I started my “back to relationship basics” mission last month. My goal is to give you the key tools and education you need, then break things down into small wins so you can build momentum and hope and change your relationship for the long-term. Last month was all about competition and keeping score and how you’ve got to eliminate it if you want a connected, intimate relationship.
This month is going to be all about mindfulness and self-awareness because without it, none of those great tools I teach will work! You know I’m telling the truth because you’ve been there. You’ve used tools, made some changes but, before long you were backsliding into old behavior. The changes didn’t stick because you’ve got to have these other basics down first and then you can start looking at all those great communication tools (which I’ll be covering next month, so stay tuned).
I’ve said it before, mindfulness and self-awareness are the most important things in your relationship. When you learn the tools and concepts I’m going to be teaching this month, you’ll be able to drastically change your daily happiness level and greatly improve your connection with yourself, your partner and everyone else. I’m going to have a great download available for you too so you can really practice what you’re going to learn today in just a few minutes a day all week (as promised in the title).
Before we get to all the good stuff, I have an ask: If you haven’t yet, pretty pretty please leave an honest review of the podcast wherever you download. It would be so much to me and helps other people know if this is right for them. Just leave a sentence or two about why you listen – what makes it different or special.
First, I need to explain the difference between self-awareness and mindfulness. Awareness isn’t always mindful but mindfulness is always self-aware.
I think of self-awareness as more meta, head-based and intellectual while I see mindfulness as more in the moment and heart-based.
Self-awareness is all about being consciously aware of our feelings and agendas and looking to bring those to the surface of our awareness. It’s similar to mindfulness in that you become aware of your motives, thoughts and desires but it’s really a bigger process of getting to know yourself and figuring out your blind spots.
Mindfulness is all about having a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts and feelings, non-judgmentally. When we’re mindful we accept our thoughts and feelings without judging them.
With mindfulness, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts are homed in on what’s happening right now and there’s no looking back or forward.
The vast majority of the issues you have with your partner are because you’re not being mindful even though you might be self-aware! For example, I’m self-aware that I have a big tendency towards controlling behavior, especially when I’m feeling fearful. I’m actually painfully self-aware of this trait. However, even though I’m self-aware, I still catch myself being controlling!
And that’s where mindfulness comes in. When I’m consciously aware of how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking in a moment, I notice the controlling thoughts and feelings arise and then I’m able to take a breath and not act on them. I’m able to redirect my thoughts back to the moment where all is actually OK – no lion is about to eat me and my partner is not, in fact, acting like my mother so I don’t need to be mad at him.
Here are the biggest benefits you’ll get for being mindful:
- You’ll have fewer arguments. When you’re mindful there are less miscommunications and misunderstandings which means less arguments! Give your full attention and it’ll help you notice when you’re reacting to something they’re saying. It will also help you remember what was being said so you can follow up!
- Less resentment: When we’re mindful, we’re giving our partner our full attention. Nothing feels better than that!
- Better overall Emotional Regulation: When we see our partners as threats, the fear part of our brain, the amygdala, hijacks the brain into fight, flight or freeze mode. That’s when we go on the defensive, say things we don’t mean or shut down. Regular mindfulness shrinks this response from the amygdala so you’re able to act, not react much more easily. You can see the upsetting emotions or thoughts with more distance and less attachment. You develop the ability to NOT react to every emotion or thought you have.
Resources and Links:
Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation: Insights from Neurobiological, Psychological, and Clinical Studies