The first good habit is to find mastery in your environment. What does this mean? We all need to know that we have a sense of control and superiority in our life. This could be as small as making up your bed, re-decorating your room, or as big as investing in a talent that you have. When you feel good about what you can produce you feel calm, secure, safe, and confident in your life.
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sasha Jackson, LCSW.
Sasha Jackson, LCSW, is an author and licensed therapist who specializes in helping individuals build empowerment. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a Master of Social Work degree. In her practice, she has helped individuals work through trauma, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. Her overall mission is to help individuals cultivate mental wellness and destigmatize mental health disorders.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in California’s Central Valley. The town was small. One high school, two grocery stores, and you pretty much knew everyone. I was involved in sports, marching band, girl scouts, and anything else my parents could find to entertain me. Since I was little, I had always been on the academic track. That is when my interest to be in a helping profession grew. At first, I wanted to be a pediatrician, veterinarian, or even a lawyer. I never thought about becoming a therapist, but my passion to be a humanitarian never simmered out. I am the only child, and I was raised with both of my parents until they divorced when I was 16 years old. That was tough, but everything taught me the importance of growth and acceptance. Looking back, I can see how my past has influenced my therapeutic style and how I help individuals find their innate strength.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Like I mentioned, I have always been interested in the helping profession. I don’t think it was just one person who inspired me to go into this field but many experiences. A pivotal experience was working with the foster children population. Helping them to work through and overcome their history of trauma pushed me to hone into my specialty. Empowerment allowed them to build resilience, redemption, and reclaim their lives. It was truly inspirational. From that point, I knew that I needed to continue to help people find their voice and heal from their past. Another aspect that influenced my career was understanding the importance of including spirituality. Diving into research on the laws of the universe, reading Napoleon Hill, and even following the teachings of Abraham Hicks helped me understand the power of the mind. More importantly, the benefits of integrating this information with my knowledge of psychiatry.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My mother and father are both key factors in my success. They have walked with me through my journey of self-discovery. In return, it has allowed me to challenge and push my limits to what I can accomplish. In a sense, my parents have been my “therapist” and provided me the space to grow into the person I am today. Another way my parents supported me was to help me build confidence within myself. The ability to have confidence meant that I could trust myself in decision making and risk-taking. I can honestly say this aspect of myself has helped me develop unique interventions to help my clients heal and become empowered.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
A funny story that I will never forget is when I was preparing a therapy session with a kid. I believe they were around 5 or 6 years old. I was pretty nervous since I did not have that much experience working with children. My mind was distracted by the need to do everything just right. I began walking towards the kid-size table and chairs to start the session. I must have totally miscalculated the chair from the height of my heels because I missed and fell flat on my bottom. I was stunned, and my kiddo was overwhelmed with laughter. That broke the ice. The biggest lesson I learned that day that it is fine if you’re not perfect. The best times come in life from the least expected moments. Lastly, look before you sit.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I like books that promote self-awareness and help you tap into your own power. A book that has made a significant impact professionally and personally is The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. This book resonated with me because it allowed me to expand my perspective in two ways. First, by learning how to identify barriers that are causing conflict. Second, on how to tap into our strengths as human beings. One of the many lessons I learned from this book is our innate need for community and that most people are extroverts. As an introvert, this was vital knowledge that allowed me to find better solutions for interpersonal conflict. I discovered ways to help my clients find balance when building a relationship with themselves and others.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite quote is “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”. This quote resonates with me because it reminds me of the importance of personal power and radical acceptance. I use this quote to remind me to focus on what I can create versus what I cannot control. Creation mode helps you to feel confident in your environment and ability to problem solve. When you focus on the issues you cannot control you start to feel powerless and helpless. In times of uncertainty and chaos, remind yourself of what you can do versus what you cannot do.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I currently just finished working on my journal titled Beautiful Creator. It is now available on Amazon. It is a 90-day journal that will awaken your power and teach you how to take control of your life. The journal helps individuals create awareness around the barriers in their life. It assists them with being more in alignment with their true self. Lastly, it teaches them how to take the action needed to be successful. This journal will help anyone on their path of healing and empowerment.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In our work, we talk alot about cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The first good habit is to find mastery in your environment. What does this mean? We all need to know that we have a sense of control and superiority in our life. This could be as small as making up your bed, re-decorating your room, or as big as investing in a talent that you have. When you feel good about what you can produce you feel calm, secure, safe, and confident in your life. A second good habit is to journal about your strengths, talents, skills, etc. When you remind yourself of how much you have to offer, what you like to do, and what you are good at it makes you feel good. When you feel good about yourself it automatically improves your mood. The last good habit is to make a vision board. This can be a yearly or monthly project, but the goal is to see the bigger picture. Everyday life can be overwhelming and draining when you don’t see the future. A vision board helps instill hope, commitment, and motivation in your future self.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I find self-love, gratitude, and compassion guided meditation to be essential in building mental wellness. In a world where we are constantly being bombarded to change, alter, or fix. It is nice to be reminded that we can just be. This type of meditation can help you in 3 ways. First, it helps you to recognize that love and compassion are a person’s intrinsic worth and that we all deserve it. Second, it allows you to see the positive moments in your life and the abundance that already exists. Sometimes we only pay attention to what we lack and not what we already have. When you can switch your perspective, you can reach a level of peace and contentment. Lastly, this type of meditation is an instant mood boost. When you can find value and positivity in your life you increase your self-esteem, confidence, and overall joy.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The first good habit that you can do is simple. Get up and move! You don’t have to start a rigorous exercise regimen or join a gym. However, it is important to incorporate movement in your life in any way you can. This can be as simple as doing the dishes, taking your pet out for a walk, walking up and down your stairs, or anything else that you can think of. Movement allows you to feel productive which is an automatic mood boost. A second good habit is to set daily alerts or reminders that will prompt you to move. Make the reminders fun and personal to your goal of physical wellness. I find it helpful to use reminders such as “You got this!”, “Hey, You! It’s time to do something loving/caring/fun”, or “Look at what you did today! Great job!”. Anything that signals you to move or already acknowledges the progress you made. The last good habit for physical wellness is to remember “I can accept myself as I am and still have the desire to change”. Sometimes we cannot commit to physical wellness because it is not coming from a place of love. Physical wellness does not mean you are not good enough or you need to change. However, it is an action of self-love and commitment to your overall well-being.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating?
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? The main barrier that I see with implementing habits is that a person’s thoughts are not in sync with the action they are trying to do. If you want to eat healthily but you think, “ I am not sure I can actually commit to this” or “ I am not sure if this is important.” Then it will be hard to follow through on a plan of action. Before you commit to an action write down all the thoughts that will help reinforce the behavior you are trying to do. You can use these thoughts as affirmations or mantras to help you follow through on your desired course of action. Find beliefs that genuinely resonate with you. If you find generic reasons such as the information you probably already know then this will not work. When we can find information that is truly valuable to us, then we are more likely to apply to our lives.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The first good habit for optimum emotional wellness is to learn how to validate your feelings. Validation means you acknowledge the importance of your experience and your right to feel the way you do. It also means you can trust yourself to know when you feel bad or upset. It is hard to have emotional wellness when you negate how you feel or dismiss your emotions. To help you validate your emotions start identifying how you feel and why your feelings are important. An example is “ I feel frustrated that I missed my deadline” and “ I have a right to feel frustrated because it was important to me”. A second good habit you can do is find a creative outlet to process your feelings. Think about journaling, painting, drawing, singing, dancing, crafts, exercise, meditation, or anything else. Everyone processes their feelings differently. It is essential to find your personal style to have a space to let go and validate your feelings. The last good habit is to find an emotional support person or system. This can be a friend, family member, therapist, group, teacher, a pet, or anyone else you trust. This person should be someone who is non-judgmental, a person you can vent to, can help validate your experience, and allow you to discuss your emotions openly.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
I have always heard the saying that it takes more energy to frown than smile. When you are upset, mad, or frowning it takes mental energy that can be draining. Your mind is consumed with what is going wrong and what is not working for you. On the other hand, when you smile you are telling yourself that things are okay. You are enjoying the moment, feel safe, and feel good. Identify thoughts, memories, and behaviors that make you smile. Try to do one thing that can make you smile each day. You will see a drastic improvement in your overall emotional wellness.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The first good habit to promote spiritual wellness is to identify what spirituality means to you and the ways you can practice it. Spirituality can mean incorporating your religion, having rituals, meditation, being out in nature, using candles or crystals, prayer, or anything else you desire. The key is that spirituality allows you to experience a sense of calm and helps you achieve a holistic perspective about life. The next good habit is to create a daily routine in which to incorporate your spiritual practice. I have clients that do this in the morning or right before bedtime to help promote appreciation and gratitude in their life. They say it helps them tap into a “higher power and helps them focus on their purpose”. The last habit that you can do is to find ways to incorporate water in your life to help with rejuvenation and replenishment. Think about taking a shower, walking or sitting by the water, swimming, or getting a miniature waterfall as home décor. Water helps you wash away negative feelings, calms you down, and provides a sense of renewal.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
I think nature is a great way to cultivate your spiritual wellness. It allows you to step outside your own busy world and look at life differently. We forget that mountains, trees, the babbling lakes go on just fine without social media or constant noise. It can be relaxing to know that you are so small against the enormous backdrop of the world. Lastly, being in nature allows you to let go of your thoughts. You can just be without the urgency of doing something.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to continue to influence people to be open about the struggles of mental health and the need for mental wellness. It’s amazing to see more celebrities, social media posts, tik-toks, and more positive media coverage on the need for mental health care. If people can continue to share their stories, then finding support in their journey of healing will be easier
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would be honored and would love to have brunch with Taraji P. Henson. She has been an advocate for mental health and continues to stay open about her personal struggles while providing a path of hope for others. I admire her fearlessness, resilience, and continuous desire to grow as a businesswoman.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can contact me at www.SashaJacksonLCSW.com, on Instagram @I_Am_SashaJackson, or on LinkedIn at Sasha Jackson, MSW, LCSW.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.