“What should I do when he gets mad at me for telling him how I feel?”
“She doesn’t get that I need time when I get home from work.”
“What am I supposed to do when he continually sends me text messages all day, and I can’t get right back to him? He thinks I’m cheating on him.”
“How do I get her to understand?”
And on and on……..These are some of the statements I hear in couple’s therapy….
Being in a relationship is not easy. In fact, it can be a lot of work! The trick is to make the “work” worth it. To make it worth it, you need to do the “right” kind of work and you need to have faith that the challenges you face in your relationship are absolutely there for you to personally learn and grow to be your highest self. Chances are that these opportunities to grow would not exist if you were not in the relationship, so it’s worth taking advantage of the very thing you are trying to avoid! Doing the “work” also decreases conflict with your spouse or partner, increases your enjoyment as well as the satisfaction you get from the relationship and life itself!
Now, the trick to taking advantage of the opportunity when it arises is MINDFULNESS.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., in his book, Full Catastrophe Living, states, “Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness.”
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Another good way I like to think of it is being in the moment and paying attention on purpose without judgment. Without judgment is critical, especially in relationships!
I see many people in marriages, long-term relationships, or even short-term relationships who become completely overwhelmed as soon as their spouse, partner, girlfriend or boyfriend acts in a way that they suddenly perceive as being negative.
There are some simple steps you can take to increase your ability to be mindful in relationships or anytime. And, being mindful is the start to decreasing conflict, increasing connection, and to ultimately growing into your best and most authentic self.
The simple steps to help you cultivate mindfulness when overwhelmed in a relationship are:
- Notice your breath (if in the middle of a conflict, stop, don’t say anything, don’t do anything to add to negative consequences).
- Notice your body sensations and thoughts without judgment (the no judgment part is very important).
- Trust that the uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful sensations and thoughts will naturally pass.
- Continue to notice your breath.
That’s it! Sounds simple, right? It takes practice and continual renewal. You will find, though, that with time, being in the moment while not judging yourself or others will benefit you and your relationships tremendously.
I hope this serves you and your loved ones, and remember, it takes practice, commitment, and non-judgment. And is well worth it in the long run.
If you or you together with your partner would like more one-on-one support or couples counseling, and you are interested in working with Rachael Stracka, LCSW, please visit the Services menu for more information.