This is the way you show up in your relationships with yourself and other people. And, how your history affects the patterns of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors within those relationships. It can include: how you handle conflict, your communication style, and how secure you feel with other people. It also includes sociocultural experiences that have to do with race, gender, sexuality, and other parts of your identity.
Do you have trouble speaking up and expressing yourself? Do you find yourself at times shying away from conflict? Do you tend to agree with others or say ‘yes’ to things to please them, even if it means sacrificing your wants and needs? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you likely struggle with assertiveness! Unfortunately, I think assertiveness tends to be perceived with a negative lens. I sometimes believe assertive and aggressive behaviours are mistaken for each other, which causes us to shy away from this. In reality, these two communication styles are very different (and I will cover that today!) As we enter the holiday season, your ability to be assertive might be more difficult than usual. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you might lose sight of your own needs and shy away from conflict for the sake of others- especially if you’re surrounded by family and friends. For some people, the holidays are a time of immense joy, and happiness; but for others, it can be a time of stress, loneliness, and sadness. For example, you might be anxious or stressed by the thought of dealing with comments from family members/friends about your weight, your relationship status, or how little/how much you eat at holiday gatherings. The good thing is, assertiveness is a skill that can be learned, and you don’t need to sit through or accept uncomfortable comments or situations that come your way this holiday season. There is a way to be effectively assertive whilst also being gracious and having self-respect! My goal today is to shed some light on what assertiveness is (and what it isn’t) and to give you the tools you need to develop and strengthen this skill so that you can navigate different experiences and potential challenges this holiday season!
Recently, I worked through an early childhood traumatic experience that involved gift-giving. For the longest time, I couldn’t pinpoint why receiving gifts from my mother throughout my life felt off. Through my personal EMDR therapy, I realized that my response to gift-giving had been ingrained in me as a trauma response. In the absence of emotional availability during a traumatic time in her life, my mom leaned into gift-giving in lieu of her emotional availability. I was processing this unmet need when this new insight about receiving gifts from her surfaced. I realized why it had always bothered me. It felt like buying my affection, and as a result, felt as if I owed something back. Since processing this experience with EMDR, I had a deeper understanding into the reasons behind it. I finally knew exactly WHY. Gift-giving can feel good. But sometimes, it’s a trauma response. When this happens, it takes away from how meaningful a gift can be and all the feel-good benefits that come with it. This season, we’re looking into moving away from excessive gift-giving as a trauma response and leaning into gift-giving as a tool for healing, authentic connection, and fostering healthy relationships that center generosity, gratitude, and empathy.
I grew up in a culture that values the spiritual nature of psychology and natural science, such as astrology. When you hear astrology, you might think of ‘pseudoscience’ (i.e., fake science). Because of how astrology has been marketed and packaged to the masses through things like daily horoscopes in magazines and various media forms, you might think it’s not real. But what astrology is truly concerned with is energy. And from that perspective, it’s essential to pay attention to how energy impacts you, your intuitive knowledge, your personality, and your relationship behavior. Spiritual psychology incorporates this ancient wisdom that’s four thousand years old by bringing together these cultural, multidimensional, and holistic practices. Today, we’re delving into the connection between nature and your relationship health through exploring and understanding various types of energies. So you can bring more self-awareness into your connections and enrich your romantic relationships.
This is to the ones who’ve lost their mothers: Emotionally, physically, or both. And, to the ones who stepped up, stepped in, and raised us to be the people we are. There are mothers who birth us. There are mothers who neglect us, abandon, and reject us. The ones we feel misunderstood by. And the ones we ache for. Then, there are mothers who raise us. Give birth to the people we are. They become our safe harbours, our love source, and our protectors. The ones that challenge us lovingly, and mentor us. Sometimes the deep loss and the aching mother wound(s) prevent us from seeing the riches of the connections with our other mother figures. With Mother’s Day in mind, our intention this week is to honour the womxn who raised you and uplifted you, and to heal the wounds of the young part(s) of you that ache. Try one (or more) of these, as you see fit.
When there’s multigenerational trauma, it can be difficult to navigate family relationships and dynamics. Sometimes, this can get even more challenging as you embark on your own healing journey.
In, Abandon Your Fear, Not Yourself, we delved into how to celebrate yourself by practicing showing up in your life from a place of freedom, joy, and self-confidence rather than fear. So you can be yourself anytime, anywhere, with anyone. We also covered why being what you think other people need you to be, is a trauma response. Today we’re delving into a type of fear that might show up for you in relationships: Fear of rejection and/or abandonment. Why is this important? Because this fear is part of your attachment style, which affects how you feel about yourself, your pattern of reactions, and your relationships. If your attachment style centers on fear, then there’s a good chance you’re letting fear make choices for you.
The essence of healing is connection - first, to yourself. Then, to others. Your human nature directs you to seek bonding. You are, biologically and neurologically, wired for this. Unfortunately, when carrying unhealed trauma, you could seek harmful connections because you’re disconnected from yourself. “Trauma is that very separation from the body and emotions.” - Gabor Maté. Cultivating meaningful, healthy connections, on the other hand, helps you heal and thrive. For this to happen, being intentional in shifting your priorities in relationships is crucial, especially in your relationship with yourself. This week, join me to intentionally evaluate and shift your priorities so you may increase your connection to yourself, decrease loneliness, and build meaningful relationships.
Undoubtedly, unresolved emotional conflicts and unhealed trauma wounds impact your relationship with yourself and others. This effect can have many faces and show up in various ways. One of the most common ways it can show up is when you keep having the same fight over and over. This pattern can happen in any type of relationship involving intimacy. Intimacy in relationships is about having closeness, feeling supported and cared for, and being emotionally connected. You can have intimacy with romantic partners, friends, and family. When you look at intimacy and closeness beyond the sexual undertones of it, you can start to see how it’s a cornerstone of any healthy relationship, regardless of its type. Today, we’re highlighting why you might find yourself stuck in having the same argument, conflict, or fight, especially with your intimate partner(s). And what you can do about it. You can also generalize this information to other types of relationships in your life.
Vulnerability doesn’t just show up accidentally in your relationships. It’s a value you choose to prioritize intentionally. It’s something you build and nourish. So it’s a skill set that requires deliberate steps. Vulnerability is about being open, unguarded, exposed, and unarmed. It is challenging to be vulnerable when living with unhealed trauma. The emotional wounds that haven’t fully healed interfere with vulnerability and make it difficult. For this reason, being intentional with it is crucial. It also takes courage to be vulnerable in the face of adversity and internalized fear. This is for you if you value intimate close connections but struggle with trust and the fear of rejection. This is an invitation to find the courage to be vulnerable.
There’s a good chance that when you hear the word intimacy, you’d probably think about physical and sexual intimacy. I think most people would. But intimacy isn’t limited to these two types. It is also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. In a world where we’re most “connected” in various ways, we’re the most alone because the tools of our connection lack true intimacy. Nothing highlights this more than the aloneness and isolation you can feel during the holidays. Today we’re delving into artificial intimacy: What it means, its impact, and how you can shift from it into more authentic intimacy as you move through this upcoming holiday season.
The pain of betrayal can lead to trauma. Then, you can inherit this trauma from one generation to the next as it is weaved into the tales you’re told. If you take a moment to reflect, you’ll notice the stories about trust and betrayal given to you by your parents, family, caregivers, elders, and community. Storytelling is one of the ways intergenerational trauma is passed down. To protect you from pain, the people that came before you say, “I’m hurting from betrayal, so you should watch out too.” The core message is: defend yourself, watch out, and be on guard. It’s about protection, not connection. If you’re struggling with trust in your relationships, including your friendships, this might be one of the factors influencing you. Read on to understand the anatomy of trust, so you can re-examine the stories you were told and rewrite them. Then, be able to cultivate long-lasting, trusting, and reciprocal friendships.
Compassion is both an outcome of and a tool for healing. Today, I watched a video of a woman creating a secret underground tunnel that’s liveable in the wilderness with three fundamental tools. It was a reminder of how creative and resilient you can be when you have the right tools. And what amazing things you can bring to life when you learn how to use them. Witnessing her was a seemingly simple but crucial reminder amidst the continued state of the world, in which the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, amongst other painful news. My first reaction to the overturning, and to quote the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, “This is some bullshit.” This devastating decision, to me and for people like me, is yet another way the world can lack compassion. You can quickly get stuck in grief, defeat, and hopelessness when faced with this. Getting stuck prevents you from seeing the opportunity for rebuilding that comes after that. I could’ve gotten stuck in the limited resources the woman had in that video. I had to dig deep into my self-compassion to pull myself out of these reactions. I also connected with my community (the people who would get the depth of this). Compassionate connection with yourself and others allows you to find your sense of renewal and generate hope, dignity, and freedom. You become a better change-maker when you don’t deny your anger and sadness about what’s happened. You pay attention to it AND focus on personal renewal and healing as tools for rebuilding (at the same time). This compassion inspires you to be resilient to your circumstances and work towards the change you want. This week, consider compassion for yourself and others as a tool for connection, renewal, change, and oneness.
You’ve probably heard this: “live life on life’s terms.” Sometimes people use this quote to justify living life passively. When you do this, you become overly accepting of life and don’t solve your problems. This isn’t the intention here. On the contrary, the quote is about moving through life with willingness rather than willfulness, honouring yourself while accepting there are things in the past you can’t change some things you can’t change right away. The public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be, from a psychological standpoint, one big exercise in willingness vs. willfulness. This week, we’re building on a previous post on Openness and Willingness to Change. In it, we focused on how to find willingness with your body when you’re stuck through exercises like Half Smile and Willing Hands. We’re taking this practice a step further and applying it to the context of relationships and connections.
In 2008, July was declared National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States to acknowledge and bring awareness to the unique challenges of underrepresented communities. There’s a stigma attached to needing help and asking for it in many diverse, deep-rooted, and underrepresented communities like mine. Often, white-knuckling through life and a hustling mindset is the norm. To need help can be seen and judged as weak, especially for mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. This belief gets perpetuated and reinforced in a variety of ways. You may not even name your trauma or pain, so it goes unacknowledged for a long time. This week, in honor of this month, I invite you to re-evaluate this belief about needing and receiving help. You reclaim your power when you accept your need for this and then allow yourself to receive it.
We’re in a season of transformation, growth, and rebirth. The fall season is here, reminding us of this. Growth goes hand in hand with our ability to trust the unknown. We need courage for this type of trust. Come along to witness Iman’s journey of navigating motherhood and making tough choices during the COVID-19 pandemic, so her children can thrive.
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