No Justice, No Peace? A Black Man’s Guide to Clinically Treating Your Suppressed Rage

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I am 38-year-old black father who wants to comfort and educate my 13-year-old son during these difficult times, but I am struggling myself.

With the recent killings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the cops in Dallas [Editor’s note: this letter was written prior to the attack on the Baton Rouge officers] my heart has been heavy lately, and I have been feeling a little vulnerable.

I know that you are probably not used to hearing a man, especially a black man, say that he feels vulnerable. I have experienced a lot of things growing up, but I have never really felt vulnerable.

I am trying to make sense out of my emotions and my feelings of white people, especially white cops. Like most black men, I want to comfort and help my son, but I do not understand this emotional thing that is happening with me.

As a psychotherapist can you provide some insight?

Which emotion causes people to feel vulnerable and react violently?

Thanks in advance,

Vulnerable Black Father

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The 5 Types of Churchgoing Saints

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Like many saints, I go to church every Sunday because I enjoy fellowshipping and learning the word. But unfortunately, at times I get discouraged and dread going to church because I do not always look forward to dealing with the different types of saints. I realize that people are unique and different, but certain saints are difficult beings. However, in order to keep myself motivated and inspired about attending church, I engage in behavioral profiling which involves observing and categorizing saints.

I truly believe that understanding behavior is the first step to coping with it. Each saint has his or her reason (s) for attending church and in order to make the church a place where people can enjoy each other and fellowship in harmony, we have to start having conversations about the types of saints who attend and influence others in the church.

From my observations I have come to learn that are 5 Types of Churchgoing Saints. Read more

I’ve Experienced a Lot of Adversity in My Life: What Can I Do to Remain Optimistic?

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Hey Dr. B,

I have been going through some things in my personal life, and I do not know how to move on. I work very hard to remain positive and upbeat, but I have experienced a lot of adversity in my life. I was abused as a child, abandoned by my mother who used drugs and even experienced homelessness at one time. My mind is a mess. However, I keep pushing on because God has provided for me through the tough times. I have a heart of God and feel blessed because I am still breathing. Nevertheless, sometimes I still find it difficult to remain optimistic.

With such turmoil in my life, what can I do to remain optimistic?

Thanks in advance,

A Blessed Man

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5 Tips for Dating Yourself (You Don’t Want to Miss)

Self-Esteem

Written by Karen Bontrager

Being on a first time date requires much effort on an individual’s part because the overall objective is to appear confident and well put together. With this goal in mind, a person will spend a considerable amount of time choosing the perfect outfit, and getting ready. During the entirety of the date, they will be extremely nervous about their own conversation and actions. And when the evening has ended, every detail will be laboriously scrutinized; from the choice of venue and dinner selections to the errors and omissions of both parties.

The above scenario is what typically occurs on a first date for many people, but what tends to happen to so many of us who are not engaging in these first time experiences, or who are not currently involved in relationships? I cannot speak for men, although I am sure that they suffer as well, but the research is clear that many single women, both young and old, waste that precious time lamenting over couples in love, watching Netflix, and eating excessive amounts of junk food, while feeling overtly emotional. Please, do not condemn yourself ladies if this has been your weekend routine for the last month, year, and/or decade. For the males who are reading this, who have similar but not the same coping mechanisms, imagine that there is a different, more positive perspective to be had about being single. Consider, for a moment what would be possible if right now you could learn to expend your unused, positive energy of being with that exciting, first time date on you because you knew the Five Tips for Dating Yourself. How would your attitude and life change with such a mindset? Realize that if given some time to adjust to this new way of thinking, you could get as excited getting to know and admire you, as that person potentially sitting across the table.

Here are 5 Tips for Dating Yourself (You Don’t Want to Miss).

Get acquainted with this concept of dating yourself.

Since you may not have thought about being single in this positive manner, it will take some time getting adjusted to the idea. (Parents, talk to your teen or college-aged child about enjoying this stage in their lives. Explain that this period will not last and should be cherished).

Consider the first date with you.

Spend time imagining the possibilities of being able to be alone with yourself and actually enjoying the experience of getting to know you. What comes up? Are you uncomfortable by the mere thought, or are you feeling positive about giving yourself the permission to be with whatever is there?

Start to journal.

Writing down your thoughts every day will help you reflect upon the things that you are learning about you, which will help you appreciate yourself more.

Begin to take into consideration your likes and dislikes.

If you have never thought about what you wanted or do not want, start today. Use your past as a benchmark. What activities and individuals have made you happy and brought enjoyment into your life, and how can you incorporate more of these people and things into your life currently?

Be merciful with your ability to adjust.

If you are not used to being single, do not condemn yourself for being upset or feeling lonely occasionally because old habits die hard.

Dating someone for the first time, whether it is another or you, takes some getting used to in the beginning. However, if you decide to date yourself, you may discover that you are a truly, special person that has much to give another if you learn to first give to you.

 

Sick and Tired – Ferguson and Baltimore

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I want to preface this article by telling you that I believe that sharing is caring. I am sharing my thoughts with the intent of creating productive and healthy dialogue.  I am not judging anyone, but simply expressing my personal view. My hope is that you read this article with an open-heart and non-defensive posture.  I am open to dialogue about solutions because I do not believe that you can empower people by focusing more on their weaknesses and challenges than their strengthens.

Like Fannie Lou Hamer, I am sick and tired of fighting against systematic injustice and discrimination. I’m tired of the police brutality, overt and covert racism, violence and waiting on a corrupt system to correct its wrongs.  I am sick and tired of being called a “House nigger, Sell-out and Oreo by Black people because I have achieved some level of success and choose not to be extremely angry with individuals who may have directly or indirectly contributed to my suffering or the suffering of Black people in general. But more importantly, I am sick and tired of Black people making excuses and defending ignorance and destruction within black communities. The oppression and victim mentality is counterproductive.

I can relate and empathize with the struggle, but we as a group of people can do better.  Everyone has a story to tell and I am sharing my story. My story is my story and your story is yours. We are all unique in our own ways, but I am sharing my story to simply say, “I get it” and to hopefully inspire change.

Here it is.

Yes, I was born in St. Louis, MO and raised in the ghetto by my single parent mom.  Yes, I was born with a speech impediment and did not receive proper services until I was in kindergarten.  Yes, I repeated the first and second grades because I did poorly in school. Yes, I lived in a three room house (not bed rooms) total 3 rooms with my siblings. Yes, I had to get firewood from vacant houses to keep warm because we did not have heat. Yes, I had to heat water because we did not have running hot water. Yes, I had to take a bath in a washing bucket because we did not have a bath tube. Yes, I had to share my sleeping space with rats and roaches. Yes, I witnessed police brutality and was harassed. Yes, I saw dead bodies and was exposed to violence daily. Yes, I ate sugar and bread for dessert. Yes, I ate thick government cheese. Yes, I grew up with and hung out with crips and bloods, drug dealers and thugs. Yes, I have seen too much death. And Yes, I was filled with anger.

Despite all of my hardship, I never bought into the victim mentality. Like others, I did wrong, but I never blamed society for my wrongdoing. I made a decision each day.  Please stop making excuses and blaming people. If you blame others for your emotions, they will control you. If you take responsibility for your emotions, you will control yourself. If there is will, there is a way.  Forward progression requires forward thinking. If I Can Become a Doctor so Can You. Get help and guidance. I did.

Remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution. If you are ready and willing to find solutions, please contact me. You provide the platform and audience and I will provide knowledge and education.  I do not claim to have all the answers, but I am willing to share what I know and what worked for me. I do know that adversity builds resilience, and resilience is a precursor to success.

Be blessed,

Dr. Buckingham

Why We Mourn: Michael Brown and Robin Williams

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As a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a compassionate clinical psychotherapist, I wrote this article with sadness and sorrow in my heart. Over the past few days we have witnessed the negative impact of what happens to a nation when individuals who are troubled do not receive any or inadequate mental health intervention.

In light of the recent loss of Michael Brown an unarmed 18 year-old black male who was shot and killed by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb and the death of Robin Williams an American actor, stand-up comedian and screenwriter who committed suicide, millions of Americans are mourning and trying to figure out what went wrong.

The answer is simple. Peace for all cannot be achieved until individuals who are troubled receive adequate mental health intervention, because murder, rioting, homicide and/or suicide are by-products of troubled and distorted thinking. It is impossible to have a peaceful nation when a large percentage of Americans do not have peaceful minds.

Here are two explanations for why we mourn:

Michael Brown 

The rioting that is currently occurring in St. Louis is a result of unresolved and suppressed anger that is associated with a history of real and/or perceived injustice. Anger is an emotion or mind-set that typically causes individuals to strike out when they feel that someone has treated them unfairly or unjustly. Anger often intensifies when individuals are frustrated, hurt, disappointed or threatened. The unfortunate death of Michael Brown caused this powerful emotion to manifest in many African Americans. It is important to remember that unmanaged anger is unhealthy and those who feel angered over an extended period of time typically lose their ability to think clearly and act rationally. Anger is part of the grieving process and is one of the most poorly managed emotions in society today. When expressed in a negative manner, it can and will hurt others. Marching and protesting can bring about legal justice, but mental health intervention is needed in order to heal troubled and angered minds. No mental health intervention = no peace! This is why we mourn.

Robin Williams  

According to CNN, Robin Williams committed suicide as a result of struggling with drug addiction and severe depression. Depression is an emotion or mind-set that typically causes individuals to internalize their suffering and/or distress. Depression often intensifies when individuals feel hopelessness, helplessness and discouragement. No matter how much money or fame an individual acquire, thoughts of hopelessness can cause him or her to do the unthinkable (commit suicide). Hope provides a means and desire to move forward in life. A person who lacks hope lacks the desire to progress. Money and fame can offer temporary peace and happiness, but adequate mental health intervention is needed in order to heal troubled and depressed minds. Inadequate mental health intervention = no peace! This is why we mourn.

I provided these brief explanations to help you understand why we mourn and to emphasize that the key to having a peaceful nation is to ensure that all Americans, especially those who are troubled receive sufficient and timely mental health intervention. Although tragedy after tragedy continues to occur on a daily basis in our great nation, politicians and social activists have yet to realize that laws and the legal system cannot ensure peaceful living. Laws, protests and/or fame cannot change or heal troubled minds. Psychological peace is the key to creating a healthy nation and this can only be achieved through mental health intervention.

Experiencing adversity is not avoidable, but overcoming it is definitely achievable. We cannot always determine and control the challenges we are confronted with, but we can determine and control how we cope with them. Sometimes our mind is our greatest weapon. It is only natural to want to attack those who hurt, devalue you, belittle you or disrespect you. However, fighting fire with fire has never proven to be effective. Get your mind right and your life will follow. Mourning is normal, but destruction is not. Remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution. Empowering people does not happen by highlighting their struggles, but by highlighting their strengths. Seek professional counseling and ask God for strength, but do not engage in self-destructive or self-inhibiting behavior.

Resilient Thinking

Resilient Thinking was written to inspire individuals who struggle with overcoming adversity. What this life-changing and inspiring book makes clear is that being realistic and maintaining a positive attitude are key ingredients to becoming a resilient thinker and successfully navigating through life, love and relationships.
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Resilient thinking is the cognitive ability to identify and embrace realistic and optimistic thoughts that promote growth and forward progress after facing adversity. The heart-felt thoughts that are outlined in this timeless and motivational book are personal sayings that have helped Dr. Buckingham and thousands of his clients to exchange lifestyles filled with hardship, disappointment and dread to lifestyles filled with favor, satisfaction and confidence.

After reading this empowering quote book, you will learn the importance of embracing realistic and optimistic thoughts; learn how to replace hopeless thinking with hopeful thinking; and most importantly, you will learn how to successfully navigate through life, love and relationships. As you immerse yourself into this book, remember that resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution.

“Resilient Thinking: The Power of Embracing Realistic Thoughts about Life, Love and Relationships” is available now for just $10.80 at Amazon.com.

Click here to secure your copy today.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Buckingham

 

The #1 Reason You Should Have an Attitude of Gratitude Entering 2014

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With a burning desire to establish and achieve New Year’s Resolutions, many of you set aside time to reflect on your past year’s lifestyle and overall attitude. In your quest to maintain a positive attitude entering the New Year, you express gratitude to God for giving you another year to enhance your health; improve your financial situation; to lose a few extra pounds; to restore broken and damaged relationships; and to achieve career aspirations.

Fitness, finance, career and relationship goals become priority and you dedicate your time and energy toward achieving these goals. Some of you will achieve some level of success by the end of the year and some of you will fall short. But what is most disturbing is that no matter what happens, many of you will always find something to complain about.

As an imperfect individual like you, I can relate to your struggle to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Unfortunately, the ability to maintain an attitude of gratitude is challenging because we get side-tracked by focusing on replaceable material things and lose sight of the number reason why we should have an attitude of gratitude. Life will definitely throw you curve balls, but it is important to remain grateful.

Here is the number one reason why you should have an attitude of gratitude entering 2014:

#1. You Are Still Breathing. Breathing is part of physiological respiration and is required to sustain life.  No matter what troubles you have had in the past, you should have an attitude of gratitude because you are still breathing. On a daily basis many of us take this very basic, but essential life function for granted. As you enter into and journey through 2014, please remember with gratitude those who lost their lives in 2013 at the hands of troubled and ungrateful souls.

Here is summary of six unfortunate and tragic reminders of why it is important to be grateful that you are still breathing:

Boston Marathon bombings

During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:49 pm EDT, killing 3 people and injuring an estimated 264 others. The bombs exploded about 13 seconds and 210 yards (190 m) apart, near the finish line on Boylston Street. At least 14 people required amputations, with some suffering traumatic amputations as a direct result of the blasts.

2013 Santa Monica shooting

On June 7, 2013, a killing spree by a lone gunman occurred in Santa Monica, California, starting with a domestic dispute and subsequent fire at a home, followed by a series of shootings near and on the campus of Santa Monica College. Six people were killed, including the suspect, and four people were injured in the incident. The gunman, 23-year-old John Zawahri, was killed by police officers when he exchanged gunfire with them at the Santa Monica College library.

Washington Navy Yard shooting

On September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis, a lone gunman armed initially with a shotgun, fatally shot twelve people and injured three others in a mass shooting at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) inside the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, D.C. The attack began around 8:20 a.m. EDT in Building 197. Alexis was killed by police around 9:20 a.m. EDT.

2013 Los Angeles International Airport shooting

On November 1, 2013, a shooting occurred at around 9:20 a.m. PDT in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport. Paul Anthony Ciancia, aged 23, has been accused of opening fire with a rifle, killing a U.S. government Transportation Security Administration officer and injuring several other people.

Shooting of Renisha McBride

The fatal shooting of Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African-American woman, occurred on November 2, 2013 in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. She was shot to death on a homeowner’s porch after crashing her car and trying to get home. On November 15, Theodore Wafer was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. Wafer has stated that the shooting was accidental and that he thought his home was being broken into.

31 American troops killed in Afghanistan

On August 6, 2013 a military helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops and seven Afghan commandos. Twenty-five of the dead were U.S. Navy SEALs.

I summarized these unfortunate tragedies to remind you that life is not guaranteed and to strongly encourage you to monitor your attitude. What you think about your circumstances and say to yourself significantly affects your attitude about life. As you navigate through 2014, please do not allow your trials and tribulations to cause or contribute to feelings of ungratefulness. As long as you are breathing you have an opportunity to turn wrong into right; to turn hate into love; to turn poverty into wealth; and to turn to despair into hope. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth”...Isaiah 43:18-19. All living things have the capacity for growth and adaptation. When you feel discouraged take a deep breath and thank God for breathing – this in and of itself is enough to be grateful for.

I have an Attitude of Gratitude because today is my birthday and I thank God that I am still breathing.

Happy New Years and Be Blessed,
Dr. Dwayne Buckingham

6 Steps to Reaching Manhood

Every young boy at some point in his life either realizes or is told that one day he will become a man and will be expected to embrace manhood. Knowledge of what manhood is provides the road map for living our lives and helps to shape our souls and relationships as men. However, reaching manhood is a very challenging task for many young boys because the meaning or definition of manhood is very subjective. According to Webster’s Dictionary, manhood is defined as the state or quality of being manly. Women and men alike typically associate manliness with being tough, athletic, unapologetic, firm, insensitive, competitive and dominant.

On my journey into manhood, I was taught that manhood is about protecting and providing for loved ones, wooing and dominating women and suppressing emotions that made me feel weak or vulnerable. With a lack of clarity or consensus about the meaning or definition of “manhood”, many young boys venture into manhood while maintaining “boy” qualities. They are groomed into believing that the possession of money and titles is what determines one’s level of manhood. This belief system is what has many young boys and men walking around with low self-esteem issues, feeling depressed, unhappy and insecure because they do not possess material things and/or titles that they believe to define their manhood. In order to prevent this unfortunate phenomenon from continuing we must successfully answer one fundamental question: What is manhood and how does one reach it?

Defining what it means to be man is very important. How can a young boy grow up to become a man who embraces his God given role as a Conqueror and Head of Household if he does not know what manhood is or how to reach it?

Here are 6 steps to reach Manhood:

1. Learn to Acknowledge and Express Sensitive Emotions

Embrace the role of a provider and protector, but do not limit your ability to express the God-given emotions you were blessed with. Learn to acknowledge and express sensitive emotions in your relationship and understand that you get what you give. Eliminate the “tough guy… I don’t care” persona because it will only distance you from the people you love. Do not allow this male dominated society to prevent you from sharing your gift of compassion. Be okay with showing affection so that you can develop a good balance of emotional and intellectual expression in your relationships.

Do not worry about what other men think about you and do not hesitate to express affection when you feel it. The expression of sensitive emotions does not convey that you are weak or feminine; it does, however, convey that you are compassionate. Understand that God created humans, both men and women, with a full range of emotions because He understood that men, like women, could not appreciate happiness without sadness, calmness without anger, laughter without crying, empathy without judgment, and love without hate. Recognize that expressing sensitive emotions is natural and doing so will enable you to share what’s in your heart.

Manhood is about being confident and secure in your identity. Demonstrate that you do not have a problem with opening up, particularly if it will bring peace into your life and relationships. Do not be afraid to seek professional guidance if your personal shortcomings are creating distress for you and/or the people you claim to love.

2. Eliminate Prideful Thinking and Unapologetic Behavior

Learn humility, give compliments and lift up others instead of tearing them down. Apologize when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. Be mindful that stubbornness is a sign of insecurity. You should strive to address any insecurities you might have. Lead others to influence them, not to control them.

The Bible says that pride leads to disgrace (Proverbs 11:2); produces quarrels (Proverbs 13:10); leads to punishment (Proverbs 16:5); and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Too much pride and love for yourself will distance you from God. Once you learn humility, giving compliments and apologizing to others will come easy.

Manhood is about being humble and secure. Demonstrate signs of identity security. Be secure in your identity as a husband, head of household, protector, provider, lover and compromiser. Always be willing to compromise and apologize to those who bring fulfillment into your life. A man who is committed only to himself will be by himself.

3. Set the Tempo

“You reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7). The seeds you plant (sow) will result in your harvest (reap). The quality of your harvest depends on the kind of seeds you sow. If you sow chaos, you will not reap harmony. If you expect others to do as you wish, exemplify that desired behavior. The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” is irrational. If you desire respect, then demonstrate it. If you desire to have others submit to you, then be willing to submit yourself. If you desire others to show personal integrity, then live righteously, admit your wrongs and strive to overcome them.

Manhood is about demonstrating personal integrity, fostering love and independence, providing guidance, and being accountable for your actions. To live righteously in this sinful world is not easy, but setting the example for others is important.

4. Surrender your life to God

Often we like to take matters into our own hands and rely on our own means, but God demands that we surrender to His will in all our endeavors. We must learn to walk in faith and know that God will provide as He promised. We must also remember that the battle is His and not ours. Being submissive pleases God and demonstrates faith. We were created to submit to and obey Him, and only Him.
Manhood is about surrendering and honoring God. Be faithful to Him and He will be faithful to you. Learn to turn to God and He will fight and win battles for you. If you live by His Word, He will protect you. Every Word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5).

5. Forgive others for their Unruliness

God will deal with those who hurt, belittle, humiliate or disgrace you. Taking matters into your own hands displays a lack of confidence in God. He will judge and persecute all wrong doers. A heart of forgiveness is required of all God’s children. Forgiving others is not easy, but God requires you to do it. If you desire forgiveness, you must be willing to forgive. Refusing to forgive others is a sign of selfishness. God is not selfish.

Manhood is about removing despair, bitterness, and hatred from your heart. Jesus suffered at the hands of evil men and did not retaliate. He allowed his offenders to be judged by the One who judges fairly (1 Peter 2:23).

6. Put Away Childish Things

Stop engaging in behavior that is childish in nature. Boys throw temper tantrums – men process and act responsibility. Boys are driven by lust – men are driven by love. Boys break down when faced with adversity – men step up. Boys need guidance – men provide guidance.

Manhood is about putting away childhood things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 states, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

During my short time on this earth, I have learned that manhood is not about who you are, but how you live. Reaching manhood is possible for any young boy or man who applies the 6 steps outlined above. Remember that a REAL man does not self-destruct or harm others. A REAL man strives to improve his life and the lives of others in a healthy and productive manner. A “R.E.AL.” man embraces manhood and lives his life as a conqueror and head of his household.

Inspiration from the Heart

As I begin a new year and chapter in my life, I pray that God continues to bless and use me as a vessel to inspire and uplift others.

God’s grace and presence in my life has inspired me to reach out to individuals who are in need of a kind word and active ear. In my daily job as a psychotherapist and life skills consultant, I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to help others while growing emotionally and spiritually myself.

As I interact with clients, family members and friends on a daily basis, I have become more aware of individuals’ strong desire to be loved. As I listen to the struggles individuals face in their relationships and life in general, I challenge them to do some soul searching by examining what they feel in their Hearts.

The Heart is an organ that gives life to emotions and whatever a person feels toward others can be linked to the condition of his or her heart. With this in mind, I encourage individuals to strive to maintain a pure heart. According to Matthew 5: 8 Blessed are the pure in heart.

As I have grown in my spirituality, I have learned the importance of maintaining a pure heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

God created us out of love so that we can love. I have personally embraced this basic spiritual concept and hope that you will as well. Do not miss an opportunity to purify your heart and let others know how you feel about them. I am grateful that God has allowed our paths to cross.