In this social media driven world we live in, there is an overload of meme-able advice and commentary that comes from every direction. However, self-healing educator and mental wellness advocate Yasmine Cheyenne wants you to cut through the chatter. She’s built an online community that allows individuals to take control of their mental health, create boundaries, and cultivate healthy, joyful lives.
Early this year, Cheyenne launched The Sugar Jar® Community app. The inspiration for the app came just a week after she returned to work from maternity leave where she was immediately met with life’s demands. With piles of emails, new responsibilities of motherhood, and a number of people asking for her energy, she was beginning to feel depleted. “I looked at a jar of sugar in my kitchen and begin to like feel like [the jar],” she explains.
“There’s always a feeling when you go into your sugar jar of being very careful. I’m not trying to spill it because once you spill sugar, you can’t find it and it gets all over the place. And that’s how I felt,” she says. “I felt like I had people accessing me, and my energy was all over the place; kind of like sugar.”
The metaphor brought her clarity. “It was the perfect way for me to teach what I was already sharing about boundaries, like keeping a lid on your jar, being aware of who has access to you, and [the sugar jar] became a visual way to understand how we can check in with ourselves.”
Today, Cheyenne’s expertise has catapulted her into a leading voice within the wellness industry. We caught up with the author and speaker to have her share tips on how to keep our sugar jar full, simple ways to set clear boundaries, silencing our inner critic, and more.
ESSENCE: “Boundaries” has become a buzzword in recent years as folks learn how to set and maintain them in their relationship and even with themselves. For those who are still coming to understand what this means, what are some first steps that you would recommend to start creating healthy boundaries?
Yasmine Cheyenne: Boundaries are kind of the rules that we put in place that govern the way we show up and the way people are allowed to show up with us in the relationship we have. They’re also how we show up with ourselves.
The first thing that’s helpful with setting boundaries is recognizing that boundaries are not ultimatums, meaning they’re not an opportunity for you to tell people what they need to do or what they have to do, or else. Boundaries are actually an opportunity to create clear communication and understanding of what’s okay for you and what’s not. It’s important to understand other people are going to have boundaries too so compromise is also going to be important in the boundary setting process.
As humans, sometimes we can experience emotions that lead us down a loop of negative thought patterns. I think of it as our “inner critic.” How can we go about separating our emotions so they don’t become a part of our identity?
When those stories come up within us, I remind myself that that’s not me speaking. Sometimes we think it’s us because it’s within us. But there are so many people we may have come in contact with — family members, people who were supposed to be friends, teachers, who have spoken harsh, critical things to us that we’re still repeating within us as truth.
The last piece that I want to add is yes, it’s important to be our own cheerleaders, and really support ourselves, but lean on your community because your community is going to remind you, when you don’t have the word, of how much you fought to be where you are and really hold that space to support you when things get tough.
How can we keep our sugar jar full?
Make sure that you are scheduling joy into your life on a regular basis. Joy is the ‘sugar’ that fills us up. When we are taking care of ourselves by having boundaries in place, we have more time and availability to access joy when we’re overwhelmed. When are scattered everywhere and everyone has access to us, we don’t have time for joy because we’re overwhelmed, overbooked, and burnt out. But when we have boundaries in place, and we’re doing those check-ins with ourselves, we can access joy in a way that feels tangible every single day.
Sometimes it seems like there’s an onslaught of advice and encouragement for the dark chapters of our lives, but I often wonder about the other side of that. What advice would you give to someone who is coming out of the darkness and peace looks unfamiliar?
This is usually where scarcity can show up. The fear of am I gonna lose it? What am I going to do that’s going to make it go away? I think it’s important that we recognize that there’s always going to be an ebb and flow. You could be in a place of peace in your life and still have a tough day and understanding that it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong is an important place to start. In order to begin to maintain that peace, ease, and joy within you, remind yourself that you are a priority and that it’s important to put yourself first.
You ultimately want to ask yourself, how can I really allow myself to flourish by not getting in my own way? There will be those ebbs and flows and we don’t want to stop our growth or our journey out of fear of what might come and knock us off balance. Remind yourself that you got out of the darkness before and you’ll get out of it again.