Managing Your Own Baggage

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with some individuals on how to address stress and unhealthy relationships. What I came to realize is that many do not understand that no one is exempt from stress or ever experiencing an unhealthy relationship. These are just two of many scenarios that we can face in our lives.  In presenting this information to my clients, I gave the illustration of a person with baggage.  We all have baggage.  Yours may be a purse, a clutch, a duffel bag, a suitcase or even a paper or plastic bag.  Whatever form it comes in, realize that it is still a method of holding things such as groceries, personal care items, clothing, emotions, stress, or frustrations. You name it, it has a bag.

On this journey called life, we have the obligation to evaluate relationships, situations and circumstances that we face.  In doing so, keep in mind that there may times when our experiences also involve someone else’s experiences which has the potential to create added stress. 

Here are 7 things to keep in mind when managing baggage:

1)       Know what is in your bag.

It is very important that you know what it is in your bag, what you carry, what you give out of your bag and what you replace it with. Be mindful of what you are dealing with and take with you daily. This requires a level of self-awareness that is necessary to manage one’s self accordingly and diligently. 

2)      Clean out your bag periodically.

There are times that I will actually begin to throw out some things that are either trash, expired, or just no longer needed for my daily routine.  I follow the same steps for my mind and my spirit. I reflect on what God wants me to keep, what is no longer needed, expired (meaning, it no longer has a place of value in my life) and/or just not needed at that point in time.  I love cleaning out my bag (and my mind) for it makes the journey so much lighter.  The time it takes to do this, is something that we do not like, but once the task is completed, we are better off than when we started.   

3)      Keep your bag organized.

Be aware of what is in your bag at any given time.  If you are anything like me, you may carry the same bag with you for weeks at a time not really knowing what is in the bag.  Every now and then, I go through my bags and organize them in a way so that I know what is in each area of the bag. This is the same for my emotional well-being.  Often, I take time to organize my thoughts, my feelings, and my emotions in order to check myself. This allows me be confirm that my mind is organized, clear and focused.  This helps me to be the best ME.  This will also help you to be the best YOU!

4)      Don’t carry anyone else’s baggage.

Unless someone has a physical or emotional limitation, there is no reason for you to even consider carrying someone else’s baggage.  I am talking about baggage that has the potential to slow you down, strain a muscle or even blow up causing great harm.  As humans, it is in our nature to jump in help, however, consider your next steps before taking on more than you should.  Especially, when you are in a place of learning to manage your own bags and that person could benefit from learning to carry and manage their own baggage as well.

5)      Keep your bags to a minimum.

Learn to pack light for the journey.  When traveling, have you ever packed as if you were going on a two-week vacation when you would only be gone for three days?  I definitely have been in this situation.  We do this when tackling multiple situations especially within our relationships.  We may overthink a situation or try to manage too much in effort to address the situation. We pack more than we should, realizing that it creates more confusion because we could not decide what to use for trip or our situations.  By keeping your bags to a minimum, you increase your chances and your ability to maneuver better. When you have less to carry, you can get the job done more efficiently. 

6)      Know when to throw some bags away. 

Let’s just get straight to the nitty gritty on this one.  Have you ever been carrying bags back and forth to work because you think you need what is in there?  This is the case for many professionals.  What I have found is that when you finally go through the bag, you realize that you no longer need what is in there and that the bag is so worn that it has no purpose moving forward.  It is imperative that you begin to look at what you carry with you daily.  My mantra is Pause. Reflect. Revive.  Take the moment, to pause and reflect on what it is you take with you emotionally daily.  Reflect on its value, evaluate if it is helpful or harmful. If it is the latter, trash it.  Get rid of it.  Remove it from your life so that you can experience a more Revived Life. Got it? Good.

7)      Don’t go back to being the Bag-Person!

Once you do all of this, walk in your freedom. Be a 1-2 bag minimum person. Walk and move in a manner where you can manage your emotions, tasks, and relationships, more effectively. Take time to process what you need without feeling like you are responsible for others baggage.

I encourage my clients daily to manage themselves accordingly by prioritizing them.  When solving your problems, the main person needed for the task is YOU.  Prioritize you no matter what, even when it may appear selfish. Taking care of you, is a form of self-care and mental health.  Let determination be a factor as you establish emotional wellness at a greater level.  Pack light for one!



Finding Your Niche!!!

 Photo by RML

Photo by RML

Finding your niche is something that can take time! For seven years, I prepared for the population I wanted to serve while walking proudly in another niche.  Yes, what I am saying is that you CAN have more than one niche and it can actually change over time depending on the needs of the community or your skill set and passion.  

Often, clinicians and other professionals will inquire about how does one identify or develop a niche. I am glad that people are asking this very important question. One, because it is important not have too many areas that you supposedly "specialize in."  It will cause a client and other professionals to question if you actually have a specialty area. The other reason is because with the increase in mental health concerns, the community is in dire need of clinical professionals who specialize in areas that speak to their areas of concern.  Whatever the presenting issues, persons seeking support want to connect with someone they believe possess the skill set and training that can help them address those needs.

So, when develop your niche area, consider taking the following steps to help you on your journey...

Determine your mission and your end goal. 

Whenever I meet with my mentor, and I present a goal or idea to her, the first two questions that I am approached with is, "What is your end goal? What do you hope to accomplish?"  After the first two meetings with her, I realized that I have to be prepared to answer these questions when she asks and even when I ask myself. I also find, that these are now my questions I ask clinicians and new private practice/business owners when they present a goal or idea to me.  The moment you think of an idea, an area or a specialty, remember to keep your mission and end goal in mind.  Make sure you have a mission set in place for your vision.  What are you hoping to accomplish over the course of your venture? With any idea that comes to mind, please determine your end goal?  For example, is your goal to make money, to serve as many community members as possible, to increase awareness of a specific area, etc?  Whatever, your end goal is, that will determine how you market your service or event. But marketing and getting the word out cannot be done, if you do not know your end goal.   

Invest time in developing your niche. 

Your niche is not something that will take place over night. It is something that has to be developed with care and attention.  Time is necessary to determine if whatever your specialty of care is, that it is something you actually would like to do and something that you are prepared to do.  Please do not think of it in terms of a grocery list, believing that once you have it in the cart, you can just check it off the list.  It goes a little further than that, you not only need to place it in your cart, you need to know what you will do with it once you have it. You will need to know if requires a recipe for one or a group.  Once you know that, this will help you in planning how to obtain additional ingredients for a well planned niche. Keep in mind that a niche can also be developed by noticing how you manage other tasks and programming in your current line of work. Someone may notice that you are gifted in a particular area or you may notice that your drive increases when you are working in another area.  This is the time to pay close attention to your skill set.  For example, for 15 years, I worked with children and families. It was an area I loved and am still passionate about.  I also noticed that over the course of my career that I began to develop a passion for working and helping clinicians and professionals. For me, like I said, it took me 7 years, but that was due to me wanting to be sure that I could deliver a skill set and setting to meet their needs.  Taking your time is not a bad idea.  It will better prepare you for the course before you. 

Know the needs of the community. 

It is my hope that wherever you work or have your practice/business that you are doing something that improves the overall well-being of the community.  In order to do that, you must be aware of the needs of that community.  This can be determined by looking at statistics for mental health, federal and state regulations issued annually, and also through the media.  Knowing the trends of an issue can give you an idea of what community challenges exist. As the helping professional, you are then able to cater to the needs of the community.  Hey, who knows, you may be able to address issues on a larger scale at the state or nationwide level.  Knowing your niche and how it can benefit an overall need, can open doors for you.  

Get a mentor. 

Although, not written in this order, I recommend that the first thing you do is get a mentor, or two or three. That may have made you chuckle, but I am serious.  I actually have a total of three mentors who have provided me with different levels of support and guidance. They each serve a different purpose and have been extremely beneficial in teaching me the tools to be successful (even with a few failures and hiccups). I have grown tremendously because of their guidance.  The best part about having a mentor is that they are able to help you with the following: 

  • Bringing life to ideas
  • Challenging you to think bigger and beyond what you imagine
  • Giving you tools to accomplish goals
  • Identifying training and certification programs to improve your skill set
  • Helping you to focus on one task at a time
  • Establishing realistic goals
  • Being accountable to your mission and goals

Be consistent. 

Consistency is probably the most important thing once you identify your niche. After you have given your attention and planning, in order to be effective, it will require consistency.  This means that you may have a niche that you are known for with a couple of other areas that you are skilled at.  Make sure that you do not dabble in too many areas, that people are unable to identify you according to your niche.  Consistency helps with branding. Once your brand is developed, then feel free to touch on other areas, but make sure the community, organizations, and other professionals know you for your specialization/ niche.  

In the end, your niche is something that will stand out to others. It most likely will be how people are able to find you in order to request your service.  Remember, the niche is about identifying where the needs are and meeting your end goal. However, you cannot get there without following certain steps.  Please follow these or any other helpful steps to assist you in identifying your niche. I wish you well on your journey to greatness.  








Follow Your Own Advice

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I hope you are all doing well this wonderful Saturday. I am great, preparing to do some things that I enjoy and I hope you are doing the same.  The purpose of today’s blog was to share my heart about a topic that is not often focused on. Have you ever heard the statement, “Follow Your Own Advice?”  I hear people say it loosely when instructing others, but how often do we actually apply it. 

Like other clinicians, I am a change agent, so I assist individuals with finding their strength within, how to obtain tools to improve their quality of life and also help them to realize that they can live their whole best life.  With that being said, I realized recently that I have not been following my own advice. Well, not fully at least.  I know for a fact, that I am not alone.  There are many who give the best advice and encouragement yet find it difficult to put it into practice. 

It is one of those things that can be considered by a nay-sayer, “as easier said than done.” However, I am of the mindset that if we actually believe in what we are saying to others, then we have the obligation to ourselves to apply the same actions.  It is our responsibility to make sure that we are following our own advice.

You owe it to yourself, to serve yourself first. It is not selfish. It can be considered a form of self-care and growth within.  If you are truly committed to applying the principles shared to your own life, greater is your message to others when they can witness you in action mode.  So, today, I encourage you to live out your best life by following your own advice.  Have a great day!!!!

If you would like to hear more motivational messages, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @myselahwellness

To view my video on this blog, visit the My Selah Wellness YouTube Channel


The Power of Movement

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When we think of movement, we think of the ability to shift from one place to another.  For me, movement means the ability to progress one step, one minute, one moment, or even one task at a time. Taking a look over my life, I realize that I have never stopped moving despite the many obstacles or challenges that have come my way.  People often thought I was running from something, hey, at times I thought the same.  However, over time, I realized my movement was done to ensure that I never became complacent or stuck in a situation.

What I am talking about is not to take away from moments when one must stand still to bask in a situation or to be able to process what their next step should be. I am solely focusing on the ability to keep moving. 

To keep moving when we do not feel worthy of the next opportunity and think it is best to stop.

To keep moving when someone criticizes our actions.

To keep moving when we feel like we are the only ones interested in our next venture.

To keep moving when hope is trying to escape us.

To keep moving when others are attempting to pull all life from us.

To keep moving when it seems like you have run out of options and do not know what to do and where to turn.

To keep moving despite the fear…..keep moving until the fear dissipates.

My point is that whatever you feel, experience, encounter, and endure should never be given so much power that it stops you completely.  I am a firm believer that if God has given you a gift and skill set to touch others, let that important piece of knowledge be the push to get and keep you moving. 

It is great when we have others who can encourage us to move, but in those moments when it is just you, your thoughts, and your faith, please keep moving and believe.  Movement does not always mean that you feel your best, but it means that you are moving towards wholeness.    

I write this today as one who continues to move despite my circumstances. I hope this is encouragement to keep moving despite whatever the reason.  KNOW that on the other side of movement is VICTORY.  Have Faith and believe in the Power of Movement. 


Journey to Positive

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Today, I just wanted to check in and encouraging my readers to find the positive in life.  Throughout our lives, we embark on many changes that impact our thoughts and perceptions.  It is common that once we encounter a negative experience, that it has the power to shift our thinking into a negative state of mind causing us to see several following events with a negative lens.  Meaning that, regardless of the positive nature of a following event, one may only see it from the negative view.  It is as if a person’s vision has been blurred making it difficult to see a clear picture.   

When this happens, it is helpful to challenge ones view and perception about a matter.  The process of challenging those views, include identifying why one may have a negative perception of a situation.  The process also means that you have to find the positive, the good, and the highlight of what one is experiencing.  It is actually the power of reframing. Reframing is the ability to take a negative thought and change it into a positive one with the changing of our thoughts, our behavior and our words.  The words we speak have power. So, I encourage you to change your language, change your thoughts, and think more positively.  Challenge yourself today, you will not be disappointed. 


The Benefits of Journaling


As a teenager I can recall begging for a journal with a lock and key. This meant that I could write my deepest secrets and then lock them away so that my family could not read them.  Once I got the journal, which is exactly what I did. I wrote, and wrote and wrote some more, then locked it and hid the key.  This was my time to get my thoughts onto paper, thoughts that I did not feel I could share with anyone.  Well, over the years, I would get a new journal annually. It became so important to me that I started buying and gifting journals to friends, family members and church members with their names engraved on them with a scripture or a positive quote.  Even then, I saw it as something so personal, not realizing that journaling had the ability to meet needs in other areas of my life. 

Fast forward to the 2000’s. I still cannot walk away from a pretty and colorful journal.  Maybe, I no longer get them engraved, but journaling is still a big part of my life.   It is also a major part of the interventions I introduce in private practice.  As a clinician, I have the opportunity to meet with men and women who are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and adjustment disorder.  When I hear that they are unable to sleep at night, feel as if their thoughts are unorganized when stressed, and that they do not feel like they are able to focus during the day, I begin to assess what their coping skills look like in regards to how they manage themselves.  When I ask about journaling, I often get the response, “yeah, I have a journal but I do not use it consistently.”  This right here is where I issue the challenge to journal. 

In 2018, we have come a long way. Journaling can be done by writing, typing or audio recording. So, there are options that I present to clients when I issue the challenge to journal for one week straight.  I make no promises that this works for everyone, because it does not. However, for many it has increased their ability to function. 

Here are 4 things you should know about journaling:

  1. It can be cathartic meaning stress relieving. When you write you are releasing stress and allowing your body and mind to come to a place of relaxation and calmness.  This can also be done with crocheting, drawing or even painting.

  2. It can be considered the Data Dump of your mind by choosing to journal about your events, stress, dreams and goals.  Imagine turning over a basket filled with paper and other unwanted items into a larger can.  This is what happens when you begin journaling you are getting all of your thoughts, worries and ideas onto paper. A place that can properly hold it.  The key to this is not seeing it as garbage, but as a place holder for your thoughts in case you need to go back and review as needed. You do not have to hold it all in your head. 

  3. It can be daily, every other day, or even weekly. Whatever you choose remember to be consistent.

  4. Knowing when to journal is very important.  It can be done at any time during the day, but it is most beneficial to do it right before going to bed.   It is your late night data dump if you will, allowing you to begin your sleep journey with a clear mind waking up more refreshed.  If there are no struggles with your sleep pattern, then journaling at any time during the day would be fine for you.  However, if you find that you struggle with falling and remaining asleep due to flooding of thoughts, then journaling right before bed might be the best solution for you. 

As a result of journaling consistently, you will find that it impacts your emotional and physical well-being.   The process of journaling can improve sleeping, concentration, mood and mindset.  So, you can see that it is more than just getting your thoughts on paper (under lock and key), it is about releasing the stress and flood of thoughts that impact functioning.  Journaling can be whatever you need it to be, but know it is a super gift to a better way of addressing symptoms and stress.  I encourage you to take the challenge as well in hopes of an improved way of doing things.  Make a commitment to your health and see the benefits for yourself.  Selah.  

Disclaimer: This blog on journaling does not in any way imply that journaling replaces medication management that one may need to assist with addressing other symptoms.