Practicing mindfulness is a buzzword these days. While complex in nature, the root of the idea boils down to: “an awareness and acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, and environment.”
However, too often mindfulness is a concept that is applied in an overtly self-centered manner. I see the value around me. I am living in the moment. I am feeling less anxious. Do you see the problem?
A self-care approach to this life-changing practice only gets you halfway there. In order to unlock the true potential of mindfulness, it’s essential that you apply the concept to the relationships you maintain with others around you as well.
Taking into account the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of your friends and family will deepen your relationships and unlock a new sense of positivity that will naturally impact everyone involved.
How to Stay Mindful in Your Relationships
While achieving true mindfulness is something everyone must learn on a personal level, here are a few suggestions for ways to spur that learning journey forward. Use them to gently encourage yourself into a radically new approach towards your relationships.
Practice Active Listening
One of the greatest relationship challenges that human beings struggle with is genuinely hearing each other. How often do you spend time, while someone else is speaking, obsessively focusing on what you’re going to say next? Stop right there.
The next time you’re having a conversation, whether it’s with a parent, a childhood friend, or your two-year-old, make a concerted effort to actually hear them. The practice of actively listening to others is simple yet profound. Strive to listen to others with all of your senses. Give them your full attention. Put yourself in their shoes.
This concept extends beyond maintaining conversations. If you’re getting someone a gift, for instance, make sure that you listen to their interests without superimposing your own thoughts and opinions on them. You may assume that your father, for instance, wants some new fishing equipment because you remember that he went fishing a lot when you were growing up. However, simply listening to him talk nostalgically about his time in the military could show you that something like a challenge coin might be more appropriate.
Communication is Key
Along with active listening, it’s important that you yourself properly communicate with others. Communication is a key element of any relationship.
A parent that is frustrated with their child must communicate their expectations properly. A spouse that is angry at their partner must take the time to express why they’re disappointed or upset. A wounded friend should take the time to explain to their companion that they feel taken advantage of or hurt by their actions.
In other words, along with genuinely listening to what others have to say, make sure to respectfully communicate your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions back towards them whenever appropriate.
Technology is a blessing and a curse. It enables siblings that are half a world away to stay in touch. On the flip side, it can just as easily weasel its way between friends who are spending time together by tempting them to look at their phones rather than each other.
If you want to be mindful in your relationships, you must make an effort to utilize technology for the good while simultaneously ruthlessly stomping out its negative effects. If, for instance, you’re hanging out with friends, don’t hesitate to use your phone to snap a selfie to remember the occasion. Heck, you can even print out a physical copy to display proudly on your coffee table.
If, on the other hand, you’re feeling tempted to take to social media in order to vent about an argument with your significant other, fight the urge to do so. Emotionally vomiting about others on Facebook is insensitive and is only going to force a wedge into your relationship.
Focus on Experiences
Finally, remember that relationships should never revolve around gifts or how worthy a person is of your investment. Transactional thinking like this is self-centered and can be extremely debilitating.
If you’re in a relationship with someone, focus on experiencing life with them — no strings attached. Time spent evaluating the worth of others based on your own needs can be hurtful towards those that you share life with. In the same vein, buying things and giving gifts out of insecurity and a desire to convince a friend that you’re worth building a relationship with is a fool’s errand.
If, for example, you’re low on cash, don’t break the bank buying expensive gifts to “win the affection” of those that you love. Instead, try planning a budget-friendly experience to do with your spouse or a friend. Pick something affordable and then dive in with a passion for investing in your relationship through the experience itself.
Mindfulness in Relationships
Active listening, communication, proper use of technology, and an experiential focus are all excellent tools that can enable mindfulness in your relationships. However, it’s important to remember that these are just that — tools.
The most important thing of all is to maintain a healthy attitude as you go about bringing mindfulness to your relationships. What are your motivations when you engage with another person? Is your inner dialogue taking them into consideration? Are you feeling insecure or confident as you work towards a deeper relationship? How is this affecting your attitude towards the person?
If you can begin to shift your inner thinking in a positive direction, you’ll find it quite easy to extend mindfulness to all of your relationships without difficulty.
Photo is from pexels
Guest Author Bio
Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
Blog / Website: Magnolia Potter