Sacred Space: Eliminating Toxicity as Self-Care
The most neglected and ignored aspect of our self-care practices is preserving our space, keeping it sacred and eliminating toxicity. When you think of self-care, candles, yoga, and quiet time, these might be a few of the things that come to mind. While there is nothing wrong with practicing self-care through mindful actions and establishing serenity in your home, the previously-mentioned provides a vivid example of how narrow-minded we have become when we consider what it means to practice self-care. I would like to challenge you to step outside of this understanding and dig deeper into the relationship between practicing self-care and protecting your space by completely eliminating toxic aspects of your life.
I did not understand the concept of preserving my space until my senior year of high school. Inundated with assignments, college applications, and academic responsibilities, I relied on my support system to keep me grounded - especially in the face of adversity and obstacles. Moreover, I hadn’t learned how to effectively sift out negative energy that hindered me from focusing on the tasks I had at hand. For me, toxicity came in the form of “friends”, who pretended to root for me, yet silently seethed at my success. Friends who didn’t know how to be present for me and themselves simultaneously. Friends who took more away from me than they did to replenish me.
Don’t be mistaken; toxicity in your space, whether emotional or physical, can exist in many forms, including familial relationships, work environment, romantic partnerships, and platonic friendships. The common ground between all of these avenues are the solutions that can be implemented, and the overarching theme is choosing yourself first. It is possible that we keep these toxic sources in our lives for multiple reasons, including sparing feelings, complacency, comfortability. However, none of those reasons point back to preserving our own health and wellness.
Here are a few ways that we can better preserve our spaces and eliminate what doesn’t mean us well:
1. Develop increased self-awareness.
Who are you? What do you require? What can’t you tolerate? Where do you draw the line and choose yourself for the sake of your health/wellness? These questions will not only aid in self-discovery but will also in discern who and what to allow into your life.
2. Define your expectations and limitations early.
We sometimes shy away from outlining our needs, but when it comes to self-preservation, it matters all the more. Your standards and expectations are valid; don’t compromise those beliefs.
3. Be firm in exercising your right to a sacred space.
The hardest part in creating a sacred space is actualizing it, especially when loved ones are involved. However, it is important to remain steadfast in being able to identify when: a situation is no longer healthy; your happiness is jeopardized; and change in the forward direction does not seem likely. Allowing toxicity to linger not only hinders you but also can disable you in the long term. You can’t be promoted to the next level of your life while toxic energy drags you downwards.
4. Find an accountability partner.
I have embarked on this journey with some of my best friends and my mom, and it makes the process a lot easier to endure. Having someone in your corner to encourage, motivate, and nudge you when necessary can be transformative when renovating your personal space.
Transforming your space and eliminating the toxicity that threatens its sacredness is a strenuous, yet rewarding, journey. As you continue to explore the facets of your health and wellness, it is my sincere hope that these ideas help you to reconsider self-care as a priority and not an option.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Najya Williams is an undergraduate at Harvard College in Cambridge, MA. She aims to pursue a career in Pediatric and Neonatal Medicine. A youth advocate and social activist, Najya has committed to participating in numerous poetry and spoken word driven events to shed light on issues present in her community that many consider taboo. She was recently recognized by The Harvard Foundation and The Black Men’s Forum for the work she has cultivated and continues to maintain within the Black community on Harvard’s campus. On the heels of her debut poetry chapbook, Cotton, Najya looks ahead to continue making a difference in not only her community but the nation as a whole, one word at a time.