Save Yourself, Then Save the World: Radical Self Love in a Time of The 24 Hour News Cycle

By Courtney Cobbs. Photography by Eric Michael Ward.

Originally I moved to Chicago due to a desire to become involved in the activist community fighting for social justice. I attended a few protests, planning meetings, and other activities commonly attended by activists and ultimately decided that life wasn’t for me. I eventually found a connection to the community through my Reiki work. So many of the activists who were coming to me complained of being burned out and feeling “drained.” I often give thanks I didn’t go too far down that road.

Over the summer I became aware of the phrase “Reclaiming my time” as made famous by Representative Maxine Waters. I didn’t look up the video folks have referenced when talking about the phrase. I simply reflected on my summer so far. Hmph. I had been “reclaiming” my time all along. All summer when it came to my time outside of my full-time job, if it wasn’t a “hell yes” then you wouldn’t find me doing it. I spent most of my weekends at the lakefront in Chicago, either biking or lying on the beach. If I wasn’t at the beach I was probably inside bonding with my cat and my houseplants, journaling, dancing, singing, or listening to inspirational content on YouTube. I was even able to reclaim some of my time at work by eating my lunch outside or taking my work home with me so I wouldn’t be subjected to freezing AC and a windowless office. I made a very deliberate decision to feel as good as I could in every moment.

Earlier this year I made a Facebook Live video sharing with my Facebook friends that I was tired of all the political conversation and all the talk about Black oppression and pain. I stopped following politics and the news once I finally admitted to myself it’s all a big game and a distraction. I informed my friends that if the discussion turned to politics, Black oppression, a hatred of White people, etc. that I would leave the space. I once remember seeing the clock turn to 11:11 as I was a room full of people discussing something I didn’t want to be a part of and making the conscious decision to leave. I felt so great and empowered once I got outside!
“Wow! It feels so good to know I don’t have to be a part of that low vibe conversation anymore.”

I jumped at the pitch to write about Radical Self Love during a time of “political unrest”. In my social sphere I am known as the Self-Care queen and often get pegged as the person to consult with if you need more self-care in your life.

Here are a few tips on how you can stay well when it seems like the world is on fire:

1. Know that you create your own reality
Anything you give you your attention to gives energy to it. I figured my time was better spent taking care of myself or working to make a difference in my community in ways that feel authentic to me vs being tuned into the latest tragedy porn. I also don’t walk around feeling like a victim because I am tapped into my Divine Power to create my life. The world is a mirror, always reflecting back our thoughts, feelings, and attitude. Ever notice how the days you’re focused on seeing the negative more negative things keep happening? Practice creating your day in advance and watch how things shift in your life.

2. Realize the purpose of the news
The news oftentimes is scripted and staged to cause mental exhaustion, confusion, fatigue, and fear. Truths are twisted, half-truths are paraded, and deception is underhand. There’s a reason after some “tragedy” comes on the news you often see a bunch of warnings on your Facebook timeline to “log out” and take care of yourself. Save yourself the anxiety and limit your news time as much as possible. I’ve personally stopped watching it and curated my newsfeed to not even show me anything from mainstream news outlets.

3. Reclaim your time   
With all the time you’ve gained by not scrolling your social media feed or watching the news it frees you up to do things that actually feed your life force energy. Perhaps you can learn a new language, read, meditate, take a relaxing bath, hang out with a friend whose energy you love being around, masturbate, dance, etc. I truly believe every second you’re experiencing joy adds more to this world than when you’re experiencing fear, powerlessness, or despair. I tell my clients often that the energy in which you do things matters. If you are going to that protest or planning meeting out of a sense of duty/obligation then it’s not serving you or the planet. If you know in your heart of hearts you’d rather be doing something else, especially something that makes you happy: DO THAT!

4. Create Alternatives   
Some people feel protest and signing petitions is the way to better society. Some people don’t. If you fall on the “don’t” side please, please, PLEASE create that alternative activity/event/narrative. Don’t do it from a place of opposition but of being true to yourself and what truly lights you up.
I once came across an Instagram post with the phrase, “Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be a part of.” Let this lead you to create spaces and connections that feel nurturing and life-giving.

5. Love on Your Body
Our bodies are the vessels that house our minds and our spirits. Oftentimes as we take care of our bodies our mental health improves by way of the mind-body connection. Find ways to bring body pleasure, body movement, and body rest into more aspects of your physical wellness routine. Honor your body by really listening to it. Notice how your body responds to certain foods, activities, environments, people, narratives, and beliefs and adjust accordingly.

Courtney Cobbs is a Reiki Master Teacher who lives in Chicago. She loves contributing to Black Girl in Om to connect with other women of color who are interested in holistic self-care/self love practices. You can connect with Courtney on her Instagram: purplefemme11 and her blog: Violet Heart Wellness