How can you be more mindful in your relationships? Mindfulness is usually associated with anxiety and stress reduction. But mindfulness is a powerful tool, and it can be used to create a healthy foundation for intimate relationships too. By Staying present in our modern day relationships we learn how to successfully navigate the way we date, love and marry in today’s world.
Thanks to social media and apps like Tinder, hooking up and starting new relationships is easier than ever before. Falling in love has become simple. Staying in love, and working on your relationship however, is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Mindfulness can teach us how to foster healthy and supportive connections, where we feel listened to, respected and loved.
I had an argument with my husband last night. Its normal, it happens in any long term relationship. Instead of blowing up and reacting, I practiced mindfulness and we solved the problem quickly. Practicing mindfulness in my intimate relationship has changed the way I look at conflict.
Conflict happens, we cannot run away from it, but we can change the way we respond and behave. We can turn our problems around and use them as a means to find a solution. Improving our relationships every day. So, it made me think that I should share some mindful relationship habits with you.
One of the regular arguments I have with my husband is around social media. Often while he is talking to me I sit and scroll through my phone. First of all this is rude, but I also know that it shows him that I am just not there. I don’t pay attention…I am sure many of you can relate? Ultimately, Its disrespectful. It shows my partner that I don’t value what he has to say.
Practicing mindfulness means we try and connect and become aware of our interactions with the another person. You are able to switch from being absent to being more attentive, and this allows you to hear what your partner feels and needs in that given moment.
It’s really simple to do. Next time you have dinner or spend quality time with your significant other leave your phones at home. When your partner speaks, really listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to answer, or agree with what they are saying, just sit and try to understand what they are trying to communicate.
How often have you had an argument with your partner and said things you didn’t mean? When we feel threatened we lash out, get defensive and lay blame. This is not helpful at all. We end up feeling powerless. We shut down emotionally and don’t get to solve the problem at all.
An emotionally reactive person responds to situations, events, and feelings impulsively and without thought. This hasty behavioral response is usually a sign that the person is caught up in their feelings, and they allow them to take over. Often a reactive person, is tired, fearful and stressed. The problem here is that our emotions and feelings are more often than not heightened experiences of what we truly feel. The level of intensity makes rational thought seem impossible. The trick is to use mindfulness to tone it down and evaluate your response.
The aim of mindfulness is to move from reacting to responding. Becoming aware of your feelings. If you lashed out because you were angry – be angry, it’s O.K. The trick is to take a step back, figure out what made you angry and respond appropriately. Learn to move away from the chaos of arguments, and ask for what you actually want.
Before practicing mindfulness, when I felt stressed or sad about a situation I used to go silent and withdraw from my partner. He never knew what was up! This doesn’t help anyone. Many of us have developed unhealthy responses to our emotions.
When we get angry we may act out, shout and scream. Some of us may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to forget about an uncomfortable feeling, or like me you stop communicating all together. If you don’t manage your emotions properly, you never get to solve the actual issue and it will more than likely rear its ugly head again.
Emotional regulation is the ability to respond to your emotions in a healthy way. When you master your emotions, you don’t stop feeling, quite the opposite. You take your feelings in all their glory and release them in a healthy and freeing manner. Sometimes, this means we just need to sit and contemplate, get in touch with how you feel and stop trying to avoid feeling.
Or the next time you feel stressed, depressed or angry try do these simple things instead. If you have a fight with your partner, and feel like you need to explode, rather go and exercise or just take a walk. Once you are calmer, come back and try resolve the issue.
If you are feeling blue or stressed try and write your feelings down in a journal. No one has to read it, just get it out. Other great ideas include meditation, yoga, or talking to a therapist.
Mindfulness helps you to observe when you are behaving inappropriately, and you become aware of your unhealthy and destructive behaviors. If you practice mindfulness more energy is spent redirecting your thoughts and energy into something of value. You take responsibility for your own actions. You acknowledge your flaws, and then spend time trying to work on them.
For example, notice if feelings of jealousy pop up when your partner talks to another person. How would you usually act? Is this behavior justified, or are you overreacting? Do you overstep personal boundaries and snoop on your partners cellphone or computer. How could you manage these feelings differently?
Mindfulness celebrates the miracle of being human, and it makes us more empathic and compassionate toward the people we love. It encompasses all that we are – happy, joyous, fearful, and anxious people. We are imperfect beings doing the best we can. With compassion, we are able to express love and acceptance toward our partner. Empathy gives us the ability to see our loved one for who they really are, without judgement. This mindset creates a relationship where mistakes happen, forgiveness is a part of living, and moving forward is the only way to go.
“A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other”
Check out this interesting and valuable TedTalk around healthy romantic relationships for a better more mindful you!
But happiness requires some work, so I challenge you to put the work in! Instead of focusing all your energy on fighting, moaning and arguing with your spouse – Take up mindfulness it is easy and achievable. You will thank me.