The path forward
If you’re reading this, you’ve made it to the final installment of the Crushing Constraints series. We explored a bit of the psychology that affects us as individuals, creating constraints for our potential in part I. Part II centered around the external elements that perpetuate the difficulties experienced by marginalized, underrepresented groups. With the weight of both internal and external barriers to our success and happiness, we must first begin with empathy and grace.
“Grace happens to give us some space, acceptance, and room to take a hard swallow or step back…and practice self-compassion.” — Dianne Bondy
Empathy for yourself. What a concept. We’re empathy experts, but it’s harder than it seems. Grace is the permission to feel feelings and be okay with experiencing those emotions. Each external factor is beyond our immediate control. We can’t eliminate all forms of microaggressions or single-handedly change work cultures. We can focus on our immediate circles of influence. Dyads, small groups, and communities we participate in. Through intimate connections, we can begin to create momentum for our goals, whether you finally want to work on your book idea or you want to lead the cause for change within the design community. But first, you must start with yourself.
1. Self Awareness
Reframing is a method used to reset our own internal narratives. I’m into the personality tests like Enneagram & 16 Personalities. You can also check out the DISC assessment & Positive Intelligence assessments. Take what’s helpful, explore what you’ve learned, and leave the rest. It can be a good tool to level set and understand where your self-awareness stands.
Energy mapping is a solid tool if you’re looking to pinpoint where certain feelings are emerging. I had a difficult time articulating why I was so unhappy in my career. Wish I had known about this years ago!
Work with a coach
Another option is to work with a coach. I made the investment for the first half of this year, and I’m more than pleased with the decision. My awareness and relationship with myself have drastically improved. I can map behaviors back to childhood and have clarity around how I respond to certain events and why.
A coach will work with you to establish goals, provide a safe space, and hold you accountable. My coach says I have the answers and she’s here to help me along the way. If you’re not up for the investment, you could work with a mentor just the same.
2. Build Resilience
Rewrite your limiting beliefs
Actually, write them out! If writing isn’t your thing, find another cathartic way to confront those deep-rooted thoughts, then find a way to express them in a positive capacity. If you chose to journal, do that. Write on your bathroom mirror. Make a desktop wallpaper with your new beliefs. Whatever it takes!
Set those goals
Set those small goals and build on them. Be flexible if needed and allow yourself the space to celebrate the wins, no matter how big or small. With each celebration comes the bravery to take a bigger step towards something you want.
My version of self-care is reading, nourishing my mind. It might be paying for a special workshop or taking a personal day. It could be taking a personal day to lay across my chaise and read. Whatever your thing is, carve out the time for it. When you build your resilience, it makes it easier to contribute to the communities you’re connected to.
Groups like Black UX Labs, Ladies that UX, Design Buddies, Rethink, Badassery, are paramount to bolster our sense of belonging and community. I’ve taken on a passion project around supporting people of color in tech through mentorship & community, something designers said they were lacking. I’m not suggesting you go out and do something that large. But participating in a community is important. Your voice matters.
“Shara you committed to doing ________.”
“Shara, it sounds like you’re sabotaging ________.”
“You’re being negative, Shara!”
I have several trusted individuals who help hold me accountable. Having people to hold your feet to the fire gives you the opportunity to course-correct or recognize old behaviors, and celebrate wins with you. The benefits are two-fold for you and your accountability partner.
If you have a mentor you’re probably having similar check-ins. This is a practice you can take on with a peer. What matters most is doing this with someone you trust. Discuss what you learned about yourself that week. Identify your top three emotions for a particular week. Ask how you can show up for one another.
“Every time you get scared, take a step forward.”
- Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours
- No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work
- Leadership on the Line, With a New Preface: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change
- Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being
- The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead