Embracing Your Inner Power

istock dollar inner childSometimes you just have one of those days where it seems like the sun isn’t shining on you. In that darkness it’s easy to beat yourself up over the past and become anxious and negative about the future.

I’ve been there. It used to happen to me a lot actually and sometimes it still does. In the past, I dealt with those days the only ways I knew how which were becoming cling, needy, depressed and anxious. All maladaptive coping mechanisms I had picked up sometime during my life.

In return, I found myself trying to control other people and situations. Wanting people to do what I wanted them to do, think what I wanted them to think and feel the way I wanted them to feel. This rarely worked out in my favor. Usually the people I was trying to control either pulled away or responded negatively which in the end only made me feel worse.

Even when I did get what I thought I wanted, I usually still felt empty and overtime I realize the reason I still felt empty was because the real issue was within me and I couldn’t fix that with people or things.

I realized overtime and from doing therapy clients who suffering from anxiety, depression, and anger issues, that people and things do not stop our pain or move us to a better place. Only we can do that for ourselves.

We are the only ones who have the inner-power to end our suffering and angst. Sure sometimes we need the help of our support systems and/or our spiritual beliefs, but all change truly begins within us. That is when we truly heal and move beyond that pain and darkness.

Once we dig into and heal ourselves, peace, love and trust will return to use easier and quicker than we thought. Trust me. I’ve been there time and time again and it never fails. Our past neurotic attempt to bring back balance and peace to our universe happens much more naturally when it comes from within.

We have to deal with our feelings and accept them as ours. We have to stop our need to control. Peace, love and happiness will return. Remember, a bad day is just a bad day and we don’t have to make it last any longer than absolutely necessary.

I’m not saying it’s easy to stop the pain and anxiety when it comes rushing in. Sometimes even for myself today it takes a moment for me to recognize it, stop from going to my default maladaptive coping mechanisms, and reach inside my own inner-power, but I am better at it today than I was yesterday and will be better at it tomorrow than I am today. That’s all I ask of myself and all I ask of you.

We are much more powerful than we believe we are! We can control not only our thoughts and feeling, but our destinies! We have to learn to harness and embrace our inner power.

It doesn’t matter if you have anger issues, depression, low-self-esteem, whatever it is. The faster you realize you have all the control and no need to try to control other people or situations, the faster you will have the strength to overcome any obstacle that’s in your way, even if that obstacle is yourself.


10 Black Psychologists Who Greatly Impacted The Field: Francis Cecil Sumner

downloadFrancis Cecil Sumner (1895-1954) is better known for being the first African American to ever earn a Ph. D in psychology. What is not so widely known is that he was also the first African American to have earned a doctorate from any American University.

Francis Cecil Sumner was a pioneer for future Black psychologists. He started the psychology program at Howard University and went on to teach other prominent future Black psychologists such as Kenneth Clark. He was also a pivotal leader in education reform and completed vast amounts of research that counteracted racism and bias in psychological studies of African Americans.

Unfortunately, Francis Cecil Sumner died before seeing the end of segregation, something he fought hard for.

Like many Black psychologists, Francis Cecil also did a lot of research in the areas of discrimination and social injustice, but I believe his greatest contribution to the field was becoming the first African American psychologist and paving the way for myself and those before and after me.

His other contributions include:

  • 1916 As a graduate student at Lincoln University he taught psychology of religion, mysticism, rationalism, experimental psychology, social psychology and intermediate and advanced German.
  • 1920-1921 Took his first teaching position at Wilber force University in Ohio.
  • 1921 (summer) Taught at Southern University in Louisiana.
  • 1921 (fall) Accepted an appointment as instructor of psychology and philosophy in the college department at West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State College).
  • 1928 Resigned from West Virginia after becoming restless and assumed the acting chairmanship of the department of psychology at Howard University where he remained until his death in 1954.
  • 1931 Had the opportunity to attend the First International Congress for Religious Psychology held at the University of Vienna. There he presented a paper entitled, “Mental Hygiene and Religion” and met many leaders among European psychologists of religion.
  • Served as an official abstractor for both the Journal of Social Psychology and the Psychological Bulletin, where he translated more than three thousand articles from German, French, and Spanish.

10 Black Psychologists Who Greatly Impacted The Field: Kenneth And Mamie Clark

10 Black Psychologists Who Greatly Impacted The Field: Kenneth And Mamie Clark

In honor of Black History Month, I thought I’d do a 9 part post highlighting 10 Black psychologists I think everyone should know about.

The reason I chose to write about this is partly because as a behavior scientist, I have learned about all the greats in psychology from Adler to Zimbardo, but none of them were Black. Even in my undergraduate years I had no Black psychology professors, but was fortunate enough to have two in my graduate studies.

Because of this, often times when I think of psychology it’s easy to believe that Black people had little to no impact on the field, but that simply isn’t true.

Another reason I feel that this post is important is to show potential future behavior scientists that they not only have a place in the field of psychology/mental health, but that they can be future leaders in field.

#1 and # 2: Kenneth and Mamie Clark

Kenneth Clark, born on July 25, 1914 was a psychologist and educator. He was the first Black president of the American Psychological Association and was the first African-American to become a fully tenured professor at the City College of New York.

His wife, Mamie Phipps Clark did research with children that showed African American children became aware of their racial identity at about three years old and many of them began to see reflect and internalize the views that society held about them. She also found that many African American children that had been labeled as having a learning disability or disabled were actually not, but were the victims of  biased psychological testing.

The Clarks were the first African-Americans to obtain their doctoral degrees in psychology from Columbia University

In 1946 the couple founded the Northside Center for Child Development to work with inner-city children.

In 1950 the couple published a report unmasking the psychological effects of racial segregation in schools.

In their famous Clark “Doll Study”, they studied the responses of more than 200 Black children who were given a choice of white or brown dolls. The findings illustrated that children showed preference for white dolls from as early as three years old, considering the white dolls as “good” and the black dolls as “bad”. The report and study were cited heavily in the 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education to help outlaw segregation nationwide. The Clarks both served as expert witnesses several school desegregation in the case.

The couple also helped found Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Kenneth Clark was named the first Black member of the New York State Board of Regents (1966), and published many books and articles on the condition of African-Americans such as Prejudice and Your Child, A Possible Reality, and Pathos of Power.

Mr. Clark passed away on May 1, 2005. Mrs. Clark in 1983.

Mr. and Mrs. Clark “Doll Study” is one of my favorite studies and one I have used before to highlight many different issues surrounding race, colorism, and self-esteem. Without the work of both Kenneth and Mamie Clark we could possibly still have segregated schools.