What Being ‘Woke’ Really Means To Me


Recently, there was a wave of this woke notion going around for some time. It seemed as though, from the outside looking in, that everyone wanted to be this new thing where they wanted to be in the know about everything…literally. This never sat right with me. In the beginning, I thought that the idea of being woke was more of a figurative trend going around just like every other trend apart of the African American community that would fade away just as quickly as it began, but I soon realized that the term and the definition being given to that figure of speech just never matched.

In my eyes, you should always strive to gain knowledge. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing something. How else would you learn new things if you already know everything. My own interpretation of being truly woke is based solely on your own mental health, not anything else that someone tells you. Everything begins with you, not you knowing everything about everyone or even everything else around you. Everything dealing with you depends on your emotions not only towards yourself but others around you as well. Your ability to control your emotions in various situations determines what you call your emotional intelligence. To me, woke = being emotionally intelligent, and the only way you can become emotional intelligent, aka woke, is by becoming mentally healthy. My views on this subject stemmed from an article I recently came across from Mind Tools that focuses on being emotionally intelligent. According to the article and psychologist Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence consists of the five following things:

  1. Self Awareness – This is where you are fully aware of your moods, emotions, feelings and how you are as a person. You are also aware of when your emotions or feelings tend to change as they are changing versus realizing your emotions have changed at a later time after the fact. You can easily identify what your weaknesses and strengths are as well. Our journal practices and activities shown below can help with developing and building your self awareness if this is something you’re needing to improve on.


    She Heals 31 Day Self Healing Journal Challenge | Dump Your Brain Exercise

  2. Self Regulation – This is where determining how much control you truly have comes into play. If you are the type to get angry very quickly, sad because of small things, or overly emotional about petty things for example, you have poor self-regulation. You are unable to control your emotions to you full potential. Your biggest tests in life will come from this one very thing. If you are able to control whether or not you get out of character for things typically others would, you are able to self regulate yourself in tight situations. But that does not mean that tight situations won’t happen. When, not if, they do and you are in a situation where you cannot avoid the consequences of your actions, taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable is second sign that you are able to fully regulate yourself. No one or no other thing can control you or emotions.
  3. Motivation – Self-regulation leads into your self-motivation. Often times if you can not regulate yourself to not do something, then you won’t be able to motivate yourself to do something that may be truly important for you. This is that little voice that’s in your head that pushes you to your limit. That little voice that always makes sure you get up and get at it everyday towards your goals in life. If that little voice is not present or does not come into play during crucial times, you’re not self-motivating for yourself. It’s like a chain reaction: if you can’t control your emotions through self-regulation, you won’t be able to control your emotions so you can get things done. I spoke on this earlier this year in my article with Life In A Pile where I gave you all the run down on How My Failed Relationship Made Me A Better Artist. During that tough time, my emotions got the best of me and I did not know how to control them (self-regulation). As a result, I could not push myself to stay focused on my art work (motivation). Getting into the habit of developing better self-discipline, along with setting goals can help with this.
  4. Empathy – This is where you are able to recognize the emotions of others. You may have seen that question come up often during job application questions. This is very important for you when doing business with others, along with interacting with one another daily. In order for you to be able to emphasis with another, you have to be able to see things from their standpoint and also be able to take yourself out of the equation at times in order to help someone else or to even understand something about someone else. If you are a selfish person who is mainly in it for yourself, you won’t have empathy towards someone else. Developing better listening habits can help with this.
  5. Social Skills – Are like the icing on top of the emotional intelligence cake. Think of it as though you would consider 1 – 4 ingredients for that cake and number 5 as the icing. Once you develop and mix 1 – 4 together well it becomes the batter for the cake before baking. In order for you to place the icing (social skills) on top, the batter must rise in the oven, and the only way to make it rise is by putting all the skills you have learned to the test by being social in a social setting among others. If you have passed the initial test and the batter rises successfully without falling, then you can add on the icing of social skills to complete your emotional intelligence cake.

All of these things combined and achieved successfully, to me, would make a person not only socially woke among others, but consciously woke among themselves. Just like the late great Christopher Wallace said, “we can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.”

Change in this world begins with you first.

#MentalHealthMondays Additional Resources
Emotional Intelligence Quiz
What Makes a Leader – Daniel Goleman
How My Failed Relationship Made Me A Better Artist – Life in A Pile
Dump Your Brain Exercise
Death To Stock
She Heals Journal Challenge
Follow all updates weekly using hashtag #MentalHealthMondays
Suicide Hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) and 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)

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