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GUEST FEATURE: Self-reflection is Necessary for Growth

By Lisa Jenkins

When I started my new life in June 2013, I had to get to know a person I never really knew – me. For the first half of my life, I hid my true self from the world. I decided that I had to change and was determined to not accept no as an option. In my 45 years, I have overcome a dysfunctional relationship with my mother, an abusive 21-year relationship with my daughter’s father, and feelings of shame for allowing Endometriosis to derail my educational and career pursuits. 

Before realizing my new chosen path as a mental health counselor, I self-published three books that are geared toward helping others avoid or get out of similar situations. Those experiences drive my advocacy efforts to promote the importance of doing what is necessary to live a fulfilling and purposeful life. I have been extremely active and passionate about spreading the word on the importance of self-love, ending domestic violence, and voicing the need for mental wellness across the world but especially in minority communities.
The feelings of never having enough energy or being able to sleep are often expected occurrences in the fast-paced society we live in today; everything is about instant gratification. People want what they want, when they want it, and typically that means right now. Jumping from one thing to the next, to the next, and so on leads to over-commitment. No one ever wants to disappoint family or friends, so they say yes. Continuing to say yes, even when they are at their worse, shows a lack of boundaries.

It is important for sound mental health, self-care, and sanity to have boundaries. We have all heard: ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’, ‘you have to put yourself first’, ‘if you do not take care of yourself then who will?’. These are things I remind myself of every time I begin to feel overwhelmed, and you should too.     

Limiting my responses or giving no response at all often causes old hurts to creep back up. I do it to seemingly maintain peace and protect myself. But I often end up feeling miserable all over again and that affects how new conflicts are handled, even after I say that I am over the past situation. I am a big believer in forgiving, not for the person who hurt me but for myself to be able to move on. 

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting a hurtful act. I can grow to forgive but don’t know how to do the same with forgetting. I often expect new conflict to always arise in certain situations so I have my guard up, which can cloud my judgment and dictates my reactions. As I get older, I am constantly learning to pick my battles, understand or at least accept a person for who they are, and how to let go of the small stuff so that I able to tackle important things tactfully. 

The relationship with my mother has been a mixture of issues that caused tension between us. It is a third of misguided respect, third anxiety, and another third of repression. We have always had a dysfunctional relationship. I severed ties 11 years ago when she became mentally abusive to my then 13-year-old daughter. I was the same age when my first memories of my mother began and when she began mentally and emotionally abusing me. I promised my daughter when she was being delivered that she would never know that kind of pain. My daughter knew our history, so she understood my decision. I explained to her that when she turned 18, she could make her own decisions but at that point, it was best to not have my mother to not be in our lives. We reconnected in 2013 after my daughter graduated from high school.

Things are a little better than previously, but there will probably always be a permanent wall up with regards to her. My mother is in my life on a very limited basis. She is a little different with my daughter, so they have their own relationship. She has never been receptive to open and honest communication so a lot of times I ask myself ‘what’s the point’ of talking if no healthy resolution will come of it. I am resigned to the fact that with her things are just how they are. 
As with any bad habit or a behavior you want to change, it requires time and constant practice. In order to successfully make changes, problems must first be acknowledged. Once the problem is understood, how it affects the person and how he or she interacts with people, changing those specific behaviors must consciously be worked towards. It will not be easy but is necessary for growth in personal life and career.

Someone who understands how to utilize all available resources is far more likely to resolve his or her issues than if they feel trapped by personal emotions and see no way through or past them. Mental and emotional growth starts with making a commitment to get back up after slipping and making course corrections in daily actions and behaviors.

A Mother’s Love Through a Broken Heart and How to Get the F#@% Out by Skylar James (my pen name) are available at and the eBook, Ending Generational Curses, is available in pdf format by emailing me at

Lisa R. Jenkins, Owner of KRA Communications

I hope that sharing my story will motivate you to look within yourself and do some self-reflection of your own!

More about Lisa!
Lisa R. Jenkins is the founder and CEO of KRA Communications, a Chicago-based Public Relations Firm, a freelance news reporter, self-published author, motivational speaker, and creator of Kommunicate by KRA, an inspirational apparel collection.
Through her pen and voice, Lisa strives to be a resource to those who have been silenced by fear. She has discovered the importance of living a fulfilling and purposeful life through self-publishing three books, How to Get the F#@% Out (Under the pseudonym Skylar James), A Mother’s Love Through A Broken Heart, and How to Identify Four Common Generational Curses.
Lisa is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Chicago State University and a Professional Studies Certificate in Public Relations in the Digital World from Loyola University at Chicago.


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