GROWING up in rural Jamaica was not always easy on a little girl with chocolate skin like mine. I was often the object of racial slurs, from 'black sambo' to 'tar baby', which left me feeling insecure and hurt. Today, I rock to Richie Spice's Black like a tar, owning the words as if I wrote them. I was fortunate to have a wise grandmother who insisted that what others thought of me mattered very little to what I thought of myself.
I started liking myself and would look in the mirror and smile at my reflection. I learnt from an early age that cultivating positive thoughts about myself opened the door for a flood of possibilities in my life.
With more time on our hands, and more time being spent alone, it is increasingly important to be mindful of our thoughts and the negative messages we send to ourselves. Too often we fail to recognise how strong we are, how good we are at our jobs, how kind we are, and how much we are contributing to making the world brighter. Instead, we cultivate and harbour feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and trap ourselves in our histories of pain and trauma.
As you become consumed with dark thoughts, it also becomes easier for the negative words from others to affect you. Nothing that others do or say will make us feel good about ourselves unless we recognise the good in ourselves.
Don Miguel Ruiz's first of Four Agreements is a great guiding tool to live by — be impeccable with your word. Ruiz shares that you can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. Proverbs tells us words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body. Speak good to yourself. Say only what you mean. Say only what you desire. When you speak positively to yourself, negative vibes just cannot enter your space.
For many of us, dressing up and going out gave us a consistent feel good factor. We are stuck at home and so are forced to find joy within ourselves in a confined space. I curl up between musical notes whenever I am feeling a little blue. Peter Tosh's I Am That I Am is one of my favourite songs and each time I listen, I affirm the I am he celebrates in the song. He declares, “You coulda come with isms, you coulda come with schisms, I am. I Am That I Am. I am. I am.” It really doesn't matter what words people throw at you!
That is what impeccability of word does. It is freedom. It is love. You can live in a world with chaos all around you and be completely at peace with yourself.
Adopting a positive mindset is practice. It is focusing on what is good in your life versus the lows.
One of my best friends recently deposited on a house and rather than delight in the joy of owning her own home, she began to worry about finding the right furniture. I had to remind her that owning a home is enough to celebrate.
A positive mindset takes practice and starts with being grateful. Research shows that a shift in the way you talk to yourself influences your ability to regulate your feelings and thoughts.
We can all come out of this isolation as better people. Monitor your thoughts and remind yourself that you are a wonderful being, and rest assured the result is a surge of positive energy and joy that will allow you to present your best self even in the toughest of times.
Coleen Antoinette is a lover of culture and people. She is currently the director of marketing communications at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Share your experiences with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.