In this edition of Mental Health is Wealth, we explore upleveling mindsets through brain science, data and the human collective.
By Shonté Jovan Taylor, M.S.(c), Ph.D.(c), Feature photo by Photo by Jackie Parker
Upleveling the female mindset, life and professional realms is a journey. In the evolving landscape of gender equality, drawing inspiration from those who bravely paved the way is crucial. As a teenager in the ’90s, I witnessed Anita Hill’s courageous act of speaking out about her experience of sexual harassment at the hands of Clarence Thomas, a nominee for the highest court. Reflecting today, it sheds light on the uphill battle women have fought for decades to continuously “uplevel.” In an unjust society, women face the ongoing struggle of being heard and believed. They also strive to find the courage, like Hill, to elevate in different domains. Maya Angelou’s powerful words “and still I rise” come to mind to aid in overcoming these challenges.
But what does rising or “upleveling” mean for women today and beyond? How do we ascend across mental, physical, emotional and financial realms while staying true to ourselves and avoiding burnout?
Here are few ways to go about it:
Rethink Upleveling As Holistic: Beyond Corporate Paradigms
The concept and mindset of upleveling must continue to evolve and progress. It is not just a popular gaming term or corporate jargon, but a transformative journey. It’s about gathering strength from personal and collective stories and embracing growth and authenticity. Upleveling must defy a society that underestimates women. It’s realizing that even in the face of adversity, we can rise, united and empowered.
Let’s reimagine it as a holistic journey embracing every aspect of a woman’s life beyond just career and financial advancement. It includes health, relationships, authenticity and intentionality.
Expanding our understanding of upleveling allows for inclusivity. Whether it’s a stay-at-home mom prioritizing self-care, a hospitality worker valuing their role in creating a welcoming environment or simply someone seeking to redecorate their bedroom to bring peace and inspiration, we can collectively recognize the significance. Upleveling has a yin-yang dynamic; it requires letting go of some aspects of our lives. By letting go, we empower other aspects of our lives by harmonizing our journey of growth.
Upleveling Is Ignited by the Brain
The neural underpinnings of this journey are fascinating and important to consider. The brain resists stagnation; it craves novelty, growth and change. When we find ourselves stuck, whether in a tedious job or a stifling routine, the brain registers discomfort. Restlessness, dissatisfaction and even guilt can emerge. It’s our internal readiness to explore the next level of self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At its core, upleveling urges us to embrace authenticity and operate within and explore new possibilities of our strengths, fostering a state of thriving rather than merely surviving.
Upleveling Without Overwhelm or Isolation
Let’s dispel the misconception that upleveling is synonymous with shouldering more responsibilities. Women already face the burden of proving themselves and battling imposter syndrome. By reframing it as a transformative journey, we can forge the link between reducing disparities and advancing equality. Having a growth mindset empowers the personal improvement journey and uplifts communities, rather than fixating on task accumulation.
Upleveling is not a solo expedition; collaboration is key for social humans. Girls and women often hesitate to seek help, which can lead to loneliness—a recognized public health crisis. Loneliness impacts individuals and society, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression and anxiety. Therefore, upleveling should involve reducing loneliness by fostering positive relationships and social connections, on both personal and systemic levels.
Advocates, regardless of gender, are key in supporting women’s advancement through social and collaborative forces at all ages and in societal contexts. In Austin, companies like Home Depot collaborate with community leaders to uplift neighborhoods. Rose Smith, the founder of Black Women in Business, empowers young minds through her annual back-to-school drives. Meanwhile, Matt Stephenson, the co-founder of Code2College, empowers female high schoolers to pursue STEAM fields through mentorship, internships and representation in computer science. Thus, upleveling at the community and future generational levels is crucial for girls and women to thrive at all stages of their journey.
The upleveling of the female mind and life is a transformative journey that transcends original societal confines and embraces holistic growth. It taps into the brain’s innate desire for novelty, encouraging us to seek authenticity, strength and collaboration. It challenges us to redefine success, bridge disparities and rewrite narratives fostering a world where women rise, not in isolation, but in unity. Not with shame and guilt, but with grace and understanding. As we journey forward, let us remember to uplevel our courage like Anita Hill and our wisdom like Maya Angelou, for it’s in their footsteps that we pave the way for generations to come and to continue to RISE.