I am pleased to start writing for digame247.com, a new project started by the fine gente at Mercury Mambo. Below is the copied text of the article I wrote for them. You can find it here:
Vale la talking, vale you.
How do you know that you matter? As part of the Latino culture, the automatic answer is usually by our family. One strength in the Latino culture lies in the nonverbal category of connection. We are great hosts, feel welcomed when visiting, and embrace meals together. In my family, my mom has a stash in her kitchen of beans, tortillas, and chile that magically appear when guests arrive. Over food we laugh, talk, and reminisce together. Our culture seems to have less experience with the verbal category. For a myriad of reasons, which we will continue to discuss, we do not have the same verbal experience with communicating about our individual needs and desires. Making a request can feel selfish and shame inducing. Declining others’ requests can feel mean and guilt inducing, which leads to frustration or resentment. Having individuality is unfamiliar terrain and can cause a lack of connection with our family and community.
However, we are part of the American culture where individuality reigns. The fallout of not embracing individuality is in less participation as leaders in decision making. For example, we see gentrification of neighborhoods, feel the loss and then feel anger. Instead of taking action by participating, we sit back and stew. Ultimately it leads to having no voice and no role in change. How do you know that you matter to yourself? To ask the question and take time to think about it is a start. Then, you can allow space and attention just for you in a safe space of nonjudgment. Therapy is such a safe space to identify these concerns, explore the dissonance in culture, and find change. You can expect acceptance, challenge and support on a multicultural level from a trained professional.
Now, most responses I get related to therapy is, “I don’t need that!” In the Latino culture, therapy is of the unknown and not belonging to us. As an unknown we feel fear and engage in avoidance. However, getting to know the unknown is a form of mastery and ultimately, a form of mattering.I write here to introduce a new paradigm of acceptance in the Latino culture. We will focus on our strength of connection by allowing me to host you as my guest. While you are here, there will be discourse, laughter, asking questions, and uncovering dynamics that get in the way of a fulfilling life. When you leave, you will take the experience of mattering and ability to change.
Vale la cultura. Vale you.