Written by: Dr. La-Toya S. Gaines, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Black women are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They are tired of being self-sufficient. They want some of the “soft life” everyone is talking about. However, it’s necessary to change the perception of Black women as invincible, stoic, and unbothered. Like others, Black women are strong, resilient, and independent, but not always.
The Strong Black Woman stereotype is a narrow and unrealistic box that Black women have been placed in. This stereotype promotes perfectionism and results in feelings of shame when it’s not achieved.
However, when Black women can be vulnerable and share feelings of unworthiness, fears, and needs, they can connect with others, creating increased understanding and community.
Here are seven ways to practice being vulnerable in your everyday life:
1. Embrace your imperfections
Being vulnerable often involves being open about and embracing your imperfections. Give yourself permission to be authentic and genuine, even if it means showing vulnerability.
2. Practice self-compassion
Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same empathy and understanding you would offer to a close friend. Would you place unrealistic expectations on a friend? Then why place those unrealistic expectations on yourself?
3. Challenge society’s expectations
Societal norms often expect Black women to always be strong, independent, and resilient. Challenge these expectations and give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Recognize that vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness.
4. Engage in self-reflection
Reflect on your emotions, experiences, and needs. Self-awareness is necessary for understanding and acknowledging your vulnerabilities.
5. Create opportunities for self-expression
Explore different forms of self-expression to help channel your emotions and vulnerabilities. This could include writing, painting, dancing, or any creative outlet that allows you to express yourself authentically.
6. Create safe spaces:
Surround yourself with people who create an emotionally safe and supportive environment where you can freely express your thoughts and emotions without fear or judgment. This can include friends, family, or support groups.
7. Practice resilience
Embracing vulnerability doesn't mean giving up on resilience. You can cultivate resilience by developing coping strategies, practicing self-care, and seeking support during challenging times. Resilience and vulnerability can coexist, empowering you to navigate life's ups and downs with strength and openness.
Black women are complex and multifaceted. They deserve the space to show up fully human, and this includes being vulnerable. Vulnerability is a personal journey, and it's important to approach it at your own pace and comfort level. Developing a sense of vulnerability takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself throughout the process. There is no right or wrong way to be vulnerable. Find what works best for you and create authentic, open, and supported spaces.
Interested in learning more about dismantling the Strong Black Woman stereotype? You can purchase a replay of my webinar, Silent No More: An Empowering Guide to Owning and Changing the Strong Black Woman Narrative, here. Join my email list for monthly newsletters and information on upcoming webinars, workshops, and retreats for the Strong Black Woman.
Dr. La-Toya S. Gaines, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. La-Toya S. Gaines is a licensed psychologist and owner of Family Matters Counseling and Psychological Services. Dr. Gaines has a dedicated her career to empowering Black women to disrupt the narrative of the Strong Black Woman. She is teaching generations of Black women to give themselves permission to prioritize their needs without feeling guilty. Dr. Gaines is using her voice to reduce the stigma of mental health in the Black community.