Self-Help

The Transformative Power of Reading

Transformative Power of Reading

(Photo Credit: Black Christian News Network)

One of the most powerful ways to awaken, develop, strengthen, and renew your inner intellectual is through reading substantive pieces each day. When you read substantive works, your knowledge grows, your imagination becomes broader, and your capacity to dream elevates. Reading permits you to not only discover many or most of the answers you seek, but also it enables you to formulate the right questions, questions that will lead you to a better, more interesting, and more successful life. This intentional focus on your inner intellectual will pay true dividends in enhancing your self-concept and naturally and ultimately your self-esteem.

When you read quality material, material that relates to your interests, aspirations, and search for answers, your purposeful reading will serve as a strong defense against negative factors affecting and influencing your self-concept and self-esteem.

Reading substantive literature, such as slave narratives, allows for you to place the challenges, barriers, and problems you face in their proper context. When you read slave narratives, you will learn about individuals who persevered and triumphed in impossible conditions—conditions much more difficult than you will ever be able to imagine. These stories about how American heroes and heroines endured these impossible conditions will inspire you to continue to strive for success—even when success falsely appears unlikely and barriers seem like they will never be conquered. Look for the strategies, values, principles, and thinking that led to those individuals’ success. Find ways to incorporate what contributed to their success into your own life.

Use your school library, public library, and the internet to find books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals. One of the greatest investments you can make in yourself each day is to read something that is going to support your interests and place you further on the path to achieving your goals. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t waste a moment in self-doubt. Expand your knowledge, expand your horizons, expand your imagination through a commitment to reading meaningful books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals.

A commitment to purposeful reading every day is one of the most powerful ways of strengthening your self-concept and self-esteem. With this commitment, your mind becomes occupied with self-advancement, pursuing your interests, and meeting your goals.

Let books and articles occupy your mind, limiting the amount of time for condemnation, peer pressure, and self-doubt to discourage you and halt your progress.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Let the Power of Discovery Begin at Home

Black Family

(Photo Credit: Black Enterprise)

Before you go out exploring phenomena outside of your home, discover the new things you can learn about those inside of your home.  How often do you ask questions to those in your immediate family?  How well do you really know your family members?  Too often we assume we know a tremendous amount about our immediate family members, but there can be so many things we don’t know about them.  Many people can be so busy trying to find out what’s going on in other people’s homes that they’re missing the greatest attractions developing inside of their own homes.

Parents, how well do you know your children’s friends?  For parents with older children who are in relationships, how well do you know the individuals they’re in relationships with?  Do you know why your children decided to be in relationships with these individuals?  How did they first meet and what attracted them?  Are your children too secretive about their relationships?  Why?  Do you have children you find it strange that they are even in intimate relationships?  Have you asked questions that will provide you with more information to make it less strange?  These aforementioned queries are just some you can posed to members of your immediate family to discover some potentially novel things.

One of the best ways to build and maintain strong families is to place a strong value on communication in your home.  Your home should be a place where frank and open communication are truly valued.  The members of your immediate family should feel comfortable to talking to one another about virtually anything.  One thing I’m very proud of about my immediate family is the members of the family feel comfortable talking to one another about anything.  We can share things with one another without feeling like any member is going to bring condemnation for what’s disclosed.  My immediate family is loving and supportive, and it has been the welcoming and embracing of frank and unrestricted communication that has been essential to the love in my family.

If you talk more to your immediate family members, you may learn ways you can be useful in helping them to overcome physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual challenges and problems.  Before sending a family member to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, determine if this is even necessary.  Those situated inside the home can serve as the only psychologist or psychiatrist the person needs.  We often miss opportunities to be helpful to those who live in our own homes because we allow ourselves to become too busy to look for the potential needs of our family members.

Use this piece as a conversation-starter with the members of your immediate family.  Let this piece become a way for you to ask questions of the members of your immediate family that you’ve always wanted to know or failed to ask.  You may discover some things about your immediate family members you needed to know before they died.  Don’t make your family members think you’ve turned into a private investigator (unless you truly are one).  Just let them know you want to grow closer as a family through the power of discourse and inquiry.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Develop Your Own Fashion Style

Andre 3000

(Photo Credit: BET)

Let your fashion style come from within.  Don’t look to others about how you should dress.  You already have the answer inside of you.  While it’s okay to draw inspiration from the way others dress, your fashion style should represent who you are; therefore, it’s going to have true originality.  The fundamental way to destroy the originality of your fashion style is to copy others and/or idolize the fashion styles of others.  You will end up looking like a cheap copy of others, and those folks you’re copying and/or idolizing could simply be cheap copies of others.  Do you see how the chain of cheap copies begins and persists?

It’s important to understand that simply dressing “weird” and making a painstakingly ridiculous effort to be “different” from everyone else isn’t being original.  Again, let your fashion style emerge naturally from within.  For ladies who take Lady Gaga as your model for dressing “different,” Gaga’s radical fashion will have you looking like a person who attempts to dress like her; ultimately, you will have a foolish appearance. It’s okay to draw inspiration from Lady Gaga but don’t strive to dress just like her.  For guys who take Andre 3000 as your model for dressing “different,” you’re going to look silly if you try to dress just like him.  His fashion style represents what comes natural for him.  What’s natural for him isn’t going to be natural for you—you’re two different people.

When it comes having a fashion style that represents you, less may be more.  Pharrell Williams’ fashion style offers a great example of less is more. Yeah, he may choose a hat to wear that catches your attention, but no one said that less is more had to be boring.

People who truly feel they dress well don’t go around flaunting it either.  They simply walk with confidence and grace about how they look.  Never do they feel the need to disclose with you the large amount of money they paid for their clothing and accessories, and never do they launch attacks on others about the way they dress.  People who have their own unique fashion styles don’t go around acting as if they’re God’s gifts to fashion or the fashion industry, and they don’t go around acting like they should be fashion teachers.

Stop fawning over the way other people dress and get more in tune with the fashion style that’s best for you. What you have on should never wear you; you should be wearing it.  Unfortunately, many people who choose to dress in “innovative” ways have on things that are wearing them.  These people often are seeking to draw attention to themselves, but they never seem to contemplate the truth behind the reactions they receive from people. While many people will give you praise in your face about what you have on, behind your back they’re exposing you for how foolish you’ve consciously decided to make yourself look.

You must understand the importance of being yourself when it comes to what you wear.  What you wear should provide a true snapshot of the person you are.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Need A Reality Check

Reality Check

(Photo Credit: Globster)

Sometimes you have to give people a reality check.  Reality checks are beneficial for people.  They help to provide people with the necessary understanding of who they are and how they developed into the people they are today.  Too often people get selective amnesia and think that they simply arrived where they are without the help of anyone else.  It’s important to help people to realize they may only be as good as those who helped them to get where they are today.  Unfortunately, individuals can fool themselves into actually believing their own lies. When you live and believe your own lies, you’re delusional, and delusional people need to be placed in a mental facility for treatment.  Are you a delusional person needing to benefit from mental health services because you live and believe your own lies?

Don’t be afraid to check yourself into a mental health facility to receive the mental health treatment you need to overcome psychological problems.

The fundamental reason why people would rather live a lie than the truth is they don’t have the confidence in who they really are to live the truth. They believe the lies they live are going to mask the truth about them, but you can never camouflage the truth about yourself; the majority of folks will recognize the truth about you. When you attempt to hide the truths about yourself, you’re simply wasting time.  All of the time you invest in being phony could be used to make serious advancements toward becoming the person you long to be.

Do you realize that phony people are dangerous?  Why are they dangerous?  They are dangerous because they will inevitably become so frustrated that the only way they can live with themselves is to destroy the people around them.  If you don’t believe this, you haven’t been around people who are truly delusional.  When you have an experience with a really delusional person, he or she will aid you in understanding why he or she (and others like him or her) has the potential to cause you and others great harm.

We need to have greater national discourses in America about mental health.  Our national conversations about mental health, however, cannot overlook the importance of calling people to be themselves.  There must be stronger encouragement for people to welcome and appreciate truth, including truths about themselves.  When people have a better appreciation and embracement of truth, they will begin to love themselves genuinely.  A healthy love of yourself is essential.  You cannot truly love yourself until you embrace everything about yourself, including your ugly truths.

Recognize that your ugly truths are present to let you know that you’re still human and imperfect.  Keep working to improve those things about yourself that displease you.  You must, however, know that there are some things about yourself that you cannot change.  Some things about yourself are simply a part of who you were created to be.

When God created you, He made only one of you.  Be proud to be the person God wonderfully made you to be. He made you special; it’s your job to recognize it and thank Him for it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

New Beginnings, New Opportunities

Happy Black Woman

(Photo Credit: Mommy Noire)

Sometimes you have to allow yourself to move away from stagnant, declining and decaying spaces to offer yourself new opportunities to reach your highest potential. Too often people’s talents aren’t able to be used or are being wasted in unproductive spaces. Embracing the status quo and/or being overtaken by a spirit of complacency leads people to develop a false consciousness that they’re truly at “home” in these restrictive spaces. When you feel like you’re not growing and aren’t able to maximize your potential, it can be quite useful to consider the spaces you’re occupying.  Are you really happy where you are in life right now?  If you’re not, you may want to contemplate the impact the spaces you frequent or dwell in are having on your ability to experience happiness.

Don’t simply stay in a place to make the people around you happy.  Why would you want to live a miserable life just to make other people happy? Does not your own happiness matter too?  If you’re going to be truly happy and successful, you must have a willingness to take risks.  Find a successful person who never took a risk.  Let me save you some time: you won’t find one.

When you depart from spaces you have frequented or inhabited for a long time, it’s natural to experience some separation anxiety as a result of leaving people you love. Take the necessary time to deal with the impact of this separation anxiety, but don’t lose sight of the true happiness and prosperity you desire to materialize.  At some point, you’re going to have to learn the importance of keeping your emotions in check. Successful people don’t give their emotions the power to rule them; they rule their emotions.  If you allow your emotions to run you, then you will make many emotional decisions; emotional decisions are often poor and damaging decisions.

You may have to try or learn some new things to make room for new beginnings and new opportunities.  Don’t get frustrated with the new thing you have to learn.  You have to understand that the new thing you have to learn is a part of the process of getting to the life you long to live. The path to success is not going to be easy and it’s not going to come without some struggle.  When you muster the courage to pursue new beginnings and new opportunities, you have to develop a resolute mindset to meet your aspirations.  You have to be determined to accomplish your goals no matter what comes your way.

Recognize that there will be people who will attempt to discourage you from pursuing new beginnings and new opportunities, but you must view them as only hindrances.  Don’t permit a single hindrance to stifle your progress in any way.  Keep pushing forward, even if you have to push your hindrances literally out of the way.

Be excited about pursuing new beginnings and new opportunities.  One of the amazing things about life is you never know what great opportunity will come your way.  It’s up to you, however, to engender an environment where new beginnings and new opportunities run to you instead of run away from you.

Life becomes sweeter and sweeter when we’re open to change.  Change can be good for you.  Go ahead and give yourself a chance to be a better you!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Get to the Heart of the Matter

White Couple

(Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

When you desire to have a serious discourse with someone, be sure you’re ready to be transparent with him or her. Beating around the metaphorical bush with the person you’re communicating with can cause him or her to distrust you.  It can appear to him or her that you have something to hide.  If you truly don’t have anything to conceal from the person, then get to the heart of the matter; that is, let the person know what’s truly on your mind.  When you’re having an important conversation with an individual and you’re not as forthcoming as possible, one has to wonder if it’s really a conversation or not; it could just be a performance.

No one wants to feel like he or she is banging his or her head against the wall just to get you to offer a smidgen of candor.  The reality is many people aren’t prepared to engage in frank discourses with others.  One can posit that most relationship problems, including legal separations and divorces, are a result of a failure to have bold communication.  Too many people lack the boldness to have the conversations that need to take place.

People will never really know what’s bothering you if you’re not willing to tell them.  You will discover that it’s liberating to disclose to people how you’re really feeling.

Although it may not be what you want to hear, you reveal yourself to be a coward when you lack the courage to say what needs to be said.  This is why it’s vital to help people to overcome their fears.  By helping more people to overcome their fears, there will be a reduction in the number of people who allow the fear to communicate candidly to hinder or sever their various relationships.

Some people are afraid to have bold conversations because they are fearful of confrontation.  It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing confrontation.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid of confrontation and who aren’t afraid to have frank discourses with you are demonstrating maturity.  There will be some who will say they just love drama, but the reality is mature people never leave what needs to be said unsaid.

Being bold about what you say does not mean being intentionally hurtful to others.  You can speak truthfully to people without being abrasive. Just don’t let the potential of someone getting hurt by your words prevent you from saying what needs to be said, however.  Ultimately, the person who receives your candid words will be better off having heard your words.

When a person is honest with you, what he or she says to you may make you angry.  Give the person credit for being truthful.  Respond to the truth in a mature way.  You don’t want people to avoid speaking candidly to you because they know you will react immaturely.  The way we receive truth will unveil important revelations about us, even some revelations we may not be ready to receive.

It’s time to get real with the people around you, and it’s time to get real with yourself.  Have the essential discourses you need to have today.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Acknowledging Regrets Can Move You Forward

Emotional Health

(Photo Credit: CDC)

We all have our regrets.  Although we shouldn’t live a life full of regrets, it can be quite liberating to deal candidly with your regrets.  You may have invested greatly in people who have evinced that they were not worthy of your time, but the time you devoted to them speaks volumes about your character.  Even though those individuals may now be your enemies, learn to appreciate the lessons you’ve learned from your interactions with those who have proved themselves to lack gratitude.  Don’t allow your life to become consumed by focusing on regrets; instead, take the necessary time to think critically about the things you regret.

Too often people are afraid to confront challenges in their lives that make them uncomfortable.  Although many would have you to believe that you need to do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable, it’s beneficial to have a constant healthy level of discomfort present.  Discomfort unveils to us that we’re human.  If you’re always avoiding phenomena that cause discomfort, then you’re trying to remove yourself from experiencing inexorable dimensions of the human condition.  You’re going to have to recognize that staying away from discomfort is going to limit your progression significantly.  Ultimately, you will discover your most impactful regret is failing to assess the emotional and physical toll of your regrets.

Forgiving yourself and the people who have hurt you are essential to experiencing true progress.  The regrets you have about past and present relationships and decisions you’ve made have to be placed in the proper context: you and others are human.  Every human being has made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes.  When you don’t forgive yourself and others for mistakes, then the weight of those mistakes hold you down, stifling any chance of you moving forward in life.  A failure to forgive yourself and others results in bitterness, even if you don’t recognize it.  You have to resolve whether you’re going to allow your own mistakes and those of others to defeat you.

Be open to a new beginning with yourself and others.

It’s important for you to realize you’re not the only one who has regrets.  Spend some time talking to others about their regrets and how they process them.  The discourses you have with them can offer you some practices you can employ to place your regrets in an appropriate context.

What if someone has hurt me so deeply, though?  Welcome to the real world.  On this planet that we inhabit, someone is going to do something to cause you harm, whether it be directly or indirectly.  Learn the lessons from your experiences with the person and move on to better people and things.

Don’t turn your regrets into more than they should be.  Do you really just want to be a drama queen or king?  If not, make a commitment to transform every regret into an empowering opportunity.  No one desires to be around someone who is emotionally exhausting.  You can run the people you need to succeed in life away from you.

Take a close emotional inventory.  What are the things keeping you from progressing?  How can you address them?  After you respond to those two questions, devise a practical plan for implementing the solutions birthed from your critical emotional inventory.  If you would like to involve others in this process, understand that this can be beneficial.

Refuse to allow your regrets to dominate you.  Choose to live and win!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison