5 Ways for more Mindfulness in Relationships
Do you want to improve improve your relationships this year AND be more mindful?
Hello 2018! I am typically not one to set conventional resolutions, but rather I enjoy making intentions for the upcoming year. As an individual relationship counselor, I often see my clients coming into the New Year with the intention to improve relationships. Most often their goals are to communicate more effectively, take things less personally, listen more, and react differently. Ideally they want to be more mindfulness in relationships. Sounds great, right? Now how do we accomplish that?? Learning mindfulness in relationships is a fairly large, somewhat abstract goal.
I am all about setting ourselves up for success in order to actually achieve growth, rather than to just talk about it. In my therapy practice, I encourage my clients to start by making small changes; changes that focus on the positive. In other words, what you WANT to do, as opposed to what you want to STOP DOING. I regularly receive feedback as to how surprisingly effective
these shifts are toward reaching bigger goals and making lasting changes. Starting small sets us up for success; we can build up to a longer duration and more frequency over time.
I have broken down 5 ways to incorporate more mindfulness in relationships that are small, attainable, and totally do-able for everyone no matter what stage or type of relationships you are in.
The #1 way for more mindfulness in relationships:
Put Away Electronics. Phones, TV’s, tablets, and computers are the antithesis to mindfulness. Put your electronics somewhere out of sight and away from you while engaging with others. Commit to not checking your phone until an appropriate time allows. This permits you to be present with the person you are with, lets them know they are important, and gives you the opportunity to take a break from the social media trap. Trust me; it will be there when you get back.
The #2 way for more mindfulness in relationships:
Practice Identifying What You Are Feeling. Being able to label our feelings is an invaluable skill. When we become more aware of how our feelings show up in our bodies, they become less scary and surprising, especially in relationships. I recommend looking at a feelings wheel or feelings list for a wider range of emotions. Practice this alone or with your partner. Use this in conjunction with number 3 and 4 for maximum effectiveness.
The #3 way for more mindfulness is relationships:
Pause. Do you notice that you react immediately when in conflict? Learning to pause has profound benefits towards becoming more mindful. When we become activated, the “alarm system” in our brains is turned on. Hitting the pause button and taking a deep breath, even just for a few seconds, signals our system to return to a more effective level of functioning. This supports us to mindfully act instead of impulsively react.
The #4 way for more mindfulness is relationships:
Observe Without Judgement. In addition to identifying what you are feeling and pausing, observe the moment without attaching meaning to it. Our feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are. Therefore, they deserve no judgement from us as to what they imply. If you notice that you often feel angry, observe that anger. How does it show up in your body? What is your initial response to the anger? Honor and acknowledge the feeling, chances are it will change just based off of your observation of it.
The #5 way for more mindfulness is relationships:
Reflect What You Are Hearing. In relationships, it is common that we are thinking of what we are going to say in response to another before that person has even stopped talking. Practice
reflecting what you hear the other person say before responding with your perspective. You may notice that you feel much more present in your relationships and your partner will probably feel more heard!
Start small by practicing one of these skills each week to improve your mindfulness in relationships.
Mindfulness is a continual exercise. Click here to learn more about it. If your intention is to be more mindful in your relationships, these tools will help and you may notice your relationships thriving in new ways. I wish you all healthy, flourishing, and fulfilling relationships. Happy 2018!