Welcome to the first of our Pride blogs, featuring a series of our amazing guest speakers for the month. First up is Mr Rikki Beadle Blair MBE, an award-winning writer, director, actor, risk-taker, rule-breaker, and lifelong diversity crusader. He is also the editor of 'Black & Gay in the UK' and the artistic director of the multimedia production company Team Angelica. Rikki talks about the power of self-love for us all this Pride month and beyond.
My personal passion - besides making art and entertainment that matters while mentoring others to do the same - is encouraging others to a mindset of self-appreciation. Almost every cruel and foolish thing that happens in the world is committed by someone with low esteem overcompensating. Once you are happy in yourself, we simply don’t need to attack or belittle anyone else and we don’t feel so inclined to harm or obliterate ourselves. When we feel angry, it’s always our lives we are angry with; our sense of helplessness, ineffectiveness or insignificance. But of course, the only one who can change that feeling, is us.
This is work, though. Love ain’t for wimps. And self-love can take what feels like olympian resolve. But here’s the thing. We deserve it. And it’s the only thing that works. The fact is, if you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself, it’s impossible to have a truly helpful one with anyone or anything else. Beneficial possibly, in the short term. But not healthy. And definitely not in the long term.
So, this is why it's so exciting to work with people on developing new mindsets, reframing thought patterns and taking long, loving, courageously honest looks at our thoughts and actions and reframing them so they work for us. This requires building new mental skill sets, learning when to be generous and when to be firm, learning how to listen, learning when to speak up, challenging our exhausting patterns and our cosy victimhood, decluttering our lives and minds, tapping into healthy sources of energy and inspiration and learning how to use the two most powerful words in any language: yes and no. It's quite a list. But all one thing really - taking back control of our thinking, which is an art in itself. But we're worth it. And when you start getting the hang of it - here’s the best part - it’s actually fun.
Yes, fun. Self-appreciation is fun. Certainly more fun than self-hatred, despite the former’s oddly high levels of popularity. I love seeing the lightbulb light up over someone’s head and the realisation in their eyes as they begin to identify and own just how much power they have in their world. And I love it when it happens to me (it’s said that we teach what we need to learn - and that is sooooo true.) I love it when someone starts to get over their hang-ups and embraces the concept of self-love as the opposite of ego and the essence of humility and service. I love it when people regain their fire and their joy. And I love when they regain and refocus their passion. And its sheer joy to witness the moments when they realise the most basic and clear fact: that they belong in this world. That they are equal to everything and everyone, that they don’t need to defeat anyone to win or take anyone down to lift themselves up and that they have everything they need to build the life they want.