Meet Nikia Phoenix. You may recognize her face from TV. Nikia has appeared in magazines, billboards, and many commercials as a model and actress, but she's also an agent for social change and conscious living. To deal with her struggles and debilitating anxiety, she strove for a deeper spiritual connection. Nikia became a Reiki Master, meditation practitioner and founded Black Girl Beautiful, a safe space that celebrates Black women. Now, Nikia chats with Mae Jones founder Kristen Turner to share more about the journey to self-love and healing.
KT: People are making resolutions at this time of year. Everyone's feeling that "New year. New me." vibe, but the thought of making and keeping a "resolution" can be overwhelming and so stressful. How can we focus on making personal changes without all of the pressure?
NP: I think it's about living in the moment and making a commitment to yourself every day. We often set these lofty and unachievable goals without the blueprint to exactly how we're supposed to accomplish these things. Relieve the pressure by coming up with a goal you can chip away at daily, making you feel good about yourself. Also, where is this pressure coming from? Like seriously. Ask yourself: who are you trying to please, yourself or others? Your pressure, expectations- it's self-inflicted. You don't have to make resolutions that you don't genuinely want or that are impossible to achieve. Do what brings you joy.
Photos by Shelby Gordon
KT: I love following you on Instagram! The morning affirmations you share with your audience both motivate and inspire me. It speaks to how powerful words are. Why do the words that we tell ourselves about ourselves matter?
NP: This is the most important relationship you will ever have. Period. Our conversations with self are paramount to our well-being. When you speak negatively to and about yourself, it's like you're inviting others to talk down to you. Your self-talk sets the bar. And often, that negative voice inside isn't even your voice, but the echoes from your childhood that you've allowed to take up space in your psyche. Because why would you ever speak unlovingly to yourself? Self-love all begins and ends with YOU. Shower yourself with light and kindness. Tenderness. Love.
KT: You're a meditation leader and even host a 5-day challenge for people like me who need a little help learning to meditate. What are the benefits of making this practice part of our everyday life?
NP: Ooo where shall I start? I'm literally giggling and shimmying as I answer. The benefits of meditation are astounding and yet so real. If you're looking for a way to calm your nerves, improve focus and attention, and promote a healthy immune system, then definitely meditate. Want to increase the abundance in your life? Meditate. Want to sleep better? Meditate. Medication can remedy so many of the ailments and conditions we complain about. Your mind, body, and spirit are asking you to do the simplest thing to relieve your stress, so do it. Make it an integral part of your day, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Meditating is a sacred ritual, not a task or a chore. It's a way for you to love on yourself gently and have a great impact. I encourage you to try, even if just for a few seconds. Once you stop with the negative self-talk and trying to be perfect about it, you will be glad you did it.
KT: You know how when we're on an airplane and during the safety instructions before we take off the flight attendants tell us that in case of an emergency, we should "put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others"... I feel like that's a metaphor for life. In your opinion, what does self-care look like and what does it mean to put yourself first truly?
NP: You know, as Black women, we were not taught to take care of ourselves first. That's looked at as selfish. It's a sin. Heaven forbid you show yourself love and put yourself first. That's not what our grandmothers did and that's not what they passed down to our mamas. We learned by example that we matter but not as much as everyone else. Or that our worth is based on accomplishments. Ahem, no wonder so many of us are overachievers. We're vying for someone's love and attention instead of knowing that we're good all by our damn selves. And you know why we're good? Because we exist. Before I make any decision, I literally ask myself, "girl, you cool with this?" If there's hesitation or if I'm more concerned with how someone else will receive my decision, I check myself. Self-care is checking in with myself regularly. It's stopping to smell the flowers. It's giving my inner child more playtime. All of the activities that are liberating and freeing that our foremothers couldn't do, I gladly do! I love on myself through and through.
KT: As we walk into the new year, do you have any words of encouragement for someone who may be starting on their healing and personal growth journey?
NP: Be gentle when you need nurturing and real when you need someone to give you a side-eye. This may get ugly. You may backslide. Don't beat yourself up about it. Come back and commit again and again. Speak to yourself with tenderness. When you feel triggered, get to the root of why you feel that way. Dig until you're so exposed that you see who you are at your core. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. I know this goes against what most of us have been shown about the strong Black woman. Any preconceived notions in your head about who you're supposed to be, burn them. As you heal, you may discover the real you that's been hiding behind the facade. And I know she is a divine being. Have faith in yourself, be honest and kind, and you will triumph!
Believe in yourself, Black woman. The stars aligned when you were created. Know that you are divinity walking. You are the personification of majesty. Keep your head up and your heart full.