00:01:19 The 4 Circles of Support

00:09:00 Healthful dependency in friendships

00:12:00 Supporting yourself and receiving support

00:18:00 Busyness, pushing and stressing

00:25:00 Going beyond western culture to influence your healing needs

00:30:00 Self-love as ground

00:34:00 Staying in relationships too long or choosing unhealthy relationships

00:41:00 Ambiguous loss when single and wanting a relationship

00:54:00 Essentials to support vital long term partnership

00:56:00 Healing as a means for connection


Minaa B



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Transcript (please excuse all errors)

Olivia Clementine: I’m Olivia Clementine and this is Love and Liberation. Today our guest is Minaa B. Minaa is a licensed social worker, mental health educator, speaker, and author of Owning Our Struggles. With a background as a former psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, depression, and trauma, Minaa has worked in several mental health industries.

She runs a mental health consulting practice where she helps organizations Build psychological safety and inclusivity around mental health.

Well thank you again for being here. It’s a joy to connect with you and I I’m looking forward to exploring your new book, Owning Our Struggles.

Minaa B: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to talk a little more about my book and the different concepts as well. Yeah. Yeah.

Olivia Clementine: I wanted to ask you about is this topic of support and the many circles of support. Will you share about those and also talk about what we do if we don’t have those circles of support in our life.

Minaa B: Yeah, so our circle of support is broken down into four different elements. So our circle of intimacy, circle of friendship, circle of participation, and circle of exchange. And what those four different domains is, is the different levels of closeness that we have with people. So clearly our circle of intimacy is the people that we feel most intimate with, the people that we can be our raw.

authentic selves around the person who, when they come into your home, who cares how messy things are, who cares if the dishes are piling over versus a person who you feel like you have to get tidy for, right? You may not have an intimate relationship with the stranger who’s coming to your house for the first time, but you might have an intimate relationship with someone who you’ve known for 10 years or even someone you’ve known for a whole year, you know?

I think it’s important for us to be thinking about what are the relationships in our lives where we feel we are seen, we are heard, we’re valued, we’re appreciated. There’s reciprocity in that relationship. There’s also trust, safety, and vulnerability in that relationship to the point where we’ve been able to sustain a very intimate connection and we have a healthy attachment with one another.

Now, in your circle of friendships, I think it’s really important for people to realize that friendship falls on a spectrum. I think when people hear the word friend, they often think about every person that they know. You know, I think in our society, we use the term friend very loosely. And I’m often checking in with people to say, well, is that really your friend?

Or is that just someone that you know And you see periodically, but do you actually have a friendship with them. And I think it’s important to realize that friendship falls on a spectrum because you can have a best friend. You can have a close friend. You can also have someone who is just an acquaintance and you can also have someone who is more of a social friend.

And so it’s really important for us to be looking at the foundations of a relationship, which is trust, respect, reciprocity, also vulnerability, and seeing within my friendships, who am I closest to that I would say, you know what, this person deserves the title friend. Right? Am I just really handing out the friend card every time I meet someone, or have they earned their right into friendship with me because they exhibit these really important elements that help to sustain a healthy relationship?

So I think it’s just important for people to learn to identify who is my actual friend. And even if I call them a friend and what level of friendship or Within that circle of friendship and on that spectrum, where do they fall? Now, our circle of participation, again I think this is also where a lot of people confuse like friendship.

And I say, no, this is someone who exists in your circle of participation. Your colleague, for example, you will probably only see each other or talk to each other when you go to work, right? There are some people who that is their work environment. And they’ve been able to sustain connections that are now manifesting outside of the workplace.

So it’s growing into something deeper. But there are also people who are like, you know, there’s this person that every time I go to work, we chat a lot and that’s it. It just stops at work. And that’s your circle of participation. So that is the group of people where. You’re involved in maybe groups or networks where you’re periodically seeing someone and as a result of that, there is some level of connection.

I often think about, for example, when I worked with parents, women who went to mother, motherhood groups or mommy and me classes, and that’s your circle of participation. These aren’t necessarily people that I’m having brunch with on the weekends. I may not be. Talking to them on the phone before I go to bed at night.

But every Saturday on the first of the month, I go to Mommy and Me class, and I’m looking forward to seeing, you know, Sarah or Christina, because she’s going to be at Mommy and Me, you know? And that is where we connect. So that is your circle of participation. And then here comes your circle of exchange.

That is your paid and professional networks. So even in the context of our conversation, I practiced as a therapist for nine years. Now I do corporate work, but you know, even as a therapist, one of the things that I always have to remind people is that this is a professional relationship.

They don’t fall in your circle of intimacy. Even if you feel like you have an intimate relationship with them, there is still a professional dynamic at play. So if you go to your medical office, I’m sure many people aren’t getting a physical checkup and then going out to dinner later on with their medical doctor, you know?

And so. That is the circle of exchange where I also have a trusted professional network that I can lean on. Hence why there are some people who have been seeing the same doctor for 5 plus years, 10 plus years, because I trust you. But this is still a professional relationship. So the second part of your question where you said, how can people build these different forms of support.

I think it’s really important for people to realize how important it is to be proactive in seeking relationship. Unfortunately, all of these different circles that I share the different domains within that circle, they don’t just happen. You have to honestly initiate and put yourself out there in order to meet people.

But I always say the best way to meet people is to first focus on your circle of participation. – Because again, those are the people that you meet in certain settings, in certain groups. And remember, anyone that we know in life, if they’re not family, of course, started off as a stranger. And that relation built, relationship built over time.

So is there someone in your workplace that you feel like you have a really close connection to? That’s one area. Are there different support groups that you can be going to? Can you use certain social apps like Bumble BFF or other apps that actually promote social connections? So I would really encourage people to be utilizing Google as a resource to see what are different things happening in my neighborhood and also think about.

Things that inspire you. Are you, are you a creative? Recently I went to a pottery making class, right? And so are there people in my pottery making class that I can hang out with, right? Can I use this space as a way to meet people and realize we also have something in common? We like to do arts and crafts.

Are you someone who likes going to concerts? Is there a show that you can go to by yourself? So I would really encourage you to also lean into your creative outlets to say, these are things I like to do. Can I go on Eventbrite and see? Is there anything happening where I can meet people?

Olivia Clementine: A lot of people, consider friendship, this kind of very gray zone, this murky zone of what can be expected. What can somebody in terms of that level of connection friendship. Expect of their friend, like if it’s an intimate friend, someone in their close circle, what is healthful dependency?

Minaa B: Well, one, I think it’s important to always pay attention to how the other person is investing in the relationship. I’ll hear people say like, I feel like my friendship with this person is one sided because I’m always being vulnerable and I know nothing about them.

You can’t force someone to be vulnerable, vulnerability requires safety and also it requires this internal sense of safety where have I worked through my stuff where I can feel safe enough to share it, despite the things that you’re doing, because you can be an amazing friend, but I may not just be there yet.

And so one of the things I think is important for us to own and realize is that. The way other people choose to invest in our relationships can also help us to discern where they fall on that friendship spectrum. Because if you’re pouring out and pouring out and pouring out, but you’re not necessarily getting anything in return, then I would question, is there a friendship that exists here?

But if you are getting certain needs met, I think it’s important to own that maybe this person just isn’t there with you. And so maybe you just aren’t close friends, right? Maybe this is not someone who’s ready to build a very close relationship. And maybe they are more of an acquaintance to you, you know?

And so I do think that’s also important because sometimes we can have Expectations for people to act a particular way with us in the context of friendship, but. Again, friendship requires reciprocity, it requires consent from both parties. So if the other person is not willing to go there, if the other person isn’t ready to go there, then that’s not something that you can enforce.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to end the friendship. It just might mean recognizing that this is someone who, well, maybe I speak to them once a month, or maybe this is someone who, when we do chat with each other, it’s very brief. We don’t go very deep with one another. We do more so check ins with one another to make sure each person is doing okay.

And that can still be a friendship, right? And so I think it’s really important for people to own, like, you know, when it comes to reciprocity, what does that look like in this relationship? That’s one of the best ways to really discern where do I fall on the relationship spectrum with the other person so that I am not creating expectations that they’re not ready to meet.

Olivia Clementine: And would you want to talk about self regulation and co regulation and when, when does one use one and when does one use the other? And I guess also this balance between self and other in general self and other support self and other work.

Minaa B: Yeah. So self regulation, you know, is pretty much ways that you regulate your nervous system on your own through different grounding practices or techniques meditation, for example, could be a form of self regulation. You know, journaling can be a form of self regulation, doing anything really where you realize your nervous system feels dysregulated and you need to use certain common practices to restore your nervous system and get back to your window of tolerance.

Co regulation is when you basically co regulate with someone else. And so basically it is using someone else’s nervous system to try to heal and repair your own. So often co regulation requires another body. So we might co regulate by when I’m stressed out, instead of me journaling, let me call my friend to vent.

Or instead of You know, meditating, I need to book a therapy session so that I can talk to my therapist and gain some clarity, right? So it always involves another body, a body that is safe, a body that is healing, a body that is thinking rationally, because often when we’re dysregulated, our thinking brain is shut off.

Especially when our trauma responses are activated. So often you’re looking to someone who can be discerning for you or provide you with wisdom and insight. In a moment where you’re so dysregulated, you can’t gain clarity or think rationally now when it comes to either or, you know, you can self regulate or co regulate at any time if you feel like that is what you need.

But I. I think one of the things that a lot of people have to be realistic about is there are going to be times where you feel maybe stressed out anxious, you’re feeling these different responses in your body and you’re seeking to co regulate, but no one is available. And I think this is the thing that’s really important for people to pay attention to, because I will, I will like listen to stories sometimes or hear people say things like, you know, if I’m in distress and I call my friend and they tell me they’re too busy, or if I tell you that I’m going through something difficult and you’re like, I have to call you back, then you’re not really my friend or you’re a terrible person.

And I think it’s really important for us to recognize that healthy relationships require compromise and flexibility. And there are going to be times in life where people cannot give you the thing that you want. So it is healthy to have expectations that I want my friend to show up for me. But when you say, I demand that you do X, Y, Z, and if you don’t do it, you are not worthy of my time or being in my, my friendships, that’s called entitlement.

Entitlement is never healthy. Expectations can be healthy, but entitlement is not. And so one of the things that we have to do is own. When we want to co regulate, but the option is not available, so therefore we have to self regulate. If I call my friend and they’re too busy because they’re tending to their infant child, that is a reasonable thing to say in that context where I’m sorry, Nina, but I’m going to have to call you back.

I’m trying to put my baby to sleep. I’m sorry, Nina, but I’m overwhelmed right now because I’m a stay at home mom and I’m stressed out with the children. And I don’t have the clarity to listen to what you’re going through. I’m sorry, Nina. I’m currently at work and unfortunately I don’t have the downtime to support you in this moment, but I’m going to need to call you back.

And I think what happens too is again, because when we’re activated, our rational brain. It’s often shut off and we have to do a lot of self regulating to be able to think clearly. We feel like everything is an attack and because our body is going through this stress response, we have urgency because we don’t want to feel this any, we feel this way anymore.

So we project that urgency onto other people and we say, well, you have to treat this as an urgent matter as well. I just told you I’m not okay. What do you mean? You have to call me back because you’re working. What do you mean? You have to call me back because you have to tend to your crying infant. How dare you?

You know, and so I do think that when you’re seeking to co regulate with someone, it is very important for you to really practice the power of pause, which is the skill that’s related to self regulation so that your thinking brain can start activating itself and so that you can really gain some wisdom and clarity in knowing that.

There are going to be times where I have needs that people cannot meet them as urgently as I want them to. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad friend. It doesn’t mean they’re a terrible person. I also might have to look at the history and say, do they always do this? Or do they actually call me back when they say, Hey, I can’t do this right now, but I’ll get to you later.

And they actually get to me later. And so. Being a supportive friend also means I want all of these things from other people, but what am I giving? And if I’m not willing to give anything, if I’m not willing to compromise, if I’m not willing to hear the needs of other people too, then you’re just as problematic as well, right?

Because we live in a society where a lot of people want to point the finger. You’re doing X, Y, Z wrong, but sometimes you have to be internally investigating. What are the things that you’re doing and what are the behaviors that you’re exhibiting that might be getting in the way of you building healthy connections?

Olivia Clementine: So the other thing I wanted to talk to you about as well is stress and numbing out and this play of like, you know, we’re in this industrial digital culture that really encourages us or essentially forces us to have to find a way to work with stress and find a way to feel.

You talk about in your book, how you grew up needing to be strong and in a sense to push through . And what have you found are ways to soften and be more vulnerable and tend to yourself and reduce that stress in a world that really is pushing up

against that?

Minaa B: You know, to be honest, I think the pivotal moment for me was when you’re carrying this burden for so long that it finally breaks you down, right? I think often in times, there, there are times where we are going and going and going one particular way, and is not, it’s not until we hit a roadblock that we realize.

Oh no, this is not working for me. I can’t move forward. I’m going to have to pivot because doing this thing and trying to sustain it is no longer an option. And I think for me, me really letting go of that strong Black woman -\ that I talked about in the book was me realizing that I’m suffering. I was suffering, you know, and I think oftentimes in life, like I said, like there are times where we do hit rock bottom and that is the learning curve where you realize in those moments, if I keep going down this same path, it is not going to be healthy for me.

It hasn’t been healthy for me already. So if I keep trying to do the same thing over and over and over again, expecting different results, as we know, that quote says, that is the definition of insanity. Right? And so, for me, it really was just owning my struggles. And you know, and that’s why I titled the book that because I want people to own and realize that there are going to be times in life where we struggle with things, you know, I even write in a book, how, as much as I wish I could tell people, adversity will never come your way.

It will, it will. And there are going to be times where. We experience things that we’ve never experienced before and we handle it in a way that may not be healthy and instead of shaming ourselves and instead of judging ourselves, the goal is to understand and recognize, okay, I’m engaging in a pattern here, but how was it making me feel?

And I had to do that inner work of realizing I’ve been trying to push through and be strong and be strong because, you know, that strong black woman trope came from my childhood, but it progressed more when my father became ill. And then once he died, it was just like, I, I can’t, I don’t have the space to be weak.

I don’t have the space to, and not even be weak because that’s not the opposite of being strength. It’s really just being human. You know, instead of putting labels on it, it’s just, I have to be human and I have to feel the things that I’m feeling instead of telling myself I have to push through all the time and appear to be happy and appear to be put together.

So, you know, I think those moments in my life helped me shift and really bringing in support. Going to a therapist myself, you know, despite me practicing as a therapist, it’s very important for us to also be in therapy as well. And that has been very important in my own personal and professional development, but also calling in community, calling in my people, admitting to them and letting them know, like, this is a struggle that I have.

I need support around this thing. I need help with this thing. And I feel like as time goes on, When you open yourself up to doing something different, you realize that there are a lot of things in life that can go in many different directions. I think the human mind tends to engage in black and white thinking, so we believe there’s only one possible outcome.

But when you put that strong trope down, or whatever those burdens are that you’re carrying, you realize there’s a multitude of ways that I can heal. In order to move forward with my life. And the only way to see that is to put these burdens down so that I can open my eyes to the different possibilities that are in front of me.

And so for me, it was those different possibilities look like my community, my different support systems, different ways that I can self regulate and also realizing and exploring where do I need to start setting boundaries in my life? But also most importantly, what do I need to just sit with? Because life is hard, and I can’t try to life hack my way out of pain all the time.

I have to just learn how to sit with some struggles, and realize this is a really hard thing to deal with, and I might be feeling pain about it for the next two months, the next six months, and that’s a part of my journey. And then there may not be a quick fix to get out of this. I just have to feel it.

And that for me is what really changed my life around and helped me to lean on people versus feeling like I had to be strong all the time.

I don’t think any of us are ever too busy to feel.

I often have to remind myself that busyness is a choice. You know, when you’re filling your days, you’re making a choice to fill your days with the things that you contribute to the way you use your time is in your power, it’s in your control, right? I know a lot of us have to engage in systems of work.

We have to engage in a system of our family unit and tending to those things. But we also have to remind ourselves that we’re not powerless people. And so we still have active choice at the end of the day. And so when you feel too busy to feel, you have to ask yourself, well, why is that? Why have I set my life up?

In a way where I, where I’m allowing myself to be so busy that I’m never really diving into the intricacies of my emotions because our emotions are roadmap and often it’s a guide to helping us understand where we need to set boundaries. So if you’re not doing emotional healing work and reflecting your emotions, reflecting on your emotions, you’re going to continue to feel burnt out, stressed, all of those different things because you’re allowing busyness to be at the center.

Instead of saying, you know what, I need to take a moment to check in with myself and ask myself, do I really need to be this busy? And if I know I have other things that I need to tend to that are an obligation, what are the things that I’m prioritizing that really shouldn’t be prioritized?

Olivia Clementine: And you also talk about this other aspect of healing in terms of cultural healing where you talk about the arts. You speak about the healing of connection of nourishment literally food, music, language that healing is not one way and will you share about that as well because that even ties into these larger avenues of connection.

Minaa B: Yeah, you know, for me, the reason why I share that is because I’m first generation Panamanian and Colombian. Specifically, my family is from San Andres, Colombia. And, you know, Dealing with my mental health as a child, and even when I became an adult, more so when I became an adult I went to a predominantly white institution, and so my graduate program was very White centered, and I feel like a lot of the learning practices were very American focused.

And honestly, the wellness world can be very very much centered around like Western practices. It can be very centered around, whiteness as a culture and doesn’t really factor in literally our ethnicity and the way on a cultural level, a lot of us engage in healing practices. And in my community and my culture, music is a big thing that is healing.

And it’s crazy because I know that there are people who would listen to music from my culture, like soca music or reggae music, and they will say, this is distasteful music. Right? They would not like it. They would probably, if I go to conferences, I don’t hear music from my culture being played. You know, when I am speaking at events, I’m doing certain things.

There are certain healing practices that come from my culture that are never talked about. Never mentioned, and even something as everywhere you go in this society, especially if there’s an event, there’s a DJ. And you will never, I wouldn’t say never, but in my line of work, I have never, right, heard even a song.

That represented my Hispanic and her Caribbean culture. And that honestly says a lot. And I know some people are like, well, Mina, it’s just music, but you really have to ask yourself, is it really just music? What does our music and our American society symbolize to us? You know? And so the reason why I share that is because I wanted people to also realize that cultural practices. are extremely important in our healing journey. And if you are someone who identifies as BIPOC, I think it’s very obvious in American culture that a lot of our ancestral practices can be washed away so that we can lean more into what is perceived as the dominant culture, which is white culture, right?

And so talk a particular way. Our music is a particular way. The things we eat is a particular way. And one of the things that we have to do to reclaim who we are and own our struggles is to tap into certain practices that are honestly created by us and for us. And it doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand it, you know, and I remember.

There were times in my life where like, for example, I would be playing soca music in my car and if someone came in who was not of my cultural identity, I would change the station, right? Something as simple as that, where I had to check in with my own internalized biases to say, why do I feel like I always have to disconnect from who I am and what means something to me to appease other people?

That’s not healing. Healing is this song makes me happy. And if you’re uncomfortable with it, well, you’re a passenger. So maybe open the windows and tune in, tune it out. So that is why I share those different elements, the arts, even the way we dance, all of those things on a cultural level, we all have certain practices that we have to own and say, like, It is okay if I lean into this custom and if no one else understands it, that’s fine because it’s not from their culture.

It is not for them to understand. And I think one of the things that I see often in the wellness world, like I said, is everything is very generic. Do X, Y, Z practices and you might be okay. You go to these conferences, you see the same, maybe races or ethnicities on a stage, or you’re hearing certain things that honestly may not relate to you.

So I think it’s just really important for people to be thinking of their own traditional customs and say, how can I incorporate those things into my healing as well? And think of art, think of music, even think of the power of food. How do you gather? around food what does food meat look like in your culture, right?

What are different recipes that you use? How do you honor people through food in your culture, right? How do you honor community care through the concept of food in your culture? And that also speaks a lot to the ways that we heal.

Olivia Clementine: You also spoke about your way of kind of getting bigger than your environment of developing your own self knowing and your own experience of self-love as an antidote in a way where like you became so much more important than the the influences or the the hate or any of these things.

Would you wanna say a little bit about that as well?

Minaa B: Yeah. You know, I think at the end of the day, One of the things that I started owning for myself when it comes to my identity in this world was recognizing that the love that I have for myself is important. And that is what’s going to get me through day by day.

The love that I have for myself. The next level is the love that I have for the people in my life. But what guides me and what motivates me to continue on every single day is just how I love myself and what I feel I deserve. And when I started to own that, I really started being very selective about what I give my energy to.

Because I can’t fight someone to respect me. I can’t fight someone to see me. If you literally don’t care about me or my well being, then I have to own that you’re being who you are, you’re not safe, and I can decide that there is no relationship for us to have. And instead of me feeling like I have to prove a point to you.

Instead of me feeling like I have to conform to be more likable or more lovable, I’ve asked myself, how do I feel about me? And I called in onto the people that I trust, because I also want to be mindful of the people in my community, how I impact them, and also how they impact me. And so I think for me, one of the things that I just really started to own was that, you know, there are people who have certain beliefs, who have certain biases that, that they don’t want to work through.

And I can’t do other people’s, you know, even in the book I said, I can’t do other people’s anti racism work. I can’t do the inner work for you. And around anything, honestly, whether it be anti racism work, whether it be your trauma healing work, whatever it is, I can’t do that for you. And so if you’re making a choice not to do it and you’re harming me in the midst of that, then I’m realizing that you’re just not a safe person to be in a relationship with.

But I’m not going to dim myself or shrink myself to make you feel comfortable. And so those are the different ways that I’ve been able to really own. Showing up as my full, whole, authentic self, because I care about myself enough, I love myself enough, I know what I deserve, and I’ve also learned to lean on my community and see the way that we impact each other.

And they remind me of what I deserve and who I am, and I want to keep showing up for myself, but I want to keep showing up for them. And so those are the things that I had to really train myself to lean on whenever I found myself wanting to conform or wanting to shrink myself to appease other people, and I realized that was just leaving me miserable.

So I really started leaning on my own inner wisdom and the wisdom from the people that I trust.

Olivia Clementine: So important and so powerful to hear that this kind of leaning on your community also so you can be there for them as well. And, you know, there’s often a pattern of staying in dynamics that that harm us and there can be a wide scale to this like abuse, or a relationship that is not serving us that’s creating suffering. And what do you find are some reasons that we stay in the relationship waiting to heal that relationship, waiting for a person to be ready to mend it.

And we often can stay too long or stay forever. What do you find is the hook for that? There’s many, as well as what are some ways someone can start to move


Minaa B: So when it comes to what is the hook for that, As you said, yes, there are many different reasons why a person would stay in a relationship that is harmful to them and not really healthy.

A few of those reasons could look like their upbringing and their family dynamic. We tend to repeat the patterns of our family members, which is how intergenerational trauma continues to move through the family system. So if I witness my parents… engaging in certain practices and they were tolerating it from each other, I might believe that this is what a healthy relationship looks like.

I also think that when you are exposed to certain relational dynamics even in your family upbringing, You might also be involved in other relationships and friendships where people exhibit some of the patterns you see in your family unit. An example of this will be, I see a lot of the time, single women, for example, who I used to work with a lot.

We’ll talk about wanting something different from what they were grew up around, but then they would get into relationships where they were evident red flags. And they will say, well, this, this is different from my family. But I have friends. Who have tolerated this. I have friends who, when I share this with them, they’re like, Oh, I’ve been through that.

So they’re trying to break a cycle, but they’re still surrounded by people who are keeping them in those dysfunctional cycles because you’re like, well, this is different from my family unit, but I. Have friends who are experiencing the same thing. So I actually think this is normal, right? You know, I think I’m doing something different, but it’s still toxic in many ways, but I don’t realize it’s toxic because I’m going to get, I’m seeking advice from someone who actually doesn’t know the definition of a healthy relationship.

And that is very, very common when I’m working with single women where they would, they would say to me the things that their friends are saying to them, which kind of shows me their friend also doesn’t know what a healthy relationship looks like. So I think those are some patterns that also keep people stuck because at the end of the day, if you’re seeking advice and people are giving you advice and you don’t realize that it’s harmful, right, you might stay in something.

So I think those are some of the different elements I see at play, you know, the family upbringing that I said, but also who you surround yourself with. Because if you’re around people who think the same, act the same and are pretty much doing the same things that mimic some of the behaviors from your family dynamic, or mimic certain behaviors that are seen as normalized, you might also think that it’s healthy to pursue something that’s not really healthy.

I think one of the things that People really have to start doing in relationships is being more in tune. with their nervous system and also leaning into self trust. Because also in my line of work, specifically, like I said, working with women, there is often a lack of self trust. There is a lack of discernment and leaning into that wisdom.

I will listen to women say, basically, they don’t know if they have the ability to pick a good partner or when they see red flags, they don’t trust themselves enough to believe that this really is a red flag. Well, maybe I’m overreacting about this. You see how self doubt pops up. Maybe I’m just being nitpicky.

Maybe I’m just being an insert. the negative label. So I think one of the first things a lot of people have to do is trust that you know what you need to feel safe. I think often we sometimes want love so badly that we tolerate a lot of things because we’re like, well, maybe what I’m asking for is unrealistic.

And when you start compromising safety for love, then that can be very damaging. And it can be an act of self sabotage that turned into prolonged mental health issues because now you’re tethered to someone. And it, and it progresses even worse when you marry them and have a child with them. Right. And I’ll see.

When it seems like it’s too late, where that person has that realization. I should have left the day I met them. I should have left the third date. I should have left after the first month. And it’s been ten years. We have two kids. They’re toddlers. What do I do now? So I think a lot of people have to just be able to ask yourself, What makes me feel relationally safe?

And is this person contributing to that safety? Or are they taking away from it? Are they investing in my safety? Or are they chipping away from my safety? And I think that’s one of the things that I really encourage people to, to lean on because I’ll hear people say certain things, but when you investigate the history of the relationship, the red flag was there the day you met the person.

And now 10 years into the relationship or however long into the relationship, you’re like, this person did this outrageous thing, but they don’t realize this person has been doing micro. Outrageous things for a long time. Now they’re doing macro outrageous things. Now they’re doing things that are on an extreme level, but there were subtle things that were happening before that you disregarded because you didn’t trust yourself.

And you also. Gave passes and excuses to behaviors that again, you’ve been influenced by society or people in your family, people in your inner circle to see as something that’s not worth ending a relationship over. So I really just encourage people to start doing the work of what makes you feel safe, cool in your circle, makes your nervous system feel repaired, nourished and restored.

Because if you’re constantly dysregulated. In a relationship, you need to trust that versus listening to the negative voice that says, Well, you’re not going to find someone if you let this person go, you’re not worthy of love. So look at this person, at least they’re tolerating you because sometimes those negative voices are also what’s keeping us stuck in unhealthy relational patterns.

Olivia Clementine: You talk about this ambiguous grief that single people often find themselves in and I feel like it ties perfectly into what you’re speaking of now in terms of this kind of desperation to get out of whatever that is as well. What is the grief that you’ve seen single people go through and then how do they tend to that so they don’t just leap in whatever finds them that’s better than that grief.

Minaa B: Yeah so the concept is called ambiguous loss the reason why it’s ambiguous is because we can’t really contextualize it the same way if if you go to a funeral you know someone has passed away and we’re celebrating a life Right?

And so we have hallmarks that show this is what we’re doing to honor this loss. There’s a funeral, there’s a wake. You can go to the store and buy a hallmark card for this particular type of grief. But when you’re single, there is a type of grief that grief, not grease. When you’re single, there is a type of grief that exists that can be very hard for outsiders To conceptualize, which is why I think in our culture, a lot of people respond to single people and their despair in a way that feels very dismissing or minimizing, such as saying, well, if you’re sad about being single, then are you even ready for a relationship?

If you can’t sit with yourself, can you even sit with someone? And we come up with all of these different phrases. And ambiguous loss manifests because. What’s happening is when you’re single, you’re desiring a relationship, and often when we desire a relationship, we have created a particular type of person that we can see ourselves with.

However, this person is psychologically present. But they’re physically absent. And every time you meet someone, it’s like you meet this physical body, and that psychological partner that you’ve created, you’re hoping will manifest in this body that you met. And then, it turns out that they’re exhibiting red flags.

It turns out that you just realize they’re not for you. And now, I even say it in my book, where now I have to go back to bed, turning people into ghosts, right? Because now, that psychological being that I stored into this human has to depart from them. And they, we just have to go our separate ways. And so I think it’s really important for us to really sit with the grief that comes with yearning for love, intimacy, and connection on a romantic level.

That is extremely. Normal. Our bodies are wired for connection. And I think it’s important for people to own and realize that connection, connection also falls on a spectrum. And for most of our talk, we’ve been talking about acquaintances, friendships, but we also have to own that romantic relationships are normal and craving and desiring a romantic relationship is normal.

However, the same way in a friendship, a romantic relationship requires consent from another party. So we can create all these goals in life. I want to accomplish this. I want to buy a house by the time I’m 30. I want to Make X amount of dollars by the time I’m 35. I want all of these different things. But when it comes to a partner, it’s really hard to set a goal on that because you can set a goal where I want to meet people, right?

And you can go different places and see if you meet someone, but you can’t force consent. You can’t force someone to like you. You can’t force someone to, to want to marry you. You can’t force someone to want to start a family with you, right? And if you do that, well. Many people will see there are consequences to that.

So when it comes to this concept of ambiguous loss, it’s honestly just owning that you’re yearning for something that you don’t have full control over, and it can be really hard to sit through that, and there’s no… Card at CVS that you can pick up for someone who is feeling despair about being single, right?

We don’t have celebrations for people who are going through ambiguous losses, but we do celebrate the loss of certain things that are tangible and earthside already, right? And so, I think that… I share this because I, one, want single people to own that there is no shame in feeling the things that you feel, and also helping people who are on the outside who want to support their single friends.

How can you just learn to listen? You know, I think in our society, we want to fix people. And when we don’t know how to sit with our own stuff, it’s going to be hard to sit with someone else who exhibits the things that we want to constantly run away from. So if I’m always running away from my pain, how am I sitting in yours?

But sometimes we have to just open ourselves up to owning that. My friend is single and they’re struggling. They went on a few dates recently, it didn’t work out and there’s a lot of pain. And I think also owning that ambiguous loss helps us to also realize that like, as much as it is unfortunate, there is a reason why it’s important to be selective about your partner.

And so there are going to be times when you go on that date. You try to manifest that psychological person in the body that’s in front of you and you realize, oh man, this is not a good fit. And you realize, I can either choose to pursue this. Or, I can walk away in hopes that I will find what I’m looking for.

And if you choose to pursue it, you have to always be honest with yourself and say, Is this an act of self sabotage? Because I just don’t want to turn this person into another ghost when I go to bed tonight. And so, is it healthy for me to continue with what they’re showing me?

Olivia Clementine: On the other side of it. People may be in long term relationships or even early relationships and still there’s a lack of really fulfilling connection and will you speak to that like if somebody is listening and they’re in a long term relationship that they actually want to work on, and they want to move towards something more fulfilling and connected.

What would you suggest some first steps to move towards something more genuine.

Minaa B: Most important thing that we can always do in our relationships is communicate.

I think often people feel very unsatisfied in different domains of their relationships and they don’t talk about it. They don’t say to my, their partner, I don’t feel satisfied with the sex that we have, especially women. I don’t feel satisfied with this, with our sex lives. I don’t feel satisfied with our level of quality of time.

I barely see you. Especially if you’re in a long distance relationship, you have to be communicating. Well, what are the guidelines here? How long are we going to go without seeing each other? How frequently are we going to see each other when we do see each other? Am I coming to you? Are you coming here?

Are we going to meet in the middle? How does that look? Right. People need to literally communicate their needs and express when they’re feeling frustrated or unsatisfied by something. And I think there’s often a lot of shame because we think that if I communicate, I’m complaining and this person might leave me.

We think that if we’re communicate. We’re being too much. We’re being too needy. And this is why it’s important to communicate, however, because I will see a lot of people decide not to communicate with things and the consequences start to arise as they progress in that relationship. So they didn’t communicate about the fact that this is a long distance relationship and now six months have gone by.

I haven’t even seen you and nobody’s addressing the elephant in the room. Neither one of us are bringing it up or I’m waiting around for this person to say something instead of me just owning it and being assertive or I’m in this long term relationship and we talked about marriage two years ago and it’s been 10 years and we still haven’t gotten married.

And that makes me upset. Right? And I’ve also stayed. So why have I stayed this long in something that I know I did not agree to? Right? Something that I know that was important to me and I’ve sacrificed it along the way. We have to talk about the things that feel hard. If we want satisfying relationships, ultimately, it requires you to have hard conversations.

Every time we have sex, I notice that there’s no foreplay. Or every time we have sex, it seems as if you’re only trying to satisfy yourself and you don’t care about, like, my sexual satisfaction. Right? And so we have to share these things with the people that we’re saying, I’m going to make a choice to be tethered to you for the rest of my life, for the rest of your life.

And you want to have bad sex for the rest of your life, right? Or you want to have an unfulfilling relationship for the rest of your life? Is that really what you want to sign up for? And so that is often the number one thing I encourage people to do. And in my book, I say there are different ways you can go about this one.

I encourage couples therapy because some people, especially if you have people pleasing tendencies, however you are outside of relationship, you most likely are going to bring those same characteristics to a relationship. So if you want to please everybody and you’re not assertive, you’re always worried about other people, other people’s feelings more than your own.

There’s a high likelihood that you’re going. I’m going to bring those behaviors into your romantic relationships, but what can also happen is now you’re expecting your partner to do mind reading, you’re expecting your partner to know how to treat you instead of sharing with your partner. These are the things that make me feel loved and appreciated.

And I’m not talking about the basics. of what makes a healthy relationship, such as trust and respect. Those things clearly are non negotiable, right? You should not have to teach someone how to respect you. So I really hope that that doesn’t need to be outlined, but I do understand sometimes that that does need to be outlined.

What I’m saying is your partner might not realize that you really like having flowers. Right? You really like when somebody buys you flowers as an act of love. Your partner doesn’t know that. And then you have to just say to your partner, I really, really love flowers and I would really love for you to buy me flowers every now and then.

Again, that makes me feel really appreciated. If you ever wondered what you can do that, that will just really cheer me up, especially on a day that makes me feel sad. Just bring home some sunflowers. And that will make me feel amazing, right? Because you also have to remember your partner has a relational history.

And maybe in your partner’s past, when he came home and brought flowers, your partner’s ex was like, I don’t care about this. Right. And so we’re teaching people what it means to love us and be in relationship with us. So I encourage those foundations through building those foundations through therapy so that someone can guide you to have those hard conversations.

And of course there are other resources, listening to relationship podcasts listening to different TED talks and reading certain books around. You can. Around the different ways that you can be building your communication and expressing your needs in a relationship.

Olivia Clementine: Is there anything that you want to share that’s, that’s important to you in terms of this book, what you’re really wanting to get across or, or anything else really that feels fresh today for you?

Minaa B: I mean, the main point that I go back to over and over again in the book is the concept of community and realizing that the reason why we have to be doing this self healing work is because we don’t heal so that we exist in a vacuum. We heal because we want to integrate into a community. We thrive in relationships, whether it be a relationship with the boss, a colleague, or even a romantic partner, a friend.

Even when I show up at the doctor’s office and I have to communicate with the receptionist. Do I know how to integrate into society? And so I want people to really be focused on that community care aspect as they read the book. I really encourage people to do the exercises that I outline in every chapter so that you can be really building your relational skills, being cognizant of how you show up in the world, you know?

And so remember that we need to heal ourselves and that’s really important, but don’t forget about the process of community and collective healing as well.