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Mothers just seem to know. My mom has always had a knack for reading me. For knowing what I’m going through and knowing just what I needed to hear to make it through a difficult time. I hear something similar from Ms. Sandi Graham. As I listened to the voicemail at the end of “Can’t Have Everything,” I could hear her speaking to her son in a way that only she can. Perhaps with a message that only she could give him.
You know, hun, I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days. I can appreciate where your uncertainty stems from and you have reason to question your anxieties and how disillusioned you feel, as well as feeling skeptical about who you believe you can trust. But that attitude will just hold you back in this life, and you’re going to continue to feel alienated. Give some thought to this, because I’m confident in you, and I know you can reach your desired destination and accomplish your goals much more quickly without this confrontation I’m hearing in your tone these days. When others go low, we go high.
I can hear the closeness between them. Although Drake is one of the most successful recording artists in the world, he isn’t too big for mom’s advice. It is worth mentioning that none of us would have heard Ms. Graham’s message if Drake wouldn’t have put it on his album. While many artists likely have this connection and advice-giving from a parent, they understandably choose to keep it to themselves. Drake allows his mother’s advice into the world. We’re not sure why. Perhaps it’s part of Drake’s personality, perhaps he’s simply being self-revelatory, or perhaps he knows that there is something wise and worthwhile in what she is saying. The world needs to hear it.
Rap Beef, Relationship Drama
Drake has experienced immense professional success over the past few years, he has also had some professional challenges. This includes his feud with Meek Mill over using a ghostwriter on his albums, which resulted in several diss tracks. While diss tracks are pretty typical for rap beefs, it was a bit of a change in tone and approach for Drake. Professional challenges have also included some verbal criticism from Kanye during his most recent tour. Romantic relationships have also been inconsistent for him including his under the radar relationship with Rihanna, short foray with Jennifer Lopez, etc. Relationships aren’t easy for anyone, but they are that much more difficult in the drama and attention of the public eye. Drake knows all of this and his mom knows too. She speaks into this drama with her knowledge of her son as well as for a hope for his betterment.
Skepticism and Alienation
What she says is beautiful in its own way. She is validating and comforting. She recognizes the challenges that he faces in being a celebrity trying to navigate relationships both professional and romantic. She addresses both his uncertainty and anxiety. She acknowledges that he has a right to feel disillusioned. She knows he is experiencing skepticism and distrust towards those around him. But she can’t just let him off the hook with validation and support. She also gives him the advice he needs to hear.
She sees a reciprocal connection between his skepticism and alienation.
Ms. Graham discusses that while paranoia and skepticism are normal emotions for someone going through his life experiences, these emotions can have consequences too. She sees a reciprocal connection between his skepticism and alienation. As long as he continues to maintain a skepticism toward the world, he will feel alienated. She encourages him that although confrontation may feel good in the moment it will get in the way of who he wants to be.
She wraps up her motherly advice call not just with her own words, but with that of Michelle Obama; “When they go low, we go high.” Although these words might be in a different context than when Ms. Obama used them, they carry an appropriate weight in Ms. Graham’s message. Let the haters hate, but don’t stoop to their level. We will see how well Drake implements this in his life, but the fact that he put this voicemail on his album suggests its importance to him.
Ms. Graham’s Life Advice
Although you may not be facing a rap beef with Meek Mill or Kanye West, there is something to be taken from Ms. Graham. Just as she encouraged Drake to embrace others instead of alienating them, social support is a vital component of a healthy life. Research indicates that social support is critical for both mental health and physical health.
As distrust continues to increase past a certain point in relationships, it no longer serves an assertive function.
Skepticism in relationships can be healthy to a certain extent. In times of uncertainty, distrust can be protective against others that may be out to harm you. But there is also an inverted U effect to skepticism. As distrust continues to increase past a certain point in relationships, it no longer serves an assertive function. Instead, distrust becomes so distancing that you push everyone away with no chance of support. If you force everyone to remain at arm’s length for long enough, it will be difficult to ever gain the support that you need. Finding balance in your boundaries is a critical part of healthy relationships.
Listen to Ms. Graham. Whatever work or relationship drama you’re facing, remember that there are many ways to reach your goals. While distrust and skepticism may keep you alert to certain professional or interpersonal dangers, what cost does it have to you? Remember the inverted U effect. If you are consistently feeling skeptical towards those around you it may be time to change things up. Consider what you want in your life and in your relationships and if that includes more trust, try these 5 steps:
1. Ask yourself why you want relationships in the first place. Relationships are hard work but they are worth it. Having others in the world that you can confide in may bring some risks but can be meaningful and worthwhile.
2. Remind yourself that you aren’t your past. That doesn’t mean that we should forget the past, but when we carry the past with us it often clouds our judgement in the present. A past hurt doesn’t mean that you will be hurt again in the future and thus shouldn’t cause you to avoid emotional closeness.
3. Push yourself. Know that just because you feel anxious doesn’t mean it is wrong. If you have had a hard time trusting people in the past, it will take time and patience to get past some of your relationship fears. Have at least one trustworthy person who can help you figure out what relationships are healthy and not healthy for you.
4. Take your time. The only way to figure out if you can trust someone is to trust someone. Sometimes we try to move too fast and too big. Take your time and move slowly but keep moving forward. Start with smaller steps and proceed towards bigger ones if those go well.
5. Work on setting boundaries. Emotional boundaries are the way to protect yourself in relationships but often times they are difficult to learn and implement. Try out new ways to set boundaries with people in your life and be willing to experiment with boundaries.