The healthy relationship series hosted in November was the first of five series. The series focused on learning about the foundations of healthy relationship, understanding healthy boundaries, and exploring unhealthy relationships. This introductory conversation begins to identify intergenerational patterns in relationships.
The healthy relationship course covered the following topics: healthy relationships and building a foundation, intimacy and knowing your voice,
Healthy Relationships & Building Foundation: This session opened the series by identifying what healthy relationships are and are not with the use of various criteria. The foundation of a relationship was identified as being significant to its progress and success or failure. Some elements of a healthy foundation include having a strong support system (the inner circle) whose love is unconditional, having an adequate outer circle of friends, peers, and acquaintances, having well-established boundaries, and lastly, routinely caring for self in a way that focuses on self-reflection, management of emotions, and developing awareness. Though the listed criteria is not universal, the message was about becoming familiar with the various factors that are included in creating an adequate foundation to promote the best relationships. Another area that was examined was trauma and attachment. Together the group examined the different attachment styles and how early childhood attachment manifests in adult relationships. Further, the impact of trauma on relationships was explored as well as the types of trauma. This topic piqued the interest of attendees and the group was temporarily divided into smaller teams to continue the discussion. Peoples’ beliefs about relationships come from different sources like culture, gender roles, and societal norms among others. The group discussed how relationships are influenced by culture, gender, and sexual identity. In addition, this session covered ways to enhance one’s own relationship and develop and use healthy communication while comparing g mainstream beliefs about relationships.
Intimacy & Knowing Your Voice: In this week of healthy relationships the group explored themes of intimacy and having a voice. Everyone’s right to be safe in relationships and to make use of boundaries was emphasized. Some types of boundaries the group spoke about include emotional, sexual, material, financial, and physical. In keeping with the theme of knowing your voice, each person’s right and responsibility to ask for what they need was explained. To emphasize this, a list of criteria for affirming needs in relationships was shared including mutual respect, trust, and honesty. Trauma and how it relates to attachment styles were covered previously. This week trauma was discussed based on how it can impact the way individuals think, feel, behave, and respond to minor and major life events. Presenting different scenarios generated discussion about conflict management in relationships followed by sharing information about affirmative consent. At the end of this session, the team gave attendees an assignment to assess their needs in their relationships and to determine how they would work through communicating their needs.
Unpacking patterns in relationships & intergenerational trauma: Affirmative consent was reintroduced during this session. Affirmative consent explains how consent can be given, that silence does not mean consent, and that the definition of consent does not vary. The plan for this week’s session was to show how healthy relationship patterns are developed from childhood when children form attachment styles based upon those early experiences and responses (or the lack thereof) from parents/caregivers. The group then considered intergenerational patterns which look at how trauma is passed down. Using discussion generated from a given scenario the group examined the impact of trauma on a child which is further developed and replicated through behavior and perception. The group then identifies any themes that show up as fear of abandonment and/or inability to accept love. The reality of intergenerational patterns is considered as trauma can be transferred through family systems, race, culture, and/or identity. At this point, the group directly addressed questions of patterns observed in their own families and/or themes that have occurred in themselves or their families. To conclude the session the presentation focused on how patterns that do not serve individuals can be interrupted/changed. Patterns like intimate partner violence and substance abuse can be stopped. The group discussed actions to take towards breaking the cycle and disrupting patterns between one’s past, present, and future. Some steps include increasing awareness; exploring one’s emotions; repairing patterns by addressing shame, fear, and guilt; understanding the conflict and resulting emotional impact, and re-establishing healthy behaviors which can then lead to healthy relationships.
Featuring Guest host: Ms. Elizabeth Evans presented on unhealthy relationships and intimate partner violence. Ms. Evans explained that abuse occurs on a spectrum. I.e., some people do not worry until the signals are undeniable. It also means that the violence is not always physical and can be what she calls ‘silent violence’. A key message from Ms. Evans’ talk is to ‘listen to your gut; heed your intuition’ because there is meaning to the signals from one’s intuition. A recommended movie from Ms. Evans is called ‘Maid’. Adapted from Stephanie Land's bestselling 2019 memoir, it follows a young mother, Alex (Margaret Qualley), as she scrabbles to save herself and her daughter, Maddy, two, from a crushing cycle of domestic abuse.
Reclaiming Ourselves: Self Love: This being the last session, the focus was on re-establishing self-love. Through the introduction of art activity, group members were engaged in self-reflection about what matters to each person, what helped in their personal growth, what are some strengths, gifts, talents, and cherished personality traits they each possessed? Following this the group discussed ways to create safety within relationships, identifying relationships that help and those that hinder, establishing boundaries, and using communication as a way to enrich relationships. The group also watched a video about deep listening and ended the session with a gratitude activity. This week’s series ending session was used to promote self-love and self (re)discovery. Some additional tips to actively connect with oneself were shared like the following: practice holistic health, find your purpose, forgiveness, mindfulness, giving back, and being grateful. Kemetic yoga expert, Ms. Natasha Eck closed the session by guiding the group through a brief exercise. Kemetic yoga is special because it focuses mostly on the breath not just physical bodily movements.
Access the online course
The healthy relationships series is also available online in the attached course. Register for the free course. The course takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. The course includes attached articles, videos, and further information to enhance your learning,