Words have power, friends. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize how much power lies in the tongue.
Let’s take the word no, for example. Do you know how powerful your no is? Some of us are learning that, and it high key upsets a lot of people.
This week’s news has been all about the GOAT, Simone Biles, and her withdrawal from the Olympic games. She reported feeling disoriented in the air and tapped out to care for her physical and mental health. I respect the hell out of her for this. The doll has been pushing through so much to please others. She has achieved more than most by the age of 24, and she deserves her peace wherever she can get it.
Simone dared to do what was right for her on the global stage. In a statement, Biles said, “I have to focus on my mental health. We have to protect our minds and bodies, not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.” Naomi Osaka made a similar statement before taking a break from tennis several months prior.
Business as Usual
And people were pissed.
They say she choked, that the pressure was too much.
It might have been, but that’s not our business. Simone has proven over and over that she comes to the mat and handles her business. Point blank, period. She has never given us any reason to doubt her judgment.
They compare her with Michael Jordan, foolishly asking what would have happened if he walked out on his team in Game 7 on the NBA Finals. These people wholly put aside that they can only come up with possibly the greatest basketball player ever to compare her to. That’s the level that Ms. Biles operates on. Legendary status.
There are even comparisons to Kerri Strug’s sacrificial vault during the 1996 Olympic games. She’d hurt her ankle during the landing of her first vault, but her coach persuaded her to vault again to secure the gold medal for the USA. She went for it, and the team took gold. If you were old enough to see it when it happened, you could tell she had no business doing that second vault. I was a kid at the time, but I could tell she was in terrible pain. The fact that she landed it as well as she did was a testament to how good she was, but the damage had been done. Strug had to retire from gymnastics soon after, at the age of 19.
Imagine retiring from anything at 19 for medical reasons. Your body simply can’t take it anymore. There are countless examples of women going above and beyond, only to be discarded when times got tough. There are just high-profile cases. It happens every day.
You have the Power
Did you know that no one has a right to access your body or your energy? Additionally, did you know that you have the right to demand your space?
You might know those things consciously, but I bet there are still people or situations in your life that are sapping your yeses right out of you.
You might get volunteered to chair a committee or tasked with taking care of the kids. There might even be a friend or relative who can get you to do whatever they ask if they whine enough about it.
I’ve talked before about boundaries and energy vampires. They exist, and they are everywhere. I mentioned being able to resist and fight back against them before. I’m talking about the power of saying no.
People get mad when women say no. I’m noticed this with Black women in particular. If you ask, nay demand something of a black woman, and they have to say no, It’s an instant problem.
It gives me “Mammy” energy. The stereotype of the Black woman that tends to do everything so that white folks don’t need to be bothered.
“Cook my meals, Black woman.”
“Keep my house clean, Black woman.”
“Raise my babies, Black woman.”
Nowadays, it goes deeper than that. Now we hear
“Can you file these reports?”
“You need to perform at all times for my entertainment.”
“You should do this thing that would make my life easier but cause you a major headache.”
No, girl. No.
I’m done. We are done and finished and complete over here.
If that woman actually manages to say no, you need to honor and respect her denial. That no came from a strong place. That denial was probably brutal to get to for that woman. Plus, you have to keep in mind the constant demands on most woman’s plates. Children, spouses, relatives, friends, coworkers, all these folks are pulling you in a thousand directions. A lot of women go along with that. For the sake of keeping the peace, we’ll agree to whatever. It’s draining and demeaning, and I’m sick of it.
Respect her autonomy and let it go. Find someone else to bother.
There is also a lot of discussion from older Black folks about just sucking it up and carrying on. Just keep doing for others, despite how terrible things might be for you. They had to do it, so you’ll be fine. Think of our grandmothers that endured loveless marriages and cheating spouses. They remained in these relationships out of expectation and inability to survive on their own. Not all of our elder women have this story, but it’s enough of them for it to be a familiar tale. Why wouldn’t they want their granddaughters to be better off than they are, to be free from society’s shackles?
I believe that some of this stems from a faith perspective. The belief that things will be perfect in Heaven is supposed to make up for our suffering on Earth. The thinking that humans are meant to suffer and die as Jesus did. We have to endure countless injuries and indignities because Jesus did, and we would be rewarded with being at the right hand of the Father one day.
What kind of torture porn thinking is that?
Life on Earth is hard, and if you think that enduring until you get your heavenly reward works for you, carry on and be blessed. However, that puts a terrible perspective on living. There is little incentive to enjoy your life. Just keep toiling and hurting; you’ll get what’s coming to you.
Yes, you will. High blood pressure, strokes, and heart disease send hundreds, if not thousands of women to be with Jesus every day.
Enjoy your life while you have it to live. If that means making some boundaries to protect your heart and your energy, so be it. Taking care of yourself should be a priority. We can’t take excellent care of anyone with no fuel to run on.
Take care of You
There is no reason for society to wish ill on those of us who chose to protect ourselves this way. They may call us selfish but being selfish isn’t a bad thing at times. On the contrary, being selfish has preserved our species throughout history.
Looking out for number one isn’t seen as an issue when men do it either. People say that assertiveness is an excellent trait to have in a leader. If a woman behaves the same way, she’s a selfish trollop and should be shunned. Yet another double standard that society leaves unchallenged in favor of the patriarchy.
I’m getting off-topic now.
Sis, if you need to take a break, please do so. You don’t own anyone anything. You’ve done more than enough, I assure you. Everything will be right here whenever you’re ready. So take all the time you need. Please.
Take care. Be easy. Be safe. I love you.
17 thoughts on “Power in the Tongue”
Absolutely. I agree that we have to look after our bodies and minds and nobody should hate us for it.
Yes! Thanks for reading!
Agree, learning to say no has been a game changer. Definitely going to start using ‘energy vampires’
Glad to help. Thanks for reading!
Simone Biles did exactly the right thing and the comparison with Michael Jordan fails to remember that he took years off because of his mental health — he had to step away, and so did Simone. The people complaining about her would have found fault if she had carried on, they would have found fault if she won. I was so impressed she took her health seriously, we all need to because nobody else can live our lives for us. Thanks for this reminder to use ‘No’ when we need to!
Thanks for reading
“Did you know that no one has a right to access your body or your energy? Additionally, did you know that you have the right to demand your space?”
I love this powerful assertion of boundaries – it’s a statement of the absolute right that we have to a healthy and fulfilling existence. It’s been infuriating to see some of the responses to Simone Biles making the decision to prioritise her mental and physical wellbeing. There shouldn’t be any questions about whether this was the right thing to do! Self-care isn’t a luxury – it’s something vital that you do when you have a strong sense of self-worth and you know that you’re far more than the sum of what you can do for others. Thank you for this post!
Thanks for reading!
simone bile’s decision was such a monumental moment for society because we need to show our mental health more importance. and society still looks at self care especially for our mental health with so much stigma. saying no is so important. when we take on too much or do something we don’t to do that affects us in so many ways.
thanks for discussing this topic!
Thanks for reading!
Doing what she thought she had to do was a vital decision for Simone Biles. No one was in her shoes and it was necessary for herself. I’m so glad the example she made for so many others who haven’t when they needed to. Thank you for sharing this post.
Thanks for reading!
I definitely agree! Saying no is one of the hardest things to do, especially for women. We have to respect anyone who is able to muster up the courage to say no. Women tend to be people pleasers and wear themselves thin. It is important to assert ourselves and know when enough is enough. Great post!
This is so true – it’s definitely possible that Simone couldn’t handle the pressure, but there’s an unbelievable amount of pressure that’s been put on her and I can’t imagine the kind of toll that might take on your mental health. I think people were just disappointed because of how much anticipation there was for her, but at the end of the day, it’s not your place to judge someone for whether or not they want to perform or compete. Great opinions here – I’d love to see a future post from you on the ‘Free Britney’ movement because there’s some similarities between the two. We see performers as there for our entertainment rather than actual people.
I thought about including Britney in this one but she’s dealing with a different type of exploitation. Maybe in another piece.