S03 E03: Healing Our Hearts and Minds During COVID-19


Pod Squad

Dr. Jessi Gold Dr. Jessi Gold Psychiatrist & Assistant Professor | Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine @drjessigold
Kenny Park Yi Kenny Park Yi Communications Assistant | The Leadership Conference

Interview Guest

Rob Hill, Sr. Rob Hill, Sr. Author, Navy Veteran, Entrepreneur @RobHillSr

Our Host

Allyn Brooks-LaSure Executive Vice President of Communications | The Leadership Conference @BrooksLaSure

Contact the Team

For all inquiries related to Pod For The Cause, please contact Brittany Johnson at [email protected] and Kenny Yi at [email protected].

Episode Transcript

Allyn:                          Welcome to Pod for the Cause, the official podcast of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund. This is where we expand the conversation on the critical civil and human rights issues of our day. I’m your host, Allyn Brooks-LaSure, coming to you from Washington, D.C. Like we start off every show, we’ve got the Pod Squad, where we discuss pop culture, social justice, and just about everything in between.


We’ve got some amazing folks on the Pod Squad today. First up is Dr. Jessi Gold, psychiatrist and Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. And we’ve got our own Kenny Park Yi, Communications Assistant with the Leadership Conference and student of comedy. In this episode we’re talking all about the psychological impacts of COVID, especially in communities of color. Let’s just start off with you, Dr. Gold. Why did you get into psychiatry?


Dr. Jessi:                     For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. My dad’s actually a psychiatrist, so when I went into medical school I was like, “I’m not going to do what my dad does, and I like the brain, so I’m going to be a neurologist.” But then when I was doing neurology, I was like, “This isn’t as much talking to people. I don’t get to know their stories as much as I really want to.”


When you were doing psychiatry and all the interviews for medicine, you got more time with people, and you really studied and really cared about all the psychological influences on their disease processes and all the social influences, and we weren’t so just bogged down in all the biologic stuff. I thought that was really interesting, and I was really excited by it. I still remain to be interested and excited by it.


I think you could see a hundred people with depression, and they all have different stories, so you never really get bored, and I think that’s one of the reasons I love it. Because I think if you do other things in medicine you might still give the same treatment every time, but people might start to all blend together. I don’t really feel like that in my job, which is nice.


Allyn:                          You purposely picked the profession that requires more of the talking. How’s that going when you’re drained, when you’re stressed? How does that work out?


Dr. Jessi:                     You know, usually it’s not so bad because it’ll be a couple of times a month or a year, honestly, where I’ll be like, “All right. The world is a bad world and it can be hard.” You know what I mean? Sometimes it just is a week when people’s stories are really hard and you start to just be like, “Wow. The world’s a bad place.” But with the pandemic, I will say that things have been a lot harder. I think the stories are more similar to what’s going on in our own lives. Usually you can create a pretty solid distance between your own problems and what your patients are dealing with.


Even if they’re somewhat similar to something you’ve had in your life you can say, “Well, that’s them. That’s not me,” and I can distance from it. But literally everything with COVID is like something you’re dealing with. Right? Like, “I’m really tired existentially. Why?” And like, “This is really hard. I don’t get to see my friends,” or like, “My job is really different and I can’t adjust.” It’s one after another and everything is really similar. I see – healthcare workers as one of the patients I see, so that makes it an added thing where if it’s a lot more tiring, I will say I’ve had a lot more need to sleep after work.


Zoom is also a lot more tiring than in-person work. I miss humans. I mean I think everybody does, but I think I’m in a very human profession. I’m very used to seeing people all the time, and I think I took for granted that seeing people for part of my job was very life giving. And there is a boundary for the computer that makes it not as … You just don’t get the same energy back, and I think it does create some sort of barrier at getting to know the person as much as you would want. I think doing that 30-minute intervals all day, or 30-minute to an hour intervals all day, it’s just really tiring.


Allyn:                          What about you, Kenny? You work at a legacy civil rights organization and you study comedy. Both of these, the civil rights fight and comedy, are known to speak truth to power in their own unique way. What got you into both of those?


Kenny:                        I feel like you don’t grow up as a chubby, Asian, gay kid in North Carolina without learning to throw a few punches back at people. My older brother was always funny. It’s like TV was such a big thing growing up, so I’d watch Mad TV, which is such a dated reference now. Civil rights, is it embarrassing to say, “Allyn, you’re the one who interviewed me for my job.” I just kind of landed in it.


Our office is such a joyful office. The people, they make it so easy to do this work even though the work itself is so depressing. Oh my God, I don’t know why people dedicate their lives to doing this, but they do it for the greater good. But the people who are doing the work are so much fun. They’re so joyful. They’re so smart, and they’re so easy to be around, so it is depressing to just see each other in these little boxes.


Allyn:                          Let me ask both of you this. We are in a time right now, not just COVID-19, right? If COVID-19 were happening, if all the political changes, the assaults on the census, the assault on the courts, the assaults on voting, if all of these things and COVID-19 were happening, it would be enough. We would have plenty of episodes to talk about the psychological impacts that people are feeling. But also couple that with a racial reckoning that is occurring that hasn’t happened in several generations.


All of that is layered on top of it, where people are feeling they need to be able to share their pain. Jessi, you have an interesting quote. You said, “We need to stop setting ourselves on fire to keep everyone else warm.” But isn’t that the nature of the civil rights fight? How do you deal with that? How do you deal with this need to keep everyone else warm while also doing self-care at the same time?


Dr. Jessi:                     Yes and no. I think it is, but we also have to think about ourselves. I think we do very much live in a world where we get energy from advocating, where advocacy is probably one of our biggest purposes for living. Right? I would say advocacy, writing, existing in a space in which I talk about mental health and talk about gender equity, is very much a coping mechanism for me.


Right when the pandemic started I was writing four times as many pieces, and I was like, “Hey. What’s that about?” I had to check myself and be like, “Am I doing that for other people? Am I doing that for me? Is this healthy?” I think there is a healthy balance of, you’re doing this, but you also are a human. So, you have to say, I love this. It gives me life. It is so fulfilling in so many ways, and a lot of times does protect me so, so much from depression, anxiety, being fatigued, from worrying so much about the world because I’m trying to change it.


However, I’m a human. I only have so much in my tank. Giving, and giving, and giving, takes. Right? So, at a certain point you don’t have anything left. So, you do have to say, “Wait a second. I have to think about me too.” I’m a physician. Physicians are horrible at this. Right? We’re very likely to put the mask on other people before ourselves. We never think about symptoms in ourselves even though we go through medical school, and they teach you all the signs of depression and anxiety.


We’re like, “That’s not us.” We easily could say our patient’s sad, or our friends are sad, or our parents are sad. Ask a physician if they have emotions, and they’ll start laughing at you. They’ll be like, “Why I do I have emotions? I’m awesome.” It’s not in our vocabulary, and it needs to be. But I think it’s as simple as saying, “Listen. This work is great. This work is important. I have feelings, and those feelings need to be expressed and managed.” So, “I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel stressed. I feel anxious. I need to do something about that.”


That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go to treatment. It might mean you need to talk to someone. It might mean you figure out what things work for you to cope outside of advocacy, because advocacy can’t be your sole coping mechanism, because it does take and take and take. You need to find something else. You need to say, “Taking a bath helps, exercise helps, journaling helps.” Like something else.


You just need to find something that isn’t also giving so much to the world, but gives back to you. I think that’s something I’ve had to check in myself a lot, and that’s what I mean by lighting yourself on fire to keep everyone warm. Which is just being aware that like you’re a person and you can’t keep going and going and going without saying, “Wait, I’m a limited resource and people need me. And to stay functioning and as a resource, I need to be the best that I can be. And to be the best I can be, I have to take care of myself.”


Allyn:                          Kenny, what role does comedy play in all of this? We saw recently the Dave Chappelle special on Netflix, where he talks specifically about the murder of George Floyd. This is a comedian who is standing up in front of a crowd who is expecting comedy, talking about a very serious issue, a very traumatic issue for the nation and for the family of George Floyd. What is the role that comedy is supposed to play here?


Kenny:                        It’s a bit of a mixed bag because people always like to say, “I don’t want to watch a movie and try and learn a lesson. I want something to take me away.” But I think every piece of art that we’ve been consuming forever has been political in some way. It’s always been something to teach us something. That Dave Chappelle special was really important. It was something that people needed to help process that.


Comedy has done that for me my whole life. I don’t know if I can make sense of truly any of this, all of this feels so incredibly random, so let’s laugh about it. Let’s joke about it. And then, from there, we can come to this commonplace and try to figure something out. But we’re talking specifically about communities of color – at the start of the pandemic, one of the things that we noticed was that Asian people were being targeted in these hate crimes because people didn’t really understand what COVID-19 was, and they just assumed that it was originating from Asian people.


We saw all these kinds of horrible videos of people being attacked. So, we kind of had to decide like, how was I going to process this? Something I love to do is laugh about stuff. So, it was connecting with family, connecting with friends who are Asian people and trying to make a joke out of it, because that’s just how I process stuff. Otherwise, it would be toooooo depressing.


Allyn:                          And Jessi, how are groups supposed to process pain? How do communities, how does a nation process pain?


Dr. Jessi:                     It’s a really complicated question. I think collective trauma in this level is not something we’ve experienced as a country for a very long time. So, this massive, everybody’s going through the same thing in different ways, and it hits different communities in different ways.


We haven’t had something like that probably since wars – big wars, like World Wars. September 11th is probably the closest that people can talk about in their lifetime. But again, that was more of a time-limited feeling to people. There was a lot less of this long-term uncertainty aftermath.


It was more limited, right? When we think about this, it’s sort of like, how do you cope as a community? Are you a spiritual person? Is your community a community that takes solace in going to church? And if that’s true, maybe that is where you will find the answer and you will be supportive to each other there.


Are you not a spiritual person, and what you take solace in is simply being with friends? And I think people are like that too, which is like, I want friends that talk about real things and that’s what I want a friend group to do. I think being open and honest with your friends and not hiding these things is really important right now.


And being able to say like, “This is so normal.” There are no normal pandemic emotions, right? You can’t say, “What is the typical reaction to a pandemic?” Who knows? So, you can’t judge yourself for anything you’re feeling. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety – all of it is fair game. I think that what you need to be able to do is say like, “This is what’s going on with me. This is what I’m feeling.” Say that to friends, say that to family.


Say that to who you feel comfortable with and have it out in the open. We should be talking about this stuff. For me as a mental health provider, being able to say that stuff out loud is really the first step as a culture, normalizing this kind of language, normalizing these conversations, because everybody’s really going through something and has feelings about it. From a boss to the employee, from your parent to the child, literally everyone has something they’re struggling with.


I think that people try to keep these boundaries of power and keep these separations of like, “This is what’s going on with me. You don’t get to know about it. And this is what’s going on with me, and you don’t get to know about it.” And that’s not helpful. Workplaces are better when people are open. Leadership is better when people are vulnerable. All of those things need to be on the table.


I’m not saying you need to go like, “Hi, employees!” I just went to my psychiatrist, and they gave me Lexapro. That’s what my day was like. I’m not saying you need to do that. I’m saying as a boss, you’re a better boss to say, “This has been really hard on all of us, and I want you to know this is a space that we’re okay with you talking about how this is hard.”


It doesn’t mean you have to say, “Here are all my psychiatric illnesses,” but it does mean that emotions are okay. This space is an okay space to talk about it, and that’s what brings people together because everybody’s struggling and vulnerability binds you. And I think that’s how you process this stuff, because it’s still going. It’s going to still go. Trauma has no timeline. People will start to feel some of this stuff in years from now, not just months. People don’t like to think about that, but it’s completely true.

We shut off a lot of this stuff, especially when we’re just sort of like adrenaline going and going. People in this kind of work that you’re in, who have to keep advocating and keeping front-line workers or keep doing what they’re doing, often don’t get to check in with themselves because they have so much other stuff to do.


So, they’re like, “What about that, and what about that?” And by the time they check in with themselves it’s like three years later, and then they start to have all these reactions. Then they’re like, “Where did that come from?” Turns out three years ago. That’s totally okay, but it’s something to remember that this isn’t something that just happens, leaves, and is gone. This is something that will probably be with us for a while, and that’s something that we just need to get used to talking about.


Allyn:                          So, one thing that ambassador Andrew Young says – he was a Lieutenant to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King – he said that we’d like to talk about and look back at the black and white footage and really lionize and romanticize what it was like to be at that moment. But what he said was so many of those people ended up broken after that.


So, many of those people ended up struggling with demons and addictions and all types of things that followed them after the 50s and 60s, after that moment. The rest of us, we’ve essentially trapped them in that moment. We’ve trapped them in those videos. We’ve trapped them in that time.


What is the message … Through comedy, through therapy, through whatever that we should be sending to people who are front-line workers in COVID-19? People who are on the front lines advocating for change, what’s the message that we need to be able to deliver to them about … Look, to your point, Jessi, this will follow you if you don’t deal with it properly. What should we be saying to them right now?


Dr. Jessi:                     I would say a couple of things. You’re human and we see you. We value everything that you do, but you also need to take care of yourself. I think that’s a very important thing that they should know – their feelings matter. And even though they are very much caring about other people, they need to realize that their feelings are part of the equation.


Whatever they’re feeling should be expressed out loud, given time to process, whatever. Their feelings are valid, normal, and matter. Advocacy is the kind of thing where if you’re the person telling the story, I think a lot about people who are survivors and have to tell their story of being a survivor over and over as part of their advocacy. Maybe they were ready because they felt ready, but maybe not everyone is, and sort of was pushed into it because they rose to the occasion when asked. Right?


I think it is really hard to be that kind of advocate were you’re advocating through the use of your personal story. I think you also need to realize; people aren’t always ready to talk about their traumas, and they often do it to help others. When you’re in an advocacy organization, and really shepherding a lot of these people to talk, be able to also check in with them and make sure they’re okay.


I think that’s really important. Make sure that they are given space to process. Make sure that they are feeling okay having been thrust in the spotlight to talk about something that maybe they would have waited four or five years to process, but they’re processing not just now, but in front of hundreds and thousands of people to try to make change.


I think that happens a lot for all sorts of policy advocacy, and we take for granted how hard it is for people to tell these stories that have so, so much pain, just because they want change. Like, my father died of COVID and now I’m going to talk about it. That happened a month ago for someone, and they’re going to get up and talk about it. That’s hard, but they do it because they want to make change. I think that’s something we have to be aware of as people in this field, to really validate what that experience is like and how hard it is.


I think that, “There’s no wrong time to get help” is something I always tell people. You can always talk to someone. We think that we can handle it ourselves because our friends tend to be pretty open. Almost all my friends are therapists, and so I think that it’s very easy to go, “Well, I talk to my friends, and my friends are therapists.


Why do I need a therapist?” I need a therapist because my friends are my friends, and they should be my friends. I think it’s really important that we realize that we say, “Our friends are our friends, and they should remain that way.” It’s great that they have skills, and they’re better listeners, and they’re okay with a lot of this stuff, and they’re open about a lot of this stuff, but if you want a place that’s truly yours and truly neutral and really actually processing, get help. It’s okay.


There’s no wrong time to get help. It’s not a weakness to get help. It frankly helps you get through and be a better advocate, because you have so much more to give. You’re more reflective of where you’re coming from. I mean, they encourage it in psychiatry training. I’ve done it all the way through. I go weekly now. It gets me through COVID. If I didn’t have it, it would be very obvious. I think it’s something I would recommend to everybody. I would get it now before all of the therapists get a mad rush to using them when everybody realizes they’re sad and lonely, and that this has been a huge effect on them.


Allyn:                          Kenny, anything to add?


Kenny:                        Reach the people who are going at like a hundred miles per hour. I would hope that they’re taking care of themselves, but I don’t know if they even have the time to listen to a podcast. When we switched to mandatory telework a few months ago, I was like, “What, we’re working from home?” I was like, “Oh, this isn’t slowing down because COVID-19 is going to affect civil rights. Police violence is going to continue, all this stuff.” It was like, wow, we really kept going. I just love seeing people. They’re working so hard. But I really do hope that we’re taking care of ourselves as much as we’re working too.


Allyn:                          Thanks again to Kenny and Dr. Gold for joining us on the Pod Squad. Coming up, we have a special guest – author, publisher, veteran, and heart healer, Rob Hill, Sr. – don’t go anywhere.


Welcome back to Pod for the Cause, where we’re talking all about the psychological impacts of COVID, especially in communities of color. Earlier this month, I sat down with a very special guest – author, publisher, veteran, and heart healer, Rob Hill, Sr. – Rob Hill, Sr., welcome to the show.


Rob:                            Thank you. Thank you for having me.


Allyn:                          First off, how are you doing today?


Rob:                            I’m doing well. It’s been a great morning so far, and now I’m here with you. How about yourself?


Allyn:                          Doing all right. Doing all right. Just trying to pay attention to all the stuff that’s happening in the world, and there’s a lot that’s happening around us.


Rob:                            Yes it is. Yes it is.


Allyn:                          I used to deliver a newspaper. It was an evening newspaper. That was how you got your news every day, that and the evening news. Once a day, you would see what’s going on. But now we’re bombarded with the news coming at us from all directions, and we have to put a filter on it, I think.


Rob:                            You’re not prepared for what’s going to pop up. You can be scrolling casually and then this topic pops up and then this video shows and then this person has a link. Ultimately, your time is not yours anymore. People are masterful content creators, and when they say they want to grab your eyes and time, they really intend to do so.


Allyn:                          Well, that’s how all of this has changed. It used to be that certain people got to decide what content was created, who was a documentarian and who was – but now everybody with a phone can make a documentary.


Rob:                            Exactly, and they can upload it instantly. It’s very hard to keep up with. But the times are changing, I think for good. I was listening to an interview the other day with Laurence Fishburne and a friend of mine. They were talking about how streaming has impacted the film world and how they distribute things and how they tell stories, but ultimately I think that it’s going to allow for more stories to be told. We are going to get a chance to see more stories that we relate to, see more individuals that identify with us, and hopefully build a much calmer place that’s reflective of what I think people really want, which is sharing, community, giving, and much less confusion.


Allyn:                          With the proliferation of all this content and all of the streaming, we have the opportunity to be more informed than we’ve ever been before, but we also have the opportunity to be exposed to more traumatic events than ever before. Now we’re trying to be more cautious about, don’t retweet videos of traumatic black experiences against black lives. Can you talk a little about, what is the effect of when are constantly exposed to these videos that are informing us about what’s happening in our world, but are also traumatizing us at the same time?


Rob:                            Yeah. I was about to say, without a doubt, it’s traumatic. We all have natural pressures that come with just being alive. But when you start to feel preyed upon, when you start to feel attacked, when you start to hear story upon story of how people’s safety has been violated either by government, either by citizen, either by neighbor, family … You hear constant stories of dysfunction and it is hard not to look at your place in this and decide, “Am I helpless when I am getting maybe on Twitter to share?” It seems that there’s an endless amount of examples of police brutality against black men. Ultimately it’s like, I’m never ready for it. I am never ready.


I was talking to a friend last night and Mr. Jacob was attacked. We both said we didn’t watch the video. It’s getting to the point where I can’t even watch it, much less retweet it. I’m mindful of what I share, just because I don’t want to be the person throwing something in somebody’s day that has them pulling over to the side of the road having to regather themselves. I would much rather try to provide the type of content that lets people keep going.


Allyn:                          Now, we’ve mentioned this on Pod for the Cause before, but millions of people have taken to the streets because of legacy injustices that continue to play out. They’re playing out on social media. They’re playing out on the news. They’re playing out in our homes. It’s clear that there’s a lot that’s broken about America. Now, you spend a lot of time writing and talking about love and talking about the heart and talking about broken hearts. It’s clear that amid all the things that are broken about this country, that America has a broken heart. It’s had a broken heart for a long time. The question is, how does a nation heal a broken heart?


Rob:                            There are several ways to approach the situation, but I think our nation has had an extreme problem with repression and denial, in the sense that we don’t want to really atone, it appears, and it has become apparent that some change and some shifts are necessary. So, when we talk about healing, I’ve developed a process I like to call “TRUCE”, which is like ending the personal war with self. But I believe we need to, in this affinity we have with dysfunction, and calling it love and calling it order and calling it democracy and calling it process, and calling it all these things that it’s not, I think we maybe need to shift towards a more well-rounded view of justice.


So, when we talk about healing as a nation, for me, I read something when I was in the Navy that I thought was extremely powerful. It says, “A nation can rise no higher than its women.” And I think we are seeing that it is very important to elevate our women in every field.


The 1973 presidential election was very important. We had a powerful candidate, Shirley Chisholm, and she talked about how it was nearly impossible for her to get the collective support of the black caucus. She had Ron Dellums in California, and she had another delegate in Maryland, but ultimately, this is off the murders of Medgar Evans, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and then we have a black woman right here after the Civil Rights Bill is passed, no more than eight years, and she couldn’t get even the support of our community.


And their view was that, “We need to put our dollars where we actually have a chance.” And I think we need to stop disqualifying those who have the passion and commitment for service just because they may not have the dollars that this typical system has chased. So, as a country, we need to, I guess, dial back on some of our desires and dial up our commitment to service, and seeing the true value in people. Because I feel like we just have a conflict of morals, and we aren’t willing to commit to the true values that we say make America great.


Allyn:                          Now, Rob, I saw that you recently tweeted, “You can resist change in difficult times and remain the same, or you can choose to evolve, adapt and become better than you’ve ever been.” The question is, how do you do that? Particularly during a period of global turmoil or racial reckoning, during a pandemic, how do you actually do that?


Rob:                            I mentioned the acronym that I kind of developed, “TRUCE”, earlier, and the acronym stands for Trust, Resolve or Resolution, Understanding, Clarity, and then Evolution. And ultimately, in this time, I have been tasked, spiritually, I believe, to burrow in, to learn, to observe, to write, to record. And my suggestion to everyone has been to check with themselves. There has to be some type of stillness inside that guides you in the midst of all this, and I use the word again, dysfunction.


I use that because we are supposed to be functioning properly. We are supposed to be loving and sharing and growing and learning and evolving. And there aren’t, to me, supposed to be as many obstacles as we place before us. But without trust, without that first step of having an honest, trusting relationship with self, we really can’t do that external relationship with others. The resolve or the resolution, there is this sense that 2020 has robbed us. And my suggestion is not to take on that mentality.


Allyn:                          What mentality should they take on?


Rob:                            A mentality that says that, “Even though I may not see a perfect landscape, there is a chance for me to still advance.” See, for me, in this time, I’ve taken my father, my biological father, fishing two times this summer. We have never hung out two times in a summer in my life. But both these times, my son was there with us. Ultimately, you have to look up and see what life is asking you to do today. We all are going to have to live in real time. We’ve set these annual holidays, annual vacation days, and everything’s been disrupted. So, we have to have some resolve about a new way and a better way coming ahead. But it’s only going to come ahead if we become better people.


I was listening to a video and it said, “Politicians are likely a representation of us, and ultimately, when we become better people, we’ll have better representation.” I think that that is a generalization, right? Like maybe a 10,000-foot view, but it has some truth in it, in a sense that, when we take better care of ourselves, the things around us, our environment, improves.


So, the next step is understanding. So, we have trust, resolve or resolution, and then we have understanding. Understanding in this time is challenging everyone to be a student of life. We don’t know what we thought we knew. It’s not perfected like we thought it would be. The things that we thought were set in stone, maybe they’re not.


Can we do some unlearning and relearning? The quote that I put out earlier in this year is that, “Real loving is going to take some relearning.” We have decided that the normal way is okay, but it’s made many people uncomfortable. We have decided that the usual way, the status quo is good enough, but it’s really made women feel inferior, unprotected, and not supported. We have to gain some new understanding, so we can operate in a much more loving capacity.


We have clarity, and I feel like clarity is a choice of perspective. There’s a good movie called Vantage Point, and in it, it shows multiple views of one thing happening. And I challenge people to shift in their vantage point to one that allows them to see the fruit, even in this time, because it is there. They say wherever there is threat, there’s also opportunity. So, anything that may be threatened in your life, in this time – see the opportunity.


Is it a task for you to get stronger? Is it a task for you to become a bit softer in some areas? Is it a task for you to become more knowledgeable? Is it a task for you to listen more? Is it a task for you to serve more? If that thing that you see bothering you constantly, every day on every timeline that you see an ad about it, blah, blah, blah. It’s an opportunity for you to step up and solve it because that leads us to the final step, which is evolution.


Ultimately, the most important question in evolution is what are you pretending you can’t do? That’s my challenge to people in the TRUCE, in that ending of fighting, because I think that fight is really is just a repression. It’s, “I think that I’m going to be judged. I think I’m not going to be supportive. I think I’m going to fail.” Well, so what? You get another chance after that if you believe you deserve more. I mean, ultimately, that’s the attitude I try to push with TRUCE.


And that’s my suggestion to us as a people in this time because the only thing that is certain isn’t certainty, and that’s been true far before COVID times.


Allyn:                          Rob, I saw recently that you made a list of 10 recent mistakes you’ve made. As I went through the list, I saw number six was, “I helped myself into a hole.” You said the takeaway from that was, “You’re never really helping anybody if you’re hurting yourself trying to do it.” You also wrote to operate within your means emotionally, spiritually, and socially. So, the question is, how do you operate within your means? What happens if you don’t, and how do you get yourself out of that hole?


Rob:                            There’s this quote from Bishop T. D. Jakes and it says, “People love at their capacity.” Some people have a pint and others have a gallon, and to expect those who have a pint to love you at your gallon capacity would really be unfair. So, when I talk about helping myself into a hole, I was very giving with my resources, and ultimately, I realized that I was doing it to earn love. There was a certain shift in my life where I realized that love really needs no qualifiers. I am deserving just because I’m here.


Ultimately, that little shift allowed me to be loved back, right? I started to feel depleted. That hole I am referring to is the philosophy behind my book The Missing Piece was I just felt like everything was missing. The life and the system had stolen my chance to have my dad, and it had robbed me of my chance to be in Virginia with my family – feeling robbed of what was due.


I had to come to the fortuitous attitude which is that, what’s meant for me will not miss me. There are givers and takers in this world, but when I take good care of myself, I attract those who want to be good to me as well. And when I take poor care of myself, I ultimately attract those who will misuse me. But it’s not them so much, it’s me misusing myself, and ultimately putting myself in a position to be unloved.

Ultimately, I know that love is all action in service, but these things should not be the qualities for you to see my true value. But I think that that hole I put myself in was ultimately just self-inflicted. It was just self-inflicted. That’s all.


I am embarking on a journey where I’m talking to individuals about maintaining their mental check and balance, and it is all about how we are able to stay healthy and still serve and be productive in the world. My suggestion is to develop a self-care regimen because I think that a takeaway from that point is necessary.


What are you doing each morning to feed yourself? What are you thinking about? How are you refilling your cup? I’m not going to say we’re not going to fall back in holes. I fall in holes sometimes, but at least you’ll know how to get out. And ultimately, you’ll probably know how to avoid future ones much better.


Allyn:                          Rob Hill Sr., Thank you for joining Pod for the Cause.


Rob:                            Thank you. I appreciate you having me.


Allyn:                          Coming up, I’ll hit you with some real talk dirt on my Can I Get a Witness segment where I get a few things off my chest in three minutes or less.


Welcome back to Pod for the Cause where we’ve been talking all about the psychological impacts of COVID, especially in communities of color. And between the Pod Squad and Rob Hill Sr., I have a few things I want to say.


Millions are currently fighting for the health of Americans, while millions are fighting for the health of America. This is all happening at the same time. And while so many people are out in the streets or in the front lines, there’s a part of the conversation that’s fallen to the wayside, and that is the people on the front lines taking care of themselves.


This is a quick message, but it’s an important one. We have to take care of ourselves in order to be of service to other people. We have to self-care in order to care for our communities, to care for our nation, and to care for our world. Failing to do so, consistently putting on the mask of others before we put on the mask of ourselves will shorten our ability to be of use to the movement, to be of use to our community, to be of use to our neighbors and friends and family.


So, this is a short, Can I Get a Witness message. Self-care, take care of yourself. Don’t do what Dr. Jessi Gold mentioned in her article of, “Setting ourselves on fire just to keep other people warm.” If we are committed to this movement for the long term, we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. Can I get a witness?


Thank you for listening to Pod for the Cause, the official podcast of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. For more information, please visit civilrights.org, and to connect with us, hit us up on Instagram and Twitter @podforthecause. Be sure to subscribe to our show on your favorite podcast app, and leave a five-star review. Until then, for Pod for the Cause, I’m Allyn Brooks-LaSure. Stay strong, and keep hope alive.