EFOC 2024: Uncommonly Well: Cultivating Love and Feeding the Soul – Essence


“The well-being of a woman’s mind is integral to the well-being of our families, our children, and humanity,” said author, theologian, and activist Rahiel Tefamariam. This particular quote was the kick-off to Uncommonly Well: Cultivating Love and Feeding the Soul, a panel conversation moderated by television personality Tanya Sam at ESSENCE Festival. The spanning conversation that ensued also featured authors Danielle Bayard Jackson and Nona Jones

Insightful details, strategies, and personal experiences that impact Black women pertaining to friendships, moving away from comparing yourself to others, and more were discussed. Self-care was discussed by each panelist–what was most pivotal about the discussion was how they offered various perspectives on healing, wellness, and putting yourself first.

Jackson, a friendship coach, podcast host, and author of Fighting For Our Friendships shared that many of us must have a sense of urgency when it comes to our intimate relationships beyond our romantic ones. “Research doesn’t lie, it tells us that the number one thing that determines your overall well-being and life satisfaction is the quality of your relationships,” she said. She added women with female friends are paid more than their counterparts. “Women who have female friends have better emotional regulation,” Jackson adds. 

To navigate being a better friend and being more social Jackson says the 5/3/1 framework is helpful. “If you want better social health which is directly tied to how long you live or how satisfied you are with your life–interact with 5 different groups of people,” she says. 5 includes gym friends or your happy hour friends. She goes on to express that 3 is for maintaining three close relationships. While 1 boils down to one hour of social interaction a day.

When asked about the origins of her latest book, Jones shared the following. “I wrote the book Killing Comparison because I think that we often walk into the successful chapter that a person’s life is on and we just assume that’s their whole story.” She says we often assume they never have insecure moments, but this is untrue. Jones says insecurity is a function of what one’s identity is attached to.

She notes that if your identity is secured to an insecure foundation, which is anything such as a person or an opinion of a person, you will be insecure. Securing one’s identity to possessions is a trap, according to Jones.  Cars, houses, and marital statuses are things that are subject to others’ opinions. In Killing Comparison she writes that the first step you have to take to leave comparison behind is to “accept the truth.” The truth being that you have a purpose. 

A valuable lesson that was discussed before the panel concluded included Tefamariam declaring that ego is not something one should embrace. She also expressed that humility is instead a powerful entity. “Come out of narcissism to center your community,” the author added. 

Her book Imagine Freedom: Transforming Pain into Political and Spiritual Power dissects pain and trauma. It features cultural criticisms, ideals associated with decolonizing our minds, and more. 

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