by: E.B. Johnson
It’s hard to maintain a stable and loving partnership without a strong element of mindfulness running throughout. Our mindfulness connects us to our awareness and helps us to connect to that awareness in others. We get more in-tune with our emotions, more adept at communication, and better at managing the ups and downs that life throws in our path. It’s transformative, but it’s a process we must engage in both as individuals and as partners.
Mindfulness is a matter of love.
Mindfulness — in its simplest form — is the ability to be fully present and aware in our mind, our body, and our emotions. On a personal level, mindfulness involves being aware of your emotions and how they impact your mood and the way you connect with the world. In a larger sense, it’s a state of being which allows you to live in communion with the world and everyone and everything in it.
Being more mindful of your relationships allows you and your partner to connect on far deeper levels. Not only will you learn how to be more present, you’ll also learn how to come to one another as equals and diffuse conflict before it erupts.
Stop beating one another up and stop laying siege to the walls of resentment and irritation that have built up over time. Open up to one another and learn how to love yourselves so that you can come to one another with a love that is genuine. Communicate honestly with one another and stop running away from vulnerability. We have to show our true selves to people if we want them to give us true love. Process your hurts and seek mindfulness to heal as partners.
How to be more mindful in your romantic relationships.
Are you ready to be more mindful in your relationships? Are you ready to tap back into your individuality and your compassion, so that you can both be equals and realize better ways to communicate? Mindfulness doesn’t come for the asking. It takes partners who are willing to commit and willing to get active in the name of their shared vision.
1. Become a legend at self-love
Learning how to love ourselves is a powerful thing, but it’s also the first step in the journey to mastering mindfulness inside our relationships and out. Without first becoming aware of our own physical and emotional realities, it’s hard to understand that experience for anyone else. By loving ourselves and becoming more aware of who we are and how we tick, we can find that it’s easier to see that love and that understanding in others.
Before you rush off to study your partner’s emotions and thoughts, spend some time with your own. Where are you at in your life right now? Do you love yourself as much as you love other people? Why? Why not? Loving ourselves is a necessary part of building relationships that provides us with joy and with value.
Compliment yourself. Celebrate yourself. Each day look in the mirror and name 3 physical attributes you love about yourself. Then, name 3 skills or activities that you do well. At the end of the day, just before bed, take out a journal and write down all the emotions that you had throughout the day and why. Look back over this journal weekly. What are the patterns arising and how are they helping or hurting you? This is mindfulness.
2. Work things out as equals
Do you and your partner see one another as equals? Or are you living in a constantly off-balance power struggle? There should be no one partner who has more say-so or “worth” than the other. We should come to the table as equals, or not at all; with an array of skills and visions that complement one another and the directions you’re heading in life. Failing equality leads to a mindfulness shutdown and even emotional volatility too.
In order to be mindful of one another, you both need to understand that you’re dealing with the challenges of life, and doing the best that you can. Nothing comes easy to anymore when you peel back the curtain. Hold this to your heart and hold the knowledge that — just as you’re struggling with your emotions and thoughts — your partner is battling theirs.
Before you explode on your partner (or take your disappointments out on them) ask yourself — what could they be experiencing hardship just like me? We all have challenges in our lives, and understanding that makes it easier to come to the table as equals. Know that whatever feelings or stressors you have, they have them too. Realizing that we share in the struggle of being human and building a life together enables us to see one another as standing side-by-side on the path.
3. Process your responses first
So many of the problems in our relationship come from over-thinking and our tendency to act before we speak. This type of reaction comes from a place of emotion which, while powerful, is not always rooted in reality. Our emotions aren’t always truth (though they are real), they’re just our response to natural situations. Rather than allowing our anger and our hurt to get into the mix, we have to focus on solutions over our reactions.
Stop lashing out at one another a giving in to your baser instincts. Being mindful means recognizing your negative emotions and controlling them before they turn into major issues. Step back from one another and commit to processing before you react to mistakes, missteps, or setbacks that get in the way of your relationship.
Always look to the future. If your partner hurts you, you need to talk about it — not blow up in a heated confrontation. Give yourself some space and think through what you want to say. What do you want your ultimate outcome to be? What direction do you want your relationship to take? Focus on the future and always strive to ensure that any action you take together is action that moves you positively toward that future that you’re building together.
4. Communicate earnestly and often
Without communication, there can be no real mindfulness in a relationship. We have to open up to one another in order to display our feelings, needs, and expectations. Failing to do this, we both wind up stumbling in the dark looking for answers that we don’t even have the questions for. Earnest communication is the only way to get on the same page, and it’s the only way to hold space for one another mindfully and with compassion.
Don’t hold back when you need to talk things through with your spouse or loved one. Once you’ve had a chance to process how you feel, sit your partner down and communicate those realizations to them. Be candid, but also be compassionate. Leave out any blaming language and focus on what you know best — your thoughts and your feelings alone.
It’s important not to allow your communication to become a one-way street, however. Leave plenty of room for your partner to respond and express their own issues or hangups. Listen to them actively and try to not to get defensive or otherwise upset. Approach one another with cool heads and the understanding that you’re doing the best you can. Take it slow and reward yourselves for opening up and being honest with one another.
5. Be more intentionally individualist
It’s hard to be mindful for ourselves (or our loved ones) if we’re completely lost or absorbed in our relationship. Our sense of self is crucial in guiding us through the challenges and upsets of life. When we lose this, we lose touch with our emotions, our presence, and our awareness. It’s toxic. We have to cultivate our individualism with our partnerships and realize the power of our own authenticity.
We need our own space, our own identities, our own friend groups, and interests in order to thrive on our own. In order to thrive within a relationship, we need to be happy with who we are. It’s a self-affirming circle and one which we can’t really escape. You need to be yourself, and you need to use this to rebuild your confidence and sense of purpose.
Embrace the power of individuality. Be yourself so that you can be a better, mindful partner. The more comfortable you are in yourself, the easier it is to deal with your toxic or negative feelings. It inspires bravery, and it encourages us to do better by our partnerships and the lives we’re building together. Don’t allow yourselves to become lost in the process. Be present and open in who you are. Embrace your individuality and through this become a better and more mindfully loving partner.
Putting it all together…
When it comes to building relationships which bring us joy and fulfillment, mindfulness plays a big part. Through mindfulness, we connect on deeper levels and enjoy heightened planes of communication. We also learn how to be present with one another and equals in all we say and do. If you’re ready to transform your relationship from the inside out, start with mindfulness of self and mindfulness of your partner.
Master the art of self-love and cultivate a greater knowledge of self so that you can be more aware of and attentive to your partner. When we are self-aware we become more present and conscious of our loved ones and their emotional states too. Come to the table as equals and realize that you’re both just human beings who are capable of both great mistakes and great growth. Don’t react. When things become charged, walk away and figure out what you really want and how you want to proceed. Put resolution before your pride and communicate with one another earnestly and honestly. Relationships take time and hard work to piece together. Embrace who you are and through that build a more mindful life together.
- Carson, J., Carson, K., Gil, K., & Baucom, D. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35(3), 471–494. doi: 10.1016/s0005–7894(04)80028-5