Picture it.

Does any one remember that scene in Runaway Bride when Coach Bob, Maggie’s fiance is trying to help her overcome her ‘flight response’ by using sports psychology? It’s a comical scene when Coach Bob practically carries Maggie down the isle; holding her like a puppeteer and telling her to visualize herself as the football traveling through the air towards the end zone. Geez… talk about speaking your own love language! It worked though. A few footsteps later while repeating a rehearsed mantra, Maggie, played by Julia Roberts, made it down that isle on her own alright! But walked into the arms of New York journalist Ike Graham, played by the ever-charming Richard Gere. Maybe Coach Bob should have been more careful of what he asked her to visualize. Tee hee.

Visualization is creating a mental picture of something. Jennifer Baumgartner Psy.D. from Psychology Today puts it a slightly different way:

Visualization is a cognitive tool accessing imagination to realize all aspects of an object, action or outcome. This may include recreating a mental sensory experience of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

We visualize all the time. That moment he proposes to your favourite song and you scream ‘yes’ or sinking that ball into the net for the winning goal with the roar of a crowd cheering you on… all of that is visualizing. Apparently, this same visualization can have profound effects on our fears and traumatic memories. The process of painting a mental picture where we are overcoming the fear, pain, issue or obstacle can help us actualize those same positive results in our real lives.

I remember the very first time someone told me to visualize (insert creepy psychiatrist voice). I was preparing to go and speak with someone and was completely petrified at the thought of yet another session where I would be misunderstood. I did not like being misunderstood especially when I was honestly baring my heart. My stepmother was the one receiving an ear-full of my whining but after a while, she stopped me and gave me the best advice.

“Visualize how you want this meeting to go. Write down the things you want to say and imagine yourself saying them with clarity and confidence. See yourself being understood and coming out of that meeting feeling confident and with a clear conscience.”

I’m paraphrasing here ofcourse. I’m sure she said something like this. Immediately, I took her at her word and was diligent about visualizing the outcome I wanted to see by the end of the meeting. I visualized the entire time I walked over to the office and by Jove…it worked! I wasn’t a nervous shaky mess, ‘too afraid to be honest because of what this person might say to me’ person. I felt confident, brave and cock-sure that today was going to be a great meeting. The events of that meeting played out almost exactly as I had visualized. And that’s when I became a believer!

I still use visualization to this day as a way to help me plan positive responses to situations I may carry some feelings of negativity or anxiety toward… and trust me, I got a few! Managing your responses, or better still, planning your positive responses, helps you to lessen or avoid all together, the chances of re-occurring realities. What I mean by that is the ‘I hate feeling this way’ guilt- trip we experience after we react the way we always do. Especially when we desperately desire to change that reaction. If we want to change our reactions, we can visualize a new reality where a positive response takes place by giving our brains a new scheme or story to role play in. The more we visualize positively, the more likely that response is what we will manifest.

It doesn’t take an neurologist to know our brain is a beautiful organ capable of some awesome things including patterns. We learn through repetition of any action or thought and it etches a pattern that the brain saves, allowing us to do things on a switched-on auto-pilot. For example, the order in which we clean body parts in the shower. The good news is that the brain can re-learn and change patterns, even after years of the original pattern being established. Which means that regardless of age, a healthy brain can remain teachable. However, none of that is possible without some work, work, work, work work, WORK! See what I did there. Changing any pattern requires an intentional decision to do something different until it sticks and one good activity to try is visualization.

Mentally practice a positive response – that’s what visualization means for me. Practice being the operative word here; meaning more than once. If an interesting thought crosses my mind, I don’t just let it go by. I capture it and ask myself ‘Danie…how would you respond if this actually happened’. From there, I begin to develop the likely positive responses I could have in that particular situation.

Get the jump on potentially uncomfortable situations by visualizing things like your happy response when bumping into your ex and their soon-to-be-spouse in the supermarket. Or having to stand up for yourself the next time a co-worker tries to humiliate you infront of your boss. Or even overcoming the urge to run every time you are asked to speak to a room full of people or say a prayer over the microphone. The more positive thoughts we construct, the more positive responses we are likely to give from jump-street.

If you don’t know where to start, there are tons of great resources online and or you can find a good counselor to help you practice in a safe space. It helped me and maybe it can help you. #JCMD

A Lottabody Tale

Ok… Lottabody’s recent upload of a new campaign video #alottalove is perfectly romantic in every way. The documentary style social experiment captures the vlog entries of five to seven women sharing their thoughts and expectations on kissing a complete stranger for the first time. Between the music score, varied depictions of natural hair types, beautiful women and extremely GAWGUS men, it’s no wonder by the end of watching it, we feel all warm (hot rather) and fuzzy on the inside. Our hearts left to ponder on whether we would be so bold as to participate in such a publicly ‘intimate’ commercial.

Click to watch:  Kiss A Stranger – #alottalove

An interesting spin indeed for a hair product line and naturally it begs the question ‘why’? Why use this social experiment to sell their product and it’s not even Valentine’s Day? The end of the video answers that question but to be honest, I am not sold on the answer.

“Hair & Kisses have one thing in common… They’re unforgettable when done right.”

Can you hear my mind stretching to correlate these two things? Is it suggesting that much like falling in love at first sight (or first kiss in this case), we too will fall blissfully in love at our first experience with Lottabody products? That’s one hell of a sales pitch if you ask me. But why would that pitch subconsciously motivate me to buy and use their product? Let’s take a closer look to see.

Disclaimer: This commentary in no way seeks to defame the Lottabody natural hair product line. I have very little experience with Lottabody myself, but some of my besties swear by it. Therefore, I can count on Lottabody being an excellent product that naturals should try. However, what is under close examination is the concept and messaging behind their new commercial. Frankly, I’m no expert at advertising psycho-analysis but what could offering my own opinion hurt?

Set and Match!
The fact that each couple looks perfectly matched, even in height, suggests the makers of this video took the time profile the candidates and pair them with likely partners. From the jump, everyone looks like a couple and that immediately reads well on camera. The attraction is immediate and the sparks fly. If we look hard enough, we can already see how cute their kids would be if they ever procreate. Not much was left to chance there. However, the likelihood of our day-to-day interactions beginning with a near perfect match without Match.com is rather slim for us, I’d say. Sorry about the rain on that parade.

Sexy sells and first impressions count!
We all love to see good-looking people with other good-looking people in a good-looking relationship to make us feel hopeful about our ‘not so good-looking’ prospects (#relationshipgoals). Each lady is nicely slaying for a good first impression and ofcourse the focus of their makeover, their lovely tresses, was styled by a knowledgeable and tentative Lottabody hairstylist. Girls y’all know we dish like crazy when we sit in that salon chair! Not to be overlooked is the level of ‘rip-ness’ each male has. I mean, in terms of female fantasy, those men score full 10s on the ‘baby got body’ score-card. This video does carry quite a few saucy bits as eye-candy for the ladies watching on. Who wouldn’t want to be kissed by a gorgeous, well-dressed gentlemen bursting with muscles and personality?

Black Love sells too.
I can only assume that while Lottabody is showing the wide range of hair types their products facilitate, they are also endorsing the male-female love relationships between the many complexions of Black people. I can’t argue with that. It is a beautiful example.

Finding True Love sells EVEN MORE!
After the awkwardness, the couples politely jump right into the good stuff. Some cute peaks are exchanged and also longer ones. Giggles and laughter ensue… everyone passes! But the real kicker is that by the end of the first round of kisses, some women already know ‘THIS IS IT!’ and are more than willing to try that second- first kiss out for size. One woman in particular exclaims ‘I think I’ve found my true love!’. I can only assume that this is what some of the female candidates were looking for from this experiment… To find true love in a kiss?! I guess it was a successful social experiment after all and Lottabody helped to make it happen, right?

For years, movies, music, commercials and society have gone full ham on this notion of love at first sight as a beautiful, reckless, uninhibited means of finding true love. Whether it’s the first time you lock eyes with the person, first conversation, first kiss or the first time you have sex, love is made out to be that initial zing of endorphins released in our bodies when our eyes fixate on another person. This idea is only reinforced in this video. And what do we have? A society full of love-starved or love-sick millennials addicted to ‘the instant’, who are very open to the idea that true love can be as easy as a good hairstyle and kiss. But can it really be so simple? While our initial response to anything can be good, matters of the heart require more careful thought and action.

Don’t fall for it…again!
Just when we have encountered enough reality in our lives about relationships and unpacking the depths of love, here comes yet another set of social programming that takes us into a head spin. True love’s kiss saves the day! We’ve seen in it every fairy-tale. Only difference is that the kiss doesn’t come at the end of a gallant rescue but at the beginning of a relationship between two strangers. No need for any evidence of intent, your smile and muscles are enough, let’s just kiss and happily-ever-after begins. Eager to jump to the good stuff. At least in the cartoons the men had to show some guts before they were rewarded with a kiss.

One of the trustiest things about love is that it is a decision and a feeling. Our chemical responses to physical attraction cannot be the sole building blocks we lay as the foundation of our relationships. ‘Sole’ being the operative word here. With time, many of us experience feelings of no longer loving something the way we used to and find ourselves looking on the shelf for another hair product. If you catch my drift. That’s because feelings, including love, are subject to change by many different factors but a decision, to love, carries longer lasting results and responsibilities. Decisions have a  tendency to keep our feelings in check which is necessary, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. But who needs commitment and stick-ability when you have ‘chemistry in the right moment’? I guess we can wait to make a serious decision about a relationship after we’ve had good sex with them. When it all feels right, then it’s real, right? Feelings alone do not determine if love is real, decisions do. Thus, it takes careful consideration, thought and examination to help us arrive at a good relationship decision. I’m sure Lottabody meant to include that aspect as well but maybe the clips didn’t make the cut.

Most of us would never throw caution to wind when it comes to what we put in our hair, so why would we throw reason to the winds of hot emotion when we kiss a complete stranger? Truthfully, a part of me still feels like the ‘stranger’ part was staged but hey!

If those guys were Lottabody products, these are a few questions I think one should ask before  tripping falling in love with them because you had a good kiss:

Why not take some time to read the label and some reviews?
Yes, the product looks good on the outside but what else is in the bottle?
Outside of being a good experience, what other health benefits do they offer?
Can you see yourself using only this product for the rest of your life?

This is my offering in essence:

  • A good kisser is not the equivalent of a good lover; i.e. someone who knows how to love well outside of the sexual context.
  • Magic is not a synonymous term for true love.
  • A relationship with a human being is not the same as a relationship with a product line and
  •  The action of kissing someone is not a stable determining factor for the merit of love and happiness in a potential relationship. No matter how good the kiss is!

Some things in life require more thought and love happens to be one of them. I’m always wary of messaging that promotes true love as a feeling occurring during any first time interaction with people. It is true that we can figure a few things about someone when we meet them but love, I hope, would mean searching deeper than a good kiss.

So what are they really selling? Lottabody hair products or a fantasy? #JCMD