Relationships are at the centre of our life: whether it’s our spouse, children, parents, co-workers, clients, patients, students or customers. Our greatest moment of joy or pain is in our relationships with others. Developing mindful awareness with self-compassion can help us create more understanding, harmony and love in our relationships.
Mindfulness and Self-Compassion improve our relationships because it helps us to turn down the dial on stress, to be more confident and calm. By becoming aware of our ‘automatic’ reactions or ‘mind traps’, we can reduce overreactions. Being less defensive, we are able to listen and to respond to what is truly happening rather than what we assume or fear is happening.
By learning Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, that is by learning to attend to our struggles and needs, we also, become more aware of other peoples needs and struggles. Self-compassion is the ability to reconnect with ourselves and others, recognizing that we are all in the same boat as human beings. Life is difficult for all of us and we all suffer: that is the human condition and because life is so tough, we can help each other.
When we practice mindfulness and meditation we are becoming more aware of how our mind naturally wanders and where it goes when it is wandering. By noticing when our mind is or is not present we can better observe what is really going on at the moment. We know more what is happening inside our head, we are more conscious, so we behave less on ‘auto-pilot’. We realize that feelings and thoughts can come and go like the weather. We become flexible; being able to choose ways of thinking and acting that are more in accordance with our long term goals.
In the practice of mindfulness and self-compassion, we acquire a greater understanding and empathy of our self so we can attend to our self and our partner more effectively. As we learn to be more attuned to our self, our ability to attune to our partner increases as well. When we are having a difficult time with our partner or someone at work, we can recognize our stress in the moment and effectively reduce it so we can more readily engage in problem-solving rather than emotionally react, to de-escalate the conflicts. By practising mindfulness, we are able to be aware of our feelings and thoughts in the moment and avoid automatic impulsive, habitual or destructive reactions.
Mindfulness and self-compassion mean paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgments with acceptance and compassion so we can reduce our negative knee-jerk reactions we often bring to our relationships. It helps us to better manage our physical stress reactions, regulate emotions and calm fears and anxieties – all very important if we want to maintain healthy, positive relationships.
We can rewire our brain so that instead of having a fight with our spouse when we are stressed, we can have a meaningful conversation about the real issues that matter to both of us. We still have the emotions but we don’t let them run the show.
Mindfulness combined with Self-Compassion can help you re-wire your brains so that you are not at the mercy of your maladaptive habitual knee-jerk reactions but instead it places you in the driver’s seat to enable you, in the heat of the moment, to make choices that serve the relationships rather than perpetuate conflicts. Over all it allows you to gain greater understanding and clarity so you can have better relationships at home, at work, with your family and friends.