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By, Bethany Cherry - Founder of Self Love For Black Girls

“A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.”

– Pearl Bailey

I’m reading “The Fifth Agreement” right now, and may I just say…I love this book! I’m definitely a self-help junkie when it comes to reading. So when my soul sista recommended this book, you know I had to get it. Local libraries are great, ya’ll! Don’t spend money you don’t have…as much as I love Barnes and Nobles and Amazon. But now, let me tell you why this book is amazing, and why you might consider adding it to your “spiritual book list.”

As apart of the New Year, I decided to become more intentional about my life more than I had ever been before. Little did I know that this decision would lead me on along a path of other decisions, all related to one another like a domino effect, that would all make up the beginning of a transformative spiritual journey. One that I’m still on, by the way! The journey is lifelong, folks. Becoming more intentional about my life has caused me to really dig down deep and ask myself the hard question, What do I believe, why do I believe it, and what is it’s meaning in my life? Does it cause me joy or suffering?

After examining many of my beliefs, I realized–and have been realizing–that many of my beliefs about myself, beliefs about my life, beliefs about who I should be (ugh, don’t even get me started on the ugliness of “should-ing” on ourselves), were for the most part causing me suffering.

The book, The Fifth Agreement is all about unlearning the bullsh*t that we have been programmed over years and years to believe. Think of it like this: We humans were born with absolutely no prior expectations, no negative beliefs about ourselves, our imperfections (we didn’t even know it was possible to be “imperfect), or negative body images. We didn’t call ourselves “stupid”; we didn’t even understand the concept of “stupid.” That is a word that was taught to us by folks (parents, guardians, friends, educators, etc.) who were also programmed to believe in a concept called “stupid.” “I’m not enough.” “I’m a hot mess.” “My accomplishments define my worthiness.” “I’m unlovable.” Do you see what I mean? Most of our beliefs have been taught to us. And the folks who taught them to us were similarly taught by someone else.

Whew. You can now see why I have an insatiable desire to unlearn all of this bullsh*t!

All of those negative (and false) perceptions of self weigh heavily on my spirit. I want to let them go. I want to hit the reset button and be cleared of these destructive words that I would never utter to another human being. That’s how toxic negative beliefs are. But imagine–we’ve been carrying these self-destructive beliefs for years upon years. Self-violence is a crown I no longer want to bear upon my head (or inside of it).

I’m reading The Fifth Agreement, a chapter about beliefs and how we can choose to not believe in what makes us suffer (negative and limiting beliefs of self). And then I stop reading. Understanding washes over me and something that once seemed so difficult and painful actually feels gracefully tangible. These words flow into my mind: “If it causes you suffering, let it go.”

I know that letting go of the things that have caused us suffering–some for days, others for years, and for some of us lifetimes–is easier said than done. It takes gentle and self-empathetic practice, and that can be a lifelong journey. But I know that being aware of what causes us suffering and taking the steps to change our beliefs can be an empowering first step.

To the readers: I know that negative beliefs of self are varying in their related trauma and experiences in our lives. In order to overcome the painful effects of various events that are often outside of our control, we may be led to seeking therapy and other healing modalities. This is courageous. Even the desire to want to overcome negative beliefs of self is incredibly brave.

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