The “three R’s”, reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic cover a lot, but not a key component of successful lives, families, and communities: healthy relationships.
I used to think that good relationships were all about compatibility and chemistry. But healthy and resilient relationships take commitment, effort, and good, reciprocal communication (see last week’s blog here).
But what do those things mean? They’re such broad concepts that span a wide range of skills. Such skills require life-long learning and practice, as they’re just as much art as science.
I’ve been a student of relationship science, education, and practice, informally, for most of my life. I’m not perfect at this or anything else, but I feel I’ve learned so much the hard way. I know from my lived experience that we all can be more proactive about educating ourselves to create healthy and rewarding relationships for mutual benefit.
Here’s what else I know:
First, creating healthy relationships with others requires that we start by creating a healthy relationship with ourselves.
Yeah, we’re in relationship with ourselves. Just like the nature of your relationship with others has to do with how you treat each other, whether there’s respect, trust, and reciprocity, you are also in relationship with yourself. How do you treat your mind, body, and spirit? Are you nurturing, patient, and/or attentive, or demanding, unreasonable, neglectful, and/or abusive? Are you creating a safe space and providing for your learning, growth, and improvement, or do you create learning hurdles for yourself?
If you don’t know yourself, what you need, and who you are, it’s very hard to understand others. For example, if I’m unaware that I’m carrying anger from an unresolved work issue, I am not likely to realize how aggressive my tone of voice may sound at home. If that hidden, unresolved issue becomes a hot button, an unwitting soul may just experience the nuclear fallout from even a minor, button-pushing encounter.
When we lack self-awareness about our behavior and beliefs, we’re likely to go through life in denial of our own and others’ reality. If I’m in endless denial about reality, others will argue about reality with me endlessly, creating conflict and heartbreak as a way of life.
This is a recipe for unhappy relationships, even those that start with great chemistry.
Second, positive and resilient relationships are created from healthy (new) skills and habits.
The way we tend to learn skills is either from role models, formal education, or trial and error. Few of us have had real training or great role models for basic relationship skills. If you’re like me, the silent majority, we’re left with trial and error, arguably the least efficient and effective way to learn a teachable skill.
And it ain’t pretty.
It’s not really our fault. After all, it’s not the “four R’s”: reading, writing, ‘rithmatic, and relationships. It’s not a “thing” in our schools, homes, or workplaces, or on most of our minds.
Creating positive relationships is a learnable skill, whose techniques are informed by science. It is somewhat of an art because every situation and person is different. And it takes effort because, like with any art, it involves skill development.
However, I argue that it takes more effort, in the long run, to swim in unhappy relationships than it does to savor happy ones.
Third, education for skill development is available.
Granted, a huge shortcoming of what is available is that it’s scattered among millions of websites, books, programs, organizations, psychologists, friends, and mentors. The best programs that are comprehensive and skill-based are not readily available geographically, economically, demographically, or logistically to everyone.
We need tools for skill development that are available and accessible to everyone and provide the basic skill training that we need to create relationship health. It should be available online so folks can access it whenever and wherever they want, and the tuition should be on a sliding scale so all can afford it. There should be versions for youth and adults, because why create bad habits in our kids, just to make them unlearn them later?
There is a resource like that!
It’s coming soon, and we’re offering it.
The Foundation for Family and Community Healing is tackling relationship education head-on by offering learning and skill development through social media (like this blog) and a suite of educational modules focused on skill development.
Topics span the spectrum of all that we’re in relationship to: ourselves, each other, Earth, and the loving force that unites us.
We’re starting with our flagship module, Relationship Wellbeing. There’s a version for youth (middle- and high-school) and adults (18 and up). We’re offering it on a sliding scale tuition, so learners pay what they can afford. It is accessible by smartphone, tablet, or internet browser, and can be used by individuals or by groups for group learning whenever they want, 24/7.
And we focus on developing your skills in the context of your life. Because that’s what matters.
Those who commit to learning and practicing these skills can change their life.
Those who want a quick fix…. Well, you will likely get some great pearls of wisdom but your changes will be most profound and impactful if you really commit to your learning and skill development. It has the potential to enrich your life in every possible way!
And you deserve it. You deserve to give yourself the best life possible by investing your time and effort in yourself, for yourself.
When is this available?
On February 14, we will be offering our two flagship modules, Relationship Wellbeing for Youth and Relationship Wellbeing for Adults, as a preview of what’s to come. We’re asking for users to give us feedback on the modules. We’ve spent over a year developing them, and we’d like your help to test them out.
Later this spring, we’ll be formally launching these and several other modules on other relationship education topics. Most modules will be priced as name-your-tuition (gift economy) and you can access the content whenever you want. Some other modules will be for a minimum fee, offering facilitation and greater depth to a smaller group of learners.
We will keep adding to the offerings over time, creating a growing, rich repository of relationship education resources that benefits everybody and everything!
We invite you to join our learning community because learning together is the most rewarding and effective way to learn!
To preview our modules, or see the slate of our initial offerings, look for our announcements on social media or our website (www.familyandcommunityhealing.org)!