E&M‘s Robin White let’s us in on her struggle with expressing emotions, opinions and rage. She advocates for safe spaces to do so, because being labelled as ‘overly’-something is hurtful. She demands safe spaces so that as a Black woman she can voice her “strong” opinions or be passionate about certain matters in the same way non-marginalised people can. What has helped her? Self-validation. What she wants? Allies.
People hardly ever describe me without using a “too” in addition. Too honest. Too loud. Too emotional. Too radical. Too angry. Too complicated – you name it. So many feelings, opinions or ideas I’ve had were dismissed, solely because others didn’t like the tone I was conveying them in. They never connected the tone with the portrayed emotion and saw the urgency or the deepness of the matter.
Why else is it that so many of us feel disconnected from their true selves and how can we expect real change in this world for any cause or matter, if we can’t even just BE.
This is an issue I assume all of the marginalized groups can relate to – people remember your tone, not your words, and they judge or dismiss you based on that, rather than support, validate or hold a safe space for you to express yourself. One emotion that has always played a particular role for me was rage. Other people might have the experience with a different emotion, e.g. shame, fear, sadness, etc. Occasionally I would get called »rage Robin« – all in good fun of course, people said. But there’s nothing fun about having a negative attribute attached to literally everything you say, just because you have strong opinions or are passionate about certain matters and you voice them – especially as a Black woman. I used to laugh along whilst actually feeling hurt and furious. But if I had been outspoken about this as well, it would have only reinforced the justification of such a nickname. And so I felt trapped in a cycle that didn’t seem to offer a healthy and safe outlet for my emotions. I had to learn to work my way out of it and I did so by transforming them and creating a safer space for myself.
Befriend your rage
Today I can proudly say that my rage is sacred to me. It is immediately connected to my creativity and it also reminds me of how capable I am of loving deeply. If you’ve ever loved anything or anyone deeply in your life, no matter who or what, how can you not be enraged by the state of the world we live in? How can you not be absolutely furious about the lack of compassion we seem to have for one another? And on top of that you are being told to “tone it down” in order to be taken seriously? Tone it down for others to feel comfortable in your presence? Why else is it that so many of us feel disconnected from their true selves and how can we expect real change in this world for any cause or matter, if we can’t even just BE. How should we form opinions if we are not even able to feel what needs to be felt and to come together and connect and hold safe spaces for each other in times of crisis but also just in general? Constantly we are repressing ourselves or being repressed and even gaslighted by (surprise) patriarchy and capitalism, that we are actually happy and ok with it. That every emotional outburst is far from normal, where as staying calm and indifferent and going about your life in a „happy” manner, in a society oozing with scarcity, injustice and apathy, is perfectly fine. Because at least there is consumerism right, so let’s just pop a Xanax against all the feels, buy a new PS5 or a pair of shoes, go for ice cream and forget about the shitty state of the world we live in.
Really, really befriend your rage
The best work we can do for this world is to work on ourselves. And I don’t mean the quarantine self-optimisation craze. I’m talking about the dirty work, the hard work, getting down to the nitty gritty and breaking behavioural patterns and generational curses. I’m talking about harnessing all the dark matter and intense emotions constructively. Working with them, growing, healing ourselves and others, to heal as a collective. And since good things don’t come easy, this step has to be a conscious committed decision. A step you have to commit to take day after day, time and time again, basically for the rest of your life. You have to look at your healing as an offer to the next generations.
Turning my rage into determination has literally kept me sane when I was on the brink of tipping over the edge. Determination to never foster hopelessness.
Turning my rage into determination has literally kept me sane when I was on the brink of tipping over the edge. Determination to never foster hopelessness. Determination to see brighter days, no matter how long it would take. Determination to push through and overcome even the hardest obstacles. Determination to never let my deep love for life turn bitter.
Creating safe spaces for one another
As an outspoken and straight forward person – and especially if you consider yourself a womxn, are a (b)poc or belong to any other marginalized group (and for those who consider themselves allies) – it is crucial to create these spaces and to fully and shamelessly express ourselves, come together and connect on a deeper level and not be further gaslighted and victimised. This will still take years to unlearn because it’s installed so deeply and we are enmeshed in a society that drives on and profits of said victimisation. But there is an antidote called self-validation. If we practice this type of mindfulness, we can use it as a means of creating a new narrative – a task that takes a lot of courage. Courage to keep going and to stay resilient and aware. Courage to do the right thing, not the popular thing, and to feel all your emotions without guilt or attachment. And most of all courage to learn, unlearn and relearn more wholesome patterns.
We need to accept our own internal experiences, thoughts and feelings, instead of fighting them or judging ourselves for having them.
Self-validation is a critical step for living with intense emotions. And let’s be honest, who is not going through intense emotions in 2020? If your emotions and thoughts are accepted and understood by others and yourself, it can be a powerful tool. Self-validation can look like being present and not disassociating from your feelings. Also reflecting on what triggered the emotion and where you store it in your body while looking at the actions you want to do and where you feel bodily sensations, can help immensely to reconnect to yourself. This helps you to normalise your emotions (even if you don’t like them) and check if what you feel is what most people would experience. We need to accept our own internal experiences, thoughts and feelings, instead of fighting them or judging ourselves for having them. That’s why it is so crucial for us to come together and develop awareness for one another. And lastly the hardest but most healing part: don’t reject who you are and stay true to yourself.