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Rising Woman founder Sheleana Aiyana discusses how a spiritual awakening led her on a journey to self-acceptance and how her relationships have evolved along the way.

A conscious couple starts with a conscious individual. This is something that Sheleana Aiyana, founder and visionary of Rising Womanfound out the hard way. After a painful divorce in her early 20s, she was awakened to the traumas in her childhood which contributed to the total breakdown of her relationship. Since then, Sheleana has been committed to her own emotional development so that she can be better serve herself and others. Sheleana is now happily re-married and practises consciousness to make sure it stays that way.

Growing up in and out of foster homes, and without a father-figure present in her life, Sheleana admits that for too long she had no idea what a healthy relationship even looked like, let alone how to be a part of one. This led to a string of interactions with “unsafe partners” before finally letting go of the pain she had long suppressed.

As part of her spiritual transformation, Sheleana initially sought the guidance of a mentor to help resolve her abandonment issues. She was taught how to use inner child, shadow, and ancestral work to reconnect with the damaged parts of herself. Armed with the proper psychological tools, Sheleana was soon able to find peace and reclaim control over her life.

Woman and Child Walking

We are each responsible for our own happiness

After spending four years as an apprentice in transpersonal group-work containers and depth psychology, Sheleana now co-facilitates women’s groups and relationship workshops to help get others on the right track. She is trained in imago couples’ facilitation, tantra, couples work, somatic healing, and is even certified as a full-spectrum birth doula.

Her philosophy is that all relationships must start with the self before they can be extended out to include another. It is only after building a strong foundation of self-acceptance that we can bring someone else into our lives. By piecing together the broken parts of ourselves, we come to realise that we were whole all along, and did not need to be completed by anyone else.

This means that we are each responsible for our own happiness in a relationship – and it does not always have to be romantic. Platonic and professional relationships function in very much the same way. This is called being in a “conscious relationship”.

Happy Couple

Sheleana explains, “Being conscious in a relationship is not a whole lot different than a conventional relationship other than the fact that we no longer see our partner as somebody who is designed to meet all of our needs.” They are there instead as a “partner in life and as an ally in healing … but also act as our spiritual teacher”.

By recognising a partner as an individual, and by supporting their individuality, it becomes possible to ease the burden of responsibility in a relationship. Sheleana suggests we are each responsible for our own emotional needs. Rather than depending solely on a partner to provide a particular feeling – be it happiness, or love, or a sense of worth – all of this you can (and should) provide for yourself.

But this doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t expect a partner to provide these feelings for us. Rather, it is our responsibility to ensure our own needs are met before giving to another. This helps liberate couples from the unrealistic expectations held in society that they must ‘complete’ one another.

Coffee with Friends

Sheleana uses an argument with her husband as an example of how to practice consciousness. When he “triggers something in me, that’s my opportunity to bring it in a vulnerable way and to invite him to do a healing process with me, or for me to take space to go and process that in myself.” Whereas in a conventional relationship, “If my husband triggers me then there’s something he did wrong and there’s something he needs to do in order to fix me so that I can feel better”.

A fundamental part of practicing relationship consciousness is to witness your own thoughts and behaviour and try to understand where it comes from. If your reactions are rooted in trauma, then it is important to recognise and reflect on them from another perspective so that they can be unlearnt. This is because unresolved trauma can lead to co-dependent relationships.

A co-dependent relationship is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy. This often translates to one partner taking advantage of the other and is not good for either.

Family at the Beach

We’re not responsible for saving other people

The family systems we were exposed to as children taught us how to form and maintain bonds as adults. While some were able to develop healthy attachments to their caretakers, others might have learned co-dependency as a result of emotional or physical neglect. This can lead to attachment and abandonment issues in adult relationships.

Relationship consciousness actively works against co-dependency by dismantling the patterns of caretaking. Co-dependent people learn to put the wants and needs of others ahead of their own and sacrifice their own feelings in order to maintain these relationships. This is especially problematic in cases where the partner is abusive or suffering from an addiction. Independent people, however, know that it is not selfish to prioritise themselves before others.

Sheleana asserts, “We’re not responsible for saving other people.” Rather, “One of the most beautiful gifts we can give people when they are suffering … is to remind them of their own power” and capacity to heal on their own. To withhold this gift would be to withhold the catalyst for change.

Spiritual Woman

It is possible to provide support to others while maintaining strong boundaries with ourselves. Sheleana says, “This isn’t to say that we don’t want to support people if they’re struggling” but that we need to “put our care and our own primary needs at the forefront as well, otherwise we’re just self-abandoning.” While it may seem selfless, it is actually a destructive coping mechanism to fixate on someone else’s problems and disregard your own.

According to Sheleana, “That’s a great way to distract from our own emotions. If I’m so focused on saving someone, I don’t have to think about my own my own trauma or my own feelings of unworthiness”.

By identifying our own boundaries and setting them firmly with others, we choose not to self-abandon. It is important that we stand up for ourselves. For example, “If we have plans and then we just cancel them because somebody that we are romantically interested in is inviting us out on a date and we just ditch all of our friends,” then we are self-abandoning by prioritising someone else.

It is important to determine what red flags to look out for in a relationship. Setting hard lines make it easier to identify and leave toxic behaviour which might have been normalised in the past. But Sheleana stresses the difference between an unhappy relationship and an abusive one. She says, “In our culture we tend to leave a relationship too early because we’re looking for perfection.” While abuse should never be tolerated, continued bickering and arguments might just be a result of poor communication. Sometimes a couple must learn how to emotionally re-connect with each other before walking away.

Homework

Speaking of how she entered her current relationship, Sheleana says, “We wrote lists, we revealed our traumas to each other, we shared life stories, we qualified what kind of relationship we wanted to build, what we needed, what we were afraid of, and the things that we still need to work on within ourselves. We sat in front of each other and asked, ‘Are you ready to do this work?’ and we both agreed.” This intensive process allowed them to locate and establish other’s boundaries; they started to become ‘conscious’.

Today, more than a decade has passed since Sheleana began spiritual seeking and she uses her relationship experience and knowledge to help guide others. Her uplifting book, Becoming the Oneexplores her own journey to self-acceptance and reveals how to transform pain into power.

Watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

During the past week when you’ve opened up your Facebook feed and scrolled through a chain of coronavirus articles, you may have stumbled across the phrase,
“Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

These were just a few of the moving words that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC), the first-term Democrat from New York, states in her speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last week. The speech came after Republican Ted Yoho, approached Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol, having just voted, and called her “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” and worse…

Too often, when American politicians find their way onto our newsfeeds, it is for the wrong reasons. However, AOC’s recent speech is trending for all the right reasons and here’s why –

  1. She is the youngest woman to ever be elected into American congress and is standing on the floor of the House of Representatives defending herself against a much older, male in power.

American politics is dominated by disreputable male characters. President Trump has been held accountable on multiple occasions for his abusive language and poor attitude towards women. He has built a Republican party that reflects these traits and AOC’s encounter with Yoho is a prime example.
For AOC to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives, as the youngest female in history to be elected into congress and tell her narrative of how Mr. Yoho approached her with his male colleague and called her, “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” “and “a f*cking b*tch,” is incredibly brave. To then follow this recount of events by defending herself, ignites a spark of empowerment in the hearts of all women.

 

  1. Her motive to speak out about the incident was to ensure young girls do not excuse or accept verbal abuse from men. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states in her speech that Representative Yoho’s comments “were not deeply hurtful or piercing” to her. She explains that she has encountered this harassment in all areas throughout her life.

She was “going to pack it up and go home,” as it was just another day in her life as a woman. However, when she heard Yoho making excuses for his comments towards her, she decided to speak out.
“I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse, and worse, to see that, to see that as an excuse, and to see our congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology.”

Her motive for taking to the microphone was to stand with younger women, ensuring they do not tolerate or accept verbal attacks from men.

 

  1. She calls out all men for using their wives, daughters, and family as shields of protection for inexcusable abuse.

Perhaps the most inspiring words of AOC’s speech were, “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Mr. Yoho attempted to excuse his behaviour by saying that he has a wife and a daughter and therefore, is a decent and respectful person. However, AOC quickly invalidated his comment when she states that she, “is someone’s daughter too,” and no child, no women, no man, no person, should ever be spoken to with such disrespect.

 

  1. She acknowledges that this does not only happen to women in politics, but women in all professions, in multiple different areas of their lives, and it is not okay. 

Before being elected into congress, AOC majored in international relations, was an activist, and worked as a waitress and a bartender. She mentions her previous occupations in her speech and states that she has “ridden the subways and walked the streets of New York City and this kind of language is not new.”

She unites all women by acknowledging that in some way, shape, or form, we have all been in her position and experienced verbal abuse, and that is the problem. AOC acknowledging that there is an issue and using her position to vocalise it is encouraging.

 

  1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t only defend herself but defends principle, and countless women, not only in America, but across the globe.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez closed her speech with, “Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude.” Because he showed the world that any man, no matter their title, their position of power, if they have a daughter or if they have a wife, can still accost women without remorse. It happens everywhere, every single day, and by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling him out in her speech, she defends, inspires, and empowers us all.

Yvette Clarke, an internationally-renowned Wellness Consultant, Empath, Light Worker and Soul Room Specialist, shares how she is able to help break through emotional barriers and explains why the parental word is so important in developing healthy self esteem in our children.

I have been blessed with the unique gift of acute empathic perceptivity, which allows me to feel and hear the subconscious emotions of my clients as though I am them.

I help women suffering from low self-esteem cut through confusion and trauma to create clarity, understanding and best of all personal empowerment, allowing them to take back control of their emotions and their lives.

For over 20 years I have had the privilege of being invited into a sacred place – the inner self – where everything that makes a person who they are is stored; I call this place The Soul Room. In this room, I come to converse with the subconscious emotional layers of the human body. In here I shine a light on the suppressed hidden beliefs and emotional injuries causing conflict and obstruction to my clients’ wellbeing, happiness and success. My job is to give voice to the subconscious self so that it can be heard and not shoved under the proverbial carpet.

I have sat with thousands of emotionally-scarred, disempowered women, who don’t understand why they bring into their lives the same bad experience – or relationship – over, and over, again. These experiences come wrapped in a different package each time and initially appear to be different than before, but once she is caught up in the euphoria of ‘duplicitous nice’ being shown to her, the relationship partner appears to have metamorphosised into someone who becomes unkind, cruel and detrimental to her already delicate self-esteem.

She loses her voice and becomes a doormat to others. This causes her self-esteem to become even more diminished than before, she becomes fearful of making another wrong choice, her anxiety levels reach catastrophic heights and she wonders what it is about her that has this continue to happen… What is wrong with HER?

Her friends don’t understand either. They wonder why such a lovely, caring and kind woman would continue to attract abuse and mistreatment.

I have been asked by numerous women over the years why they can’t break this cycle and here is the reason from a soul room perspective.

It all comes down to the power of the PARENTAL WORD. The words from a parent can make or break a child’s belief in themselves. These parental words will stay with this person for the whole of their life replaying in the background of their subconscious mind and within the emotions of the inner child self. They will replay like bad Christmas music that has become stuck in your head after you’ve done your Chrissy shopping at a major department store.

It’s like that song that just keeps replaying over, and over, again in the background of your mind and no matter what you do, it’s stuck in there.

The parental word has the same effect on your child self as that background music does, the only difference is the Christmas music won’t harm your self-esteem, the negative parental word will.

Without realising it, the parent has the power to subconsciously brainwash their child into feeling inadequate, incapable and downright unlovable.

Without realising it, the parent has the power to subconsciously brainwash their child into feeling inadequate, incapable and downright unlovable.

I have had the most beautiful, healthy women sit in front of me telling me how fat and ugly they are, they can’t even see their actual body shape because all they hear in the back of the mind replaying over and over again is the parent’s criticism of their physique and weight. The continuous jabs at a tiny bit of tummy fat has now created a woman who binge eats and then throws up to keep slim. All she is a distorted image of herself, fed by the niggling of parental criticism. As an adult, it doesn’t matter how much she is told how beautiful she is, the internal child state is stuck, glitched on the relentless parental music telling her she is fat.

As children we are emotional sponges, we absorb into ourselves the emotions and wording repeating itself in the home environment. We are like steaks marinading in criticism sauce.

When a child’s point of view is repeatedly dismissed, or their emotions are conveyed to them as drama, this teaches the child that their feelings have no value and that their emotions are ridiculous. As an adult they are likely to attract a partner who will treat them the same way the parent did.

As children we are emotional sponges, we absorb into ourselves the emotions and wording repeating itself in the home environment. We are like steaks marinading in criticism sauce.

When a child is treated with irritation when they speak, as adults they often attract relationships that treat them with the same tactic of abuse.

When a child is told continuously what is wrong with them and what they didn’t get right, they become excessively self-critical or they become very critical of others.

The parental word is so very, very, important to the innocent child. This child will remain inside your children for their whole lifetime. This child needs to be encouraged to believe in themselves, they need to be reminded how much they are loved – and loved for simply being them – not love earned from behaving in a manner that pleases the parent.

The innocent child needs to hear that they matter to you and that you are willing to listen to their feelings when needed, without prying into everything that is private and personal to them.

The greatest chance our children have of growing into emotionally healthy adults with a healthy self-esteem is from them feeling that no matter how big they mess up, your love for them will not be diminished.

Parenting is hard. Parenting kids without a partner to help can be grueling. From finding the right support to setting realistic limits, you can feel more in control and less overwhelmed. Here’s how.

        Tap emotional support. A positive support network is instrumental for stress management. If you don’t have access to close family or friends, seek support from single parent or mothers’ groups.

“We have discussion groups that discuss topics pertinent to single parents,” says Janet Gallinati, president of Parents without Partners, an international non-profit organization, with chapters across North America. “Sometimes all you need to do is talk about it, but there may be someone in the group who has gone through something similar.”

   

        Manage your finances. Many hardworking single parents struggle to make ends meet. If you qualify, numerous non-profit and government organizations are available to provide assistance. Also, eliminate unnecessary bills or contact the company to see if refinancing is an option.

“One of the worst things to do is to let the kids think that the only thing that has changed is that mommy or daddy has left,” Gallinati says. “Explain that this is now a one-income family and cuts need to be made.”

        Set limits. Say no to requests that will cause undue strain on your wallet or your time. Also, resist the urge to say yes to every activity your child wants to participate in. Make reasonable choices according to what works with your hours and available support.

         Seek flexibility. If possible, negotiate work hours or find a job that better accommodates you and your children’s needs.

“Finding flexible work is realistic if you are clear about what you need, how you can be successful and matching that with the business need,” says Laura Wildman, a staffing consultant with Mom Corps, which helps match professionals who are raising young families with companies that offer flexible work conditions.

As president of Mothers & More, a national organization that provides community, support and programming for mothers, single mom Jill Gaikowski, says she works in the evenings and on the weekends when she doesn’t have her child.

“I’m happy to make the trade-off because before becoming a single parent, I was a stay-at-home mom. I am lucky to have this option,” Gaikowski says.

         Resolve guilt. Are you haunted by feelings of guilt, inadequacy and resentment in the midst of juggling parenthood and a career? Realize that you are doing your best and focus on remaining optimistic.

“You will get that important email that comes while you are at your kids’ game and you will get that call from school when you are working, but your mindset and flexibility can make it all work,” Wildman says.

         Ask for help. Without adequate emotional and practical support, caregiving can deplete your energy making you more susceptible to illness and depression. Utilize available resources and take advantage of any help that is offered by family and friends, says life coach Kristin Dunn, owner of From the Ground Up Life Coaching.

Also, find a reliable sitter, trade babysitting with a friend or check out area drop-in day cares.

         Commit to self-care. Engage in activities that nurture and energize you like meditation, reading or exercise, even if that means waking up a few minutes earlier than usual. Use your lunch hour to connect with a friend.

“Don’t underestimate the power of human touch,” Dunn says. “Schedule a massage or a pedicure. Human contact is really helpful in releasing bottled up energy and emotion that may not otherwise have an outlet for release.”

         Plan ahead. Include personal time on the calendar. “Do something for yourself once a week. You will see how it makes you better in all other areas of your life,” Gaikowski says.

         Integrate fun. Spend time with your kids cooking meals together, playing board games, bike-riding or watching a movie. Also plan playdates or outings with other families to build a sense of community.

         Involve your kids. Assign age-appropriate responsibilities which helps children grow more self-confident and independent.

“If you over-function by doing things for your children they could be doing for themselves, you’re teaching them to have unrealistic expectations for themselves and others,” Dunn says.

Although single parenting isn’t easy, remember that when you manage your stress and focus on creating a stable, loving home for your kids, you’ll not only survive, you and your family will thrive.