Roots: Why Psychology?

I am the daughter of two Mexican immigrants that, like many immigrants, made many sacrifices as they searched for a better life. I was raised by my family’s “village” and understand the power of community. Growing up in South Los Angeles, home to Latinx immigrants and African Americans, I witnessed the power of inner strength, ancestral wisdom, culture, history and the direct impact of systemic oppression.

It was in our family kitchen where the magic of healing and transformation came to fruition as my family, engaged in the daily ritual of talking about last night’s dreams (or nightmares). We would delve into an exploration about the meaning of dreams, their relationship to past traumas, deceased loved ones visiting or relaying messages. These conversations organically evolved into stories about the past, our ancestors, Mexico, and el mestizaje. There was also talk about los problemas (problems), along with a cocktail of recurring feelings (e.g., nervios {anxiety}, anger, and sadness). When neighbors and friends joined the table, their stories and history resembled the stories I heard from my family. The narratives echoed the impact of colonization, sexism, colorism, oppression and inter-generational trauma. There was suffering and decades of silence…and there was joy, laughter, resilience and power! As stories were recounted, sometimes repeatedly, it seemed that on some level, healing was happening at our kitchen table. It was curious to feel the energy shift when connections were made with ancestral teachings and collective wisdom from deceased loved ones. The need to speak our truth, el deshogarse (to vent), no matter how long ago those hurts happened, was a necessity in the healing journey. It also became clear that healing happened in community and that healing one person could lead to inter-generational healing…a legacy of wellness.

I realized that despite ongoing struggles, we all have the inner desire to heal whether it be through being heard, being “felt”, or having someone witness their pain and suffering while acknowledging their strengths. I understood the power of the human spirit, the impact of our collective ancestral wisdom, and that healing for individuals and community takes corazón (heart). Psychology was the vehicle that allowed me to accompany others in their journey, connect with communities working toward decolonizing mind, body and spirit and facilitate reconnecting with cultural-ancestral strengths.

%d bloggers like this: