Stress and the Black family. How far back does it go? A few days ago, I reposted a meme that I initially posted back in 2017. The meme states, “Stress is a choice. So is peace.” As I sit here today I ask myself in what ways is that a privileged statement. Is it truly a choice for someone who has never known anything other than stress, who was/is reared in a household and environment of stress? Today as I think more I will say that in many ways it is insensitive to say that. I get it and get how once one knows better and attains the skill, changes environment, is around more positivity or less stress, it may in fact be a choice or better yet a more attainable option.
I am a Black woman with a Black family. I am the granddaughter of a sharecropper as well as one whose family still owns a substantial amount of land in Georgia. I say that to say that sharecropping in GA and being Black in GA has not been easy. I know that my grandfather, who never knew his biological parents and was the primary financial provider for a family of 12 was stressed to the max and often frustrated. He worked very hard for minimal pay. During that time that was really his only "choice". I had to ask myself if stress was a choice for him? Did he choose this life? Did his wife, my grandmother, and his children, my mother, aunts and uncles choose this life? Hell no. In fact stress can be passed down through generations. As we begin to learn more about the transmission of stress and trauma it is my hope that it can stop with us, with you and I.
So as I sit here with my privileged ass I acknowledge that stress in many circurmstances is not a choice. I can acknowledge that once we have attained the skills to understand faulty thinking patterns and how they are negatively impacting our lives, the way we choose to manage stress provides us with better choices. However, there are times in life that can test every stress management skill you ever thought you mastered. The one thing I do know is that once you gain those skills, even if it feels like life has taken you down, you won't stay down as long and you won't go down as hard as when you did not have the skills. I did have an experience during the events following the loss of George Floyd where another Black woman told me on Facebook in front of other white women that where commending her that I was choosing to "fight the good fight". That in many ways implies that I was choosing stress. Was I? Does standing up for my people mean that I am choosing stress? Girl bye. I will leave that there.
I have found that learning about and sharing with others what cognitive distortions aka unhealthy/faulty thinking patterns are opens the door to understanding more about how our own perceptions cause stress. It is in the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is an assumption that offers more clarity and in many ways more peace. Getting rid of the mental clutter in our head allows for a more clear spiritual connection, peaceful life, better relationships, improved intuition and the healing of generational stress and trauma.
Below is a list of common cognitive distortions. Make sure to join the email list to receive more information on the upcoming training PEACE IS, for mental health providers, coaches, healthcare and yoga practitioners.