It Starts With You!: A Personal Reflection (CBC RECAP)

It Starts With You!: A Personal Reflection (CBC RECAP)


“The journey begins within! “

“It Starts With You!” was the theme of the 43rd Annual Legislative Conference hosted by The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “It Starts With You”, exclaimed renowned speaker, healer and teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In a packed ballroom at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for Thursday’s Networking Luncheon, she wowed the audience with her personal stories of trauma and triumph. She laughed at herself, her human fallibility, her naiveté at life, and ultimately shared profoundly transformative stories of her healing. There were  many awesome nuggets she shared; I was taking notes like my life depended on it. Iyanla’s real message was that the start of any real change is inside of you. The “movement” of change must stir within the depths of your core to result in any lasting transformation.

“What are your purpose, protocols and plan?” Iyanla asked.
Purpose: What are you being called to do?
Protocols: “Your virtues, the values that govern your life. Your boundaries”
Plan: What is your strategy? Have you designed your map? Do you have and/or understand your “how?”

In addition to encouraging the crowd to think about their purpose, Iyanla shared her thoughts on other topics important to our life journeys.


One of the messages that really resonated with me was “knowing your boundaries” and learning how to say NO. How many of us are clear on what our boundaries are? How strong is your “NO?” She explained “boundaries require a strong NO so that you can have a real strong “YES”. I’ve learned (and am still learning) that the word “NO” is not a bad word. Some of us are so tied to how others will feel about us saying “NO”, that we disregard the impact and the affect that saying “YES” to them will have on us.


Another talking point of Iyanla’s was authenticity. “Be authentic”, she said. “Be clear about WHO you are. Be in integrity so that what you feel, say and do are aligned”. All I could muster was a loud, emphatic YESSSSSS accompanied by raised “receive-the-power” hands. No matter how many times I hear this sentiment,  I am reminded to maintain continuity and consistency of what I feel, what I say, and what I do.  If you notice imbalance in your life , I promise  you that one or more of these things are out of sync. Imbalance usually occurs when we focus on the wrong thing. As emphasized by Iyanala “we get so caught up in what’s wrong that we forget what’s right”. Isn’t that the truth?

Love & Forgiveness

Holding on to the hurt and pain of past trauma is a way to control what you don’t yet know how to manage. “Control is the #1 human addiction,” Iyanla shared. What? Yes! This had me standing, shouting in agreement and almost breaking out in praise dance. This hit me straight in my core. “That’s me,” I said. What about you? Can you relate?

Let me make this clear.

When your pain is so great, you are focused on the cause and not the cure; on the villain and not your victory.  You are denying yourself your deserved healing. You are trying to control the pain by creating blame and unconsciously affirming the shame and guilt to justify your “piss-osity” (an amazing word gifted to me by Iyanla  which describes a high-level of rage/anger. You’re welcome, I love it, too). Control is stifling and affirms a commitment to limitations.

Love coupled with her friend forgiveness will be two of the best tools to release yourself from the bondage of being right and instead, commit to the work of being free. Don’t you like how that sounds?  By making the choice to love and forgive those who have done wrong by you, you allow healing and transformation to be your ultimate focus.  This will lead you to the freedom you want and the life you deserve.  Remember- change starts with you!

Give these tips a try:

Say No: If you are unclear about your boundaries, if your “NO” isn’t strong enough and you are not getting a “YES” from your life, it’s time to strengthen your “NO” muscle. How? The only way to become comfortable standing in the power of your “NO” is with practice. Start saying it in the mirror. Practice it with different intonation, phonation and pitch. Let the word glide effortlessly without attachment to the outcome off your lips and into the universe. Allow the universe to receive your intention and return to you your desire.

Feel Your Fear & Move Forward Anyway: For those of you new to my work,  you may not know that I don’t believe in the concept of  fearlessness. My belief is that fear serves its purpose( if we let it) to propel us into our greatness. It’s confirmation that we are alive,  moving out of comfort and complacency and challenging ourselves to grow. There is a current movement of women who are daring to step out,  “feel their fear” and do their work while blazing trails and defying the myth of fearlessness. Join this movement and witness the positive changes that can happen in your life.

Examine Your Belief System: Your current reality is rooted deeply in your beliefs and perceptions.  These beliefs and perceptions may not be rooted in the truth. Be honest and ask yourself: “How is my current belief system serving me today?”  Is the answer something that you are willing to accept or does something need to change? If you are willing to examine your belief system, then you are on your way to empowered, fulfilled and truthful living.

Our guest contributor Amina Carter is the founder of Womansphere, a movement focused on empowering women to be their best selves. She can be found on Twitter at @womansphere.

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