My Radical Self-Love, Care and Boundaries Are Communal (w/ Brittany Janay)

In this week’s episode, Brittany Janay reflects on the mainstream conversations surrounding Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Black women, mental health and boundaries. She shares her thoughts on the beautiful opportunity in this cultural shift we’re experiencing, specifically as it relates to how we show up in community with each other, at work and at home. In the spirit of loving accountability, she also calls attention to the intrapersonal work we must engage in to ensure we are honoring the boundaries set by those in our daily lives, rather than interpreting them as an affront to us. She ends with a Liberated Love Note affirming our inherent worthiness of rest and reminding us that our best effort is always enough — we are enough. 

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TRANSCRIPT

Brittany (00:11): Hey, y’all this is Liberated Love Notes, a podcast on Living Corporate network, hosted by yours truly Brittany Janay, creator of Liberated Love Notes, critical self-reflections, and affirmations for the culture. Y’all are ready know, Liberated Love Notes is your source for weekly doses of self-reflection, affirmation, and reimagining for us by us. Y’all, we are experiencing a cold chair shift. Y’all, I’m talking about Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka. I’m talking mental health, black women and boundaries, in the mainstream, again, this past week. We are experiencing this collective assertion from black women. We are experiencing black women say, you know what, I am over this. We are experiencing black women say, I’m tired. I refuse. We are experiencing black women say, you know what, after this job, your expectations, I’m about to go lay down somewhere, because I deserve. We are experiencing black women remind us, you know what? I don’t care what your [inaudible 00:02:03] system has to say. I deserve.

(02:10): I just think there is something to be said about that affirmation, that reaffirmation, I deserve. We collectively deserve. This impact, this shift certainly has present-day implications, in that, conversations around mental well-being, emotional health, disrupting internalized toxic, internalized forms of capitalism, colonial mindset. Sorry. All of this is certainly having an impact on the present, and what we’re talking about. And, I don’t think it can be overstated the implications for future generations to come y’all. To come. They are offering us possibility.

(03:15): I think when I name, that certainly, refusal resistance to system, rest, none of this is necessarily new. Black people, black women have been for the longest and throughout history refusing as a form of resistance. If you haven’t already, check out the episode, Our Refusal is Divine’, and we talk a little bit more about those or one historical anecdote. I just say all that to say that, yes, there is a present day impacting culture shift, and, it ain’t new. It ain’t new. And so, just want to hold space and honor those who have been in this work, and certainly modeling what we’re experiencing in the main stream, well before it became the main stream.

(04:19): One of the things that has come up for me though, as I’ve just been tracking some of the mainstream attention, Simone, Naomi, even like the Nicole-Hanna Jones’ some of the mainstream attention they’ve garnered. I’ve been reflecting more on just the implications for our day to day.

(04:48): I shared on Twitter that, in as much as we all are having conversations and applauding Simone and Naomi, y’all there are black women in our every day; there are black people with whom we are in community, who deserve the same support when they too, own their agency; when they too model self-love; when they too center care and assert their boundaries. I just felt like that was worth affirming. As I tracked some of what was on my feed, mostly, mostly, mostly positive. I just want to share here that my feed is carefully curated to do just what it says, feed. Feed my soul, feed my spirit. And so, I didn’t really have as much resistance to Naomi and Simone on my feed. I offer that to y’all as a form of self-care and love curate your feed to align with your values.

(06:17): Anyway, that was not my point, but just something I thought was worth insert in there. One of the things that I tracked was a lot of affirmation of Naomi, and Simone Biles, more specifically, this past week. And I thought to myself, you know, it’s all fun in solidarity and it’s all fun in retweets and hashtags, until some one we know, someone we are intimately in community with, models that radical self-love; asserts their boundaries. And we experienced inconvenience as a result. It’s all fun and hashtags y’all. It’s all team Naomi and Simone, until someone we know, every day people, begin to do the same. And more specifically, we experience inconvenience as a result. It hit different. Hit real, real different, and reconciling that. Reconciling, wow they just set a boundary. Wow, they legit just told me no. Wow. Yo, they are choosing themselves in ways I have not been able to, for myself. It hit different.

(08:03): And I think that is worth, just sitting with, and being with. That’s actually that intra-personal. When I talk about that intra-personal reconning work, that’s what I’m referring to. Checking ourselves and this is a loving note of self-accountability y’all. I be having to check myself, when someone shows up in their form of self-love, and prioritization of their mental well-being. I need to be asking myself, what interpretations am I making of how this person is showing up in love for self? Particularly in situations where I now feel inconvenienced. What is my reaction? What is my interpretation saying about me?

(09:13): Where might I be perhaps experiencing some past hurt, or maybe even some unresolved trauma, or maybe even some insecurity? How might that be showing up in my interpretation of how this person is modeling self-love? How might I actually, be perpetuating harm by choosing not to honor their boundaries, but instead, punishing them for it? Those are the questions we gotta be asking ourselves as we make sense of the mainstream dialogue on boundaries, and mental well-being, asserting our love for self. We must also challenge how it shows up in our day to day.

(10:13): I want to offer a definition of boundaries. Just know this is one of my definitions and I think some language around it has been certainly helpful for me. So I’ll just share that, healthy boundaries are standards of engagement. Or expectations that you set with those with whom you are in relationship to prioritize well-being and sense of self. Those relationships can be platonic, friendship, romantic, professional. Boundaries are those standards of engagement, those expectations that you set with those with whom you are in relationship, to prioritize well-being and sense of self.

(11:13): I have been in scenarios, workplace scenarios where folks sure have been inspired by my agency, setting of boundaries, prioritizing self. And, have also experienced scenarios where folks have been challenged by them. Perhaps even, and I would say unintentionally, perhaps even unintentionally make judgments around my commitment or engagement. I too have done the same. I’ve been in personal scenarios where I have taken offense to someone telling me no, y’all. And in context, where, their no, was in service of their own well-being and self-care. If we are not careful, we can interpret someone else’s love, self-love, and centering of care as an affront to us. We can find ourselves intimidated by it, y’all., We can find ourselves intimidated by it if we feel as though we haven’t been given permission to do the same ourselves. I just wonder. I just wonder what it would look like if we took advantage of this cultural shift and really used it as a turning point. A turning point in how we show up in community with each other, whether it be in our work places y’all, but I’m also talking our families, our homes, our communities.

(13:13): Rest, care, radical self-love are communal. And as much as it may start with how we see ourselves, the culture and developing some practice around this rest, and care, and radical, self-love actually help and support us in creating healthier and stronger. Help us to show up more mindfully and I guess, more even critically conscious, more loving and community.

(13:56): I’ll just give a few practical examples, or reframes that I’ve been thinking through. And so, when I think about, in the familial and family contexts – summertime, vacation time, I’ve been thinking about how we might begin to even evolve, how we speak about vacations, and rest, and spending time with each other. I am familiar with vacations being framed up as something that we have needed to earn. And so ,,fam, we’re going to go on vacation because you do well this year in school. We’re going to take a vacation because we have worked hard. We’re going to take a vacation because we did this. There was some requisite, there was something that was required that we did to deserve this. Valid. There’s some validity there. And, I just wonder, I just wonder y’all what it will look like if we reframe that just a bit? We reframed it to a place where we’re spending quality time with each other. We’re resting, we’re going on vacation because that is what we, that is what you inherently deserve. We’re going to be in community with each other, whatever that looks like. Take the summer vacation. We’re going to create spaces with joy, community love, and rest because we are inherently worthy of it. Not because we had to do something, but y’all we going on this trip because we are worthy, that’s just it. No prerequisites. We just worthy.

(16:13): I’ve been thinking about in the workplace context, when folks are sick, and they show up, and they push through. They show up, not feeling they best, and they push through. And how often that is affirmed and applauded. Thank you for showing up and pushing through. I know it was hard. Imagine a reframe where, when folks prioritize their well-being, when folks actually use their sick time? Actually called out when they were ill, we express gratitude for that. So it’s, I’m not just thankful for you showing up and pushing through. When you decide to sit this one out, thank you for caring for yourself. Thank you for prioritizing your well-being. Imagine that. I just wonder what shifts might be possible.

(17:22): I think about if the next time someone told us no, set a boundary y’all. Maybe that boundary is, you know, I’m not going to be responding to emails during this time; or I’m not going to have my Zoom video on for this meeting; or please don’t speak and or behave in this way around my child. I just wonder if we, or our posture of being was one of gratitude? Hmm. Wow. Was one of gratitude when folks set boundaries, versus an affront to us? I just wonder how might these incremental shifts change the game in community with each other?

(18:20): These systems, these systems are here, ever present. Part of being critically conscious is being aware of systemic cultural norm at play. And, I’m here for re-imagining community, co-creating our own subcultures and community with those we love, in community with other black folks y’all. I think that’s the beauty of liberation. When justice can feel out of reach, there’s something about knowing that liberation in and of itself, being able to co-create a reality beyond the norms of our society, expectations of our society, ills of our society so in reach. So in reach.

(19:23): I want to leave y’all with a few Liberated Love Notes that relate to this conversation on boundaries, rest, and all the things. Just want to lift these up as you head into the week. These two are actually my favorite. If you haven’t scooped your Liberated Love Notes yet, you absolutely need to run over to BrittanyJanae.com and grab them. Should add them to your daily toolkit.

(19:54): This one here reads, “My power is infinite. My energy is not. I deserve rest. I am old rest. I do not need to earn rest. My power is infinite. My energy is not. I deserve rest. I am old rest. I do not need to earn rest.”

(20:27): One more for y’all. Perhaps one of my favorites. “Some days I may choose to work twice as hard. Other days, they’re gonna get what they gonna to get. Always, my best effort is enough. My best effort is enough. I am enough. My best effort is enough. I am enough.”

(21:10): Peace y’all.

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