Staying mindful in everything that you do brings many benefits into your life. When you practice being mindful, you become aware of your surroundings, connect on a deeper level with your emotions and live “in the moment”. You recognize your body’s needs, experiences, and senses and have a better understanding of what you really want.
But practicing mindfulness can benefit more than just you as an individual. When it comes to relationships, applying mindfulness techniques can actually help you and the ones you love feel happier and more cared for.
Mindfulness and Relationships
For a relationship to be strong, whether it’s a romantic relationships or those with friends and family, there needs to be both support and attention. You can’t ignore those you love and expect them to happily go on caring for you. In addition, when you ignore others you’ll likely feel yourself caring less and less for them as well. When you’re not being mindful in your relationships, you’re allowing yourself to become distracted, act on your emotions, and exhibit behaviors that will ultimately push the people you care about away.
Many of us do not practice mindfulness in our relationships. We are easily distracted, spend time staring at our phones or the TV, and allow our minds to go blank in an effort to find something to entertain ourselves. We simply go through the motions, allowing our bodies to react for us without really considering what life could look like.
When you apply mindfulness strategies to your relationships, you are deciding to give them your full and complete attention. You truly listen to what your loved ones are saying. You don’t look for other distractions when spending time with them. You give yourself the time to really think through a reaction before you act on it.
Mindfulness can also help you identify the foundation of your relationships and see it for what it truly is. When you are distracted or unwilling to focus on feelings you can’t connect on the most basic level with your loved ones. Mindfulness can help you identify and eliminate negative and toxic relationships in your life. It will enable you to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
How to be More Mindful in Your Relationships
Applying mindfulness techniques to relationships can be a little difficult at first because it involves another individual. It’s easier to be aware of how another person makes you feel and your reactions to those feelings. It’s a lot harder to read another person and see what they are feeling. If you are willing to practice it will get easier and feel more natural.
Ready to start being more mindful in your relationships? Here are a few steps to get you started.
Be Present in Your Interactions
Regardless of the type or state of your relationship, start being truly mindful in each and every moment. Even if you’re just chatting with the cashier at the grocery store, pay attention to what and how things are said. Be mindful of body language and facial expressions. Tune in to what you are feeling. Keep your phone in your pocket, your eyes on the person, and your ears focused on the conversation.
Getting into the habit of being mindful in casual relationships can sensitize you to those things in your more significant relationships. You’ll be able to identify emotions, what is causing those emotions, and see a clear path to developing a more supportive and loving unity.
Learn to Identify and Control Your Emotions
When someone says something that triggers a highly negative or positive reaction, you’re going to feel it. Whether it is overwhelming anger or happiness, be careful not to react impulsively. Unfortunately, those initial emotions usually come and go pretty quickly and then you are left to pick up the pieces of your over-reaction.
Mindfulness helps you identify and control those emotions. First, when you are fully present, you’re allowing yourself to connect to your true feelings. Be aware of your physiological reaction like changes in heartbeat or blood pressure. Become aware of your fears and insecurities. This will help you identify the parts that are coming from you and then you can reframe the situation to gain perspective.
With this new information, you can choose how you want to react to an incident. Instead of lashing out as your first response, you can better assess the situation and make an informed decision about the appropriate way to respond.
Allow Yourself to Connect on a Deeper Level
Being mindful also means connecting with your own feelings. Rather than experiencing, reacting, and repeating disfunctional patterns of behavior, take the time to absorb and process what your mind and body are telling you. Now, focus on the person you are in a relationship with. How is that person reacting? What did they hear or feel? Can you empathize or apologize rather than be “right”? Mindfulness is about relating, empathizing and sympathizing with those we love. Look at the greatest teachers of mindfulness like the Dalai Lama and Thich Naht Hanh. They are among the most forgiving, tolerant and empathetic people on earth.
Without mindfulness we are tossed about in an emotional whirlwind with friends and family. Have you ever felt anxiety or turmoil during large family get togethers or during holiday season? Still your mind, take time to think and breathe. Get in touch with your love feelings. Appreciate that you have these people to love and that they love you. Understand that they too have baggage that is emptying out all over the place and dumping on you. Know that with understanding and calmness the love and caring will come through.
Listen to the meta messages. Listen to what they really need. “Anything that is not love is a call for love.” Empathizing and connecting with our loved ones creates the strong bonds that you both want and need. When you help others meet their needs they will likely help you meet yours. If you listen and watch closely you will learn how to bridge all gaps and mend all fences. By applying mindfulness techniques to your relationships, you’re opening yourself up to connect deeply with the ones you love and care about.