. Getting to know anyone takes a lot of work and unfortunately there are people who think that the work begins when a title is established.
God loves you way too much to bring you a man who expects you to do all of the work! Save your time and energy for a person who will respect and value it.
*Bonus Tip: If you have a non-negotiable that you have vocalized to be of extreme value to you yet it is not being honored and respected.Respect GIFGiphy
Your non-negotiable is for you and if you have certain things you hold very closely to your heart and you have vocalized it yet the person is not honoring it such as sex, moving, finances and more; then pack your emotional bags sis. This may sound very extreme but keep in mind that your non-negotiables are tied to your values and your values make up who you are. I am not saying that you have to agree with everything, because you do not, but there must be respect.
A lack of respect in dating will in fact follow in a dating relationship and marriage. Everyone is not for you and that is OK!
As you can see, dating is not super easy but it is not meant to be difficult or complicated. Therefore, it is critical that you go into dating with 3C's in mind: Contentment, Clarity, and Confidence.
Be content in being single while dating because if not, desperation will lead the way. Be clear about your values and what you are actually looking for because you can quickly spot the people who do and do not align with it. Be confident!
You are a beautiful woman and any person who does not see that does not make you beautiful as far from the truth.
For more love and relationships, features, dating tips and tricks, and marriage advice, check out xoNecole's Sex & Love section here.
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The past year and a half has taught us that life is not fair and that many individuals have experienced deep hurt, anxiety, depression and more. The unfortunate part about life circumstances is that we do not have control over them. However, we can control how we respond to things. Positive coping mechanisms are meant to build one's resilience and redirect one's stress level. When dealing with a stressful situation, it is essential to evaluate and determine if you need to change your situation or discover a way to cope with the matter.
Various studies have spoken about two types of coping: problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Problem-focused coping is when you need to change your situation such as getting rid of the cause of stress. Emotion-focused coping is when you focus on your emotions since you cannot or do not want to change the situation that is causing you stress.
After you have determined the approach in which you are going to take, the implementation of how you choose to cope begins. It is essential that you create a plan of how you decide to deal with stressful moments because it is quite easy to adopt unhealthy methods that can have a negative effect. For example, an individual may decide to binge on junk food as a way of dealing with a hard day of work or finish a bottle of wine or two as a form of dealing with rejection. Both options may seem harmless at first until one's health is in jeopardy.
As you can see, a healthy approach to coping is for your own benefit. So when and if you are experiencing stress or dealing with a difficult time, the following coping mechanisms can be effective.
- Working out releases endorphins that are "feel-good" chemicals that drastically brightens up one's mood. Working out gives you an opportunity to redirect and exhaust your stress and frustrations.
- There is something soothing about taking all of the thoughts in your head and writing them on a piece of paper. Keeping things in is not healthy. Therefore, I encourage you to write your feelings out.
Ask for help (problem-focused):
- Asking for help is never easy to do but it may need to be the very first thing for you to do if the very thing that is causing you stress can be rectified once help arrives.
Implementing a positive coping mechanism into your routine takes time and it is an individualized approach. Meaning, what may work for one person may or may not work for you. Having an open mind allows you to try new coping techniques. You will be very surprised that the technique that you least thought to be helpful may be the most relieving approach.
If you are finding positive coping mechanisms ineffective, I strongly suggest that you speak with a licensed mental health professional who can be of assistance.
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