Have you ever misunderstood someone? Have you ever reacted to something another person said or did? Have you ever judged another person before checking out whether you actually knew the truth?
This week’s mindfulness tip is about the necessity to NOT react. Mindfulness is the action of staying in charge of your mind and emotions at all times. It involves staying in the present moment, focused on what is happening right now.
Let me give you an example. Susan hears a story about Paul (her husband) from someone she knows and trusts. This story suggests that Paul has been flirting with his new colleague, Sharon. Susan hears this story and in the beginning, she easily dismisses it as ridiculous and goes on about her life with not much thought. But then someone else makes a comment about Paul – how he seems to pay a lot of attention to Sharon – and this time Susan starts to pay a bit of attention. Not long after that, she and Paul attend a social evening for the staff at his workplace. Susan notices that Paul greets Sharon a little too warmly for her liking.
Susan gives him the cold shoulder all evening and talks to other members of his staff. She drinks a little too much because she’s angry. She’s talked herself into a story in her own mind that makes Paul’s actions suspicious and his behavior unacceptable – all without having any conversation with Paul. So on the way home in the car, she picks a fight. She starts to complain about little things – the way he forgot to pick up milk on the way home from the store, his distance from his children, and his neglect of household duties. She becomes increasingly critical about a variety of things, making Paul defensive.
They spend the rest of the weekend snipping and snarling at one another because both feel ‘wronged’ by the other person. If this doesn’t end up resolved, it can begin to ‘sour’ the relationship. Believe it or not, it takes something this little to begin to erode trust and love inside a relationship.
Had Susan been practicing mindfulness, things would have unfolded much differently. From the outset, Susan would have acted from a place of respect for herself as well as for Paul. Rather than convicting him in her mind, she would have opened a conversation with him to share her concerns and what she had heard – calmly! She would have offered him an opportunity to explain, to reassure and to speak to the concerns that had come up. She would have listened to him, trusted him, and treated him as a trusted partner.
Paul would have also practiced mindfulness in his response to her. He would have listened to her concerns as if they mattered to him – because they mattered to her. He might have taken her in his arms, hugged her close and reassured her of his love for her. He could have spoken to her fears in a way that would have put them to rest – completely. That’s all that was necessary. No drama needed to happen – a simple conversation, spoken from a calm place that invited the other person to listen and share their truth.
Handling it this way would have created greater trust, a stronger bond and better intimacy – all foundational qualities of a healthy, loving relationship.
In order to have this type of mindfulness, you need to monitor your own inner response to people or situations so that you don’t let reactions take control. It is YOUR choice. Your life becomes a manifestation of whatever you choose to focus on. Your world will mirror the heights of tremendous love or the depths of great fear – and it is all about the choice you make in each moment…..
If you were in Susan’s position, how would you handle it?