Vi Waln: Don't get drawn into the drama in your tribal community

Vi Waln

Social Wellness Month
By Vi Waln
Lakota Country Times Columnist

July is designated as Social Wellness Month. Every day of your life is a good time to be more aware of your overall health. Being healthy doesn’t stop at our physical body. We also have to work at making sure our mind, emotions and spirit are healthy. Total wellness also means being able to get along with other people.

According to the University of California, Riverside, “social wellness refers to one’s ability to interact with people around them. It involves using good communications skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others, and creating a support system that includes family members and friends.”

Eating food that is good for you is an obvious way to be healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be eaten every day. Limiting red meat, sugar and processed foods are also ways to watch your health. Drinking at least a gallon of water per day is also a good practice.

People can become addicted to junk food. As good as they might taste, snacks like hot Cheetos, microwave sandwiches and c-store gizzards aren’t the menu to health. It’s really difficult to get young people to understand the risks of eating processed or greasy food every day.

Consequently, I notice that I don’t feel very good after I’ve eaten a bag of potato chips. It affects my mood and upsets my stomach. I’ve also noticed that children who eat a lot of junk food have bad dispositions. Those children would rather have junk food to eat than a healthy meal.

A healthy mind is also very important. The quality of your thought determines your outlook on life. I’ve written columns in the past encouraging people to monitor their thoughts. When your mind is full of negativity, it isn’t good for your health. Dark thoughts can be stressful. You have to make a real effort to not be bogged down with negative thought.

Balancing our emotions are another aspect to health. People who walk through life consciously working on improving their emotional intelligence, will face each day as an opportunity to move forward. Many people are unaware of the concept of emotional intelligence. They are the folks who act emotionally immature when it comes to dealing with challenging situations or relationships.

For example, let’s say you are a person who understands emotional intelligence. You generally mind your own business. Yet, for some reason unknown to you, a neighbor or co-worker has a problem with you. And even though they will never admit it, the person is really insecure. Deep down they are jealous of you or threatened by you. These situations are very common for many, many people on the rez, especially those who live in cluster housing areas. It also happens a lot to people who work for the tribe or for tribally chartered entities.

So the scenario could go something like this: the person decides to cause trouble for you by creating a drama filled situation affecting you or your job. Being the emotionally intelligent person you are, you decide to confront the person about the situation. You want to resolve the issue in a healthy manner. But the person who caused the drama says all kinds of mean things to you and then calls the police, or the supervisor, to report you for harassment.

The police or the supervisor has to assess the situation to determine who is at fault. Consequently, the neighbor or co-worker has engaged in a form of victim mentality. That is, they perceive themselves as a victim because you wanted to confront their behavior to resolve whatever the issue is. The victim mentality is validated when the police or supervisor get involved.

You are the bad guy in their mind. Even though you did nothing to your neighbor or co-worker, you are viewed as the one at fault. This is true even when you try to resolve the matter in a healthy way.

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This is rez or tribal work place drama at its finest. It is very unhealthy behavior. Yet, I see people engaging in scenarios like this all the time. Sometimes these situations escalate into a family feud. When people engage in unhealthy behavior like this, it can continue for generations. We aren’t working toward social wellness when our Takoja hold grudges passed down by our grandparents, parents or us. We are perpetuating a vicious cycle by teaching our young people how to engage in unhealthy behavior.

Yet, these unhealthy cycles can be broken. It isn’t too late to show your children how to be healthy. Learning about emotional intelligence is a start. When you make an effort to get along with people, you show your children how to be a good relative. When you work to resolve issues with other people, you are displaying emotional intelligence to your children.

Next time the neighbor or co-worker tries to pull you into an unhealthy situation, you can refuse to engage with them. My late Grandma used to always say “just don’t pay any attention to them.” Our communities and work places could use a lot more social wellness.

It’s up to us to stop perpetuating generational grudges. It’s a good way to start a path to social wellness. Our unborn generations deserve to remember their ancestors as healthy human beings.

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