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Why You Need to Love Yourself

By Jihad Hassan Muhammad -Contributing Editor- | Last updated: Jul 25, 2017 - 12:32:19 PM

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The word love cannot describe the conditions in which Black men, women, and children have lived in America. Arriving by way of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, hate has been the more prevalent experience for Blacks. Experts suggest that the process of slavery itself presents consequence on how Black people love themselves, and are treated by others in America nearly five centuries since being kidnapped and brought to the shores of the Western Hemisphere.

The question can be asked, can love of self be attained in an environment that procures stress, depression, and overall mental strain to a people mistreated by their oppressors, others, and themselves? Experts say, yes it can, and offer paths to achieving such.

Mental health in the Black community looms toward despair, note some analysts. This despair is the chief opponent to self-love and happiness. Quite often Blacks’ mental health mirrors their dismal wide-ranging health which is unfavorable when compared to Whites and others in the U.S.

Blacks are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, says Sékou Fraser, of Sage Therapy Group PLLC in Dallas, TX. Mr. Fraser is a licensed professional counselor, in addition to having his Master of Arts degree in counseling. He thinks although the Black community faces a great challenge with mental health, having knowledge of self is the beginning to love of self, and happiness, henceforth solving the problems presented by mental health disorders.

“We must know who we are to start with. Who we are historically, and in our current state, then we can assess how far we need to travel to better ourselves,” said Mr. Fraser.

The most common of mental health disorders present among Blacks include: depression, suicide among young Black men, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mr. Fraser has experience in assisting people who have been diagnosed with all of these conditions, and finds himself caring for mostly youth.

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“Young people can be easily made unhappy by measuring themselves to images they receive in a social media fast-paced world. If they don’t have the cars, clothes and money they often view from entertainers, they can become easily depressed and angered,” declared Mr. Fraser. He says the anger’s next stage is a display in violence. Statistics show that Black children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children, he said.

“I have helped many young men who are violent and don’t know why. Usually we find through talking and journaling that they are disappointed with not knowing their father, and the breakdown of their family structure,” he said. Fraser cites the destruction of the Black family as a massive problem related to the community’s mental health problems. If repaired, he says, it could be one of the greatest solutions providing happiness to those who would otherwise be angered and depressed.

Dr. Ava Muhammad, attorney and student national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, says happiness, or the lack thereof, is relative to the family structure. “The family is ideally the microcosm of the society that the human being ultimately will function in,” said Dr. Muhammad.

She detailed examples of many principles and inter-personal skills garnered from the family structure that help human beings become mentally healthy early in life, which leads to happiness. “The first exposure we have as human beings to civilized society takes place in the home, giving us a concept of structure. We learn to respect authority which is manifested through the father. We are provided with nurturing and the concern for another human being which comes through the mother, along with personal interaction, competition, and overcoming jealousy through our siblings and also bonding,” she said.

Dr. Muhammad, author of many books, including the critically acclaimed, “Real Love,” “Force and Power of Being” and “Naturally Beautiful”, explained that society has devalued the family and its institution of marriage, resulting in the dismemberment of family. This occurrence is worse in the Black community where more than half of all households are without a father, causing injury to the basic family unit, she explained.

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“Behavioral scientists have shown studies that when a family is together, and merely sits down most evenings and has dinner together, incidents of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, and trouble interacting in society are dramatically reduced,” continued Dr. Muhammad. The breakdown of the family relates to a breakdown of love, of which Dr. Muhammad, also a Nation of Islam student minister, says it is difficult to love yourself when no one seems to love you.

Terrie M. Williams knows all too well the need to love self and remain happy. In 2003 Ms. Williams underwent a major bout of depression. Ms. Williams, a well-known businesswoman, with a successful public relations firm the Terrie Williams Agency, serviced clients like Miles Davis, Eddie Murphy, Prince, Chris Rock, and Janet Jackson. Recovering from her illness she halted her business, later writing her book, “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting,” which has become a wakeup call for many in the Black community.

“I think happiness sometimes takes a great deal of work. We all are shaped by the people that raised us, and a lot of times you just never know what a person’s journey has been. So, we must be careful how we observe people and how you connect with them,” Ms. Williams told The Final Call.

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She believes that many, particularly in the Black community, suffer in silence because of the stigma and pre-conceived ideas of not sharing one’s business, so to speak, when there indeed is a problem mentally.

Gwen L. Hodrick, MA, LPC, LCDC, or Coach Gwen as many throughout the Dallas- Fort Worth area call her, agrees that Blacks thwart their happiness by simply not acknowledging there is a problem, even while mental disorders are tearing their personal lives and families apart.

“We usually don’t want to feel like there’s something we can’t handle, I think, because we as a people have already struggled so much. We go undiagnosed with no help with our mental issues. The road to happiness begins with being truthful with one’s self,” declared the life coach.

Julian Muhammad, a psychology professional and student protocol director for Muhammad Mosque No. 48 in Dallas, offers another solution to help maintain happiness. “Our people don’t want to go to therapists that are not like them. They don’t want to tell strangers their problems, so we must love and befriend them. It has to be real,” said Julian Muhammad.

“We have been giving a tool introduced to us by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called Dianetics, which actually helps people deal with and clear traumas that are affecting them and their quality of life even when they don’t know it.”

Julian Muhammad also echoed the sentiment of Mr. Fraser, saying knowledge of self is a most important factor in attaining self-love and happiness. “We didn’t know who we were before being destroyed and brought over here to America. If we can be reconnected to that rich history, as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teach us, we can surely find happiness, because we know our origin, and cannot fall to things that are not a part of that origin,” Julian Muhammad said.

Mr. Fraser also imparts suggestions and practical solutions to those he assists. He does a mirror exercise, calling those who undergo the experience, to be brutally honest with themselves as they look in the mirror.

A self-awakening begins to take place that he then helps guide them through. He also says that Blacks must unite and offer more resources to improve happiness and mental health of the overall community.

“We still have to face aspects of PTSD which is still present from slavery, and now even our day-to-day lives. No matter how rich or successful we are, some of us suffer from high anxiety and PTSD from merely being pulled over by police. We need a unified effort in building our own community to help make us happy as a whole,” emphasized Mr. Fraser.

Ms. Williams thinks individuals must reach out to one another in the Black community an “each-one-speak-to-one basis” “It has to be as easy as seeing someone who you feel is going through things, or simply not having a good day, and having enough love to say, “are you alright,” she explained. “We must meet people where they are,” she added.

Coach Gwen Hodrick elaborated on how self-love can be worked on using the fight Black women have in a society that devalues them. “A lot of times we have a European view of beauty, happiness, and success and we’re not able to incorporate that effectively in our lives and our Black culture. So, we must be happy with our skin tone, hair, and all of those things. Accepting who we are as we are is a true sign of happiness,” she said.

Black women are an integral part of the family structure which, as experts cite, must be in tact to begin the root of happiness and self-love in the Black community.

Dr. Ava Muhammad intends to help to reverse the polarity of the decline of Black women with her upcoming “Naturally Beautiful You: Changing the Condition of the Black Woman” tour starting July 29 in Richmond, Va.

“Minister Farrakhan’s course of study, Self-Improvement: The Basis for Community Development, with an emphasis on Study Guide No. 19 lays the base that the secret to the Originator is in the Black woman,” she explained. Introduced in the 1980s and reintroduced recently, the study guides delve into a wide range of topics integral to the overall growth, cultivation and development of the individual which is an integral and key part of community relationships. Study Guide 19 is titled “The Knowledge of God.”

“With this tour, I want to help get us away from the cosmetic, superficial idea of beauty that the Caucasian-dominated society keeps women focused on, which is a sexist society that reduces her value,” said Dr. Muhammad. The tour also aims to assist women in finding their true self love and happiness with a knowledge of God, and self which is one and the same, she explained.

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