Lisa Love, MS, RN has been a mindfulness-junkie before it was a thing, which probably means she was a mindbody nerd before that was even a thing. http://www.mindfulguidance4me.com
Relationships are a work in progress. Foundational to having healthy, sustaining, nurturing relationships is the quality of your connection to yourself and the present moment. From that foundation, we then create better connection with others.
When difficulty arises, lean into the scary places and see how open and vulnerable, curious and loving you can be. Like an interpersonal yoga stretch – it’s uncomfortable at first, but gets easier and more flowing with practice.
Here are thirteen ways to lean in and practice. See if choosing one practice per week is helpful. Review every day, to get your bearings and set an intention to notice opportunities to stretch yourself.
1 - Contrary to popular belief, other people don’t cause our feelings. Our thoughts and past experiences do. Try not to blame others for your current feeling state. Take responsibility for your feelings – own them rather than project them onto others. Be curious where they originated – see if you can trace the feelings back in time, locate where you feel them in your body. Breathe and sit quietly with them, observing how they change in intensity.
2 - It takes only one person to make a relationship better – if you are willing and capable. This is not to say you can manipulate your partner into staying – it needs to come from a genuine desire to be the best partner you can be. Ask of yourself: “How can I contribute to this person’s wellbeing today?” Invite a daily practice of selfless-service.
3 - When words and actions are disconnected, trust erodes. As Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Be impeccable with your word!” Mean what you say and back it up with timely action. Under-promise and over-deliver.
4 - Consider you have an emotional bank account between you – in order for your relationship to be healthy, there need to be more deposits of good will, loving intention and caring action than withdrawals. Reflect: when’s the last time you made a conscious deposit?
5 - Words can hurt or heal. You can never take them back or erase their imprint. The beat of your voice sounds the drum of your listener’s ear. Choose your words wisely. Use the least amount of force necessary and be generous in assuming your partner’s intent. You can apologize, but don’t let this become a habit.
6 - When your partner is speaking, listen with your heart (and to your heart) rather than planning what to say next. Listen deeply to the person you are with and your connection will strengthen. Allow for the space to reflect and comment on what you just heard. Give the gift of being fully present with one another.
7 - Being stressed out does not justify disrespectful behaviour. Lovingly take space to sort yourself out before trying to engage, or ask for support before you snap.
8 - Reflect on what kind of impression you’re willing to leave behind. Your every word, deed, and facial expression leaves an indelible mark upon your loved one’s heart, mind and soul. Tread lovingly.
9 - Realise you needn’t see things the same way to get along. Appreciate and acknowledge your loved one’s perspective, even learn from it. Seek to understand and avoid the pitfall of insisting others see things your way.
10 - Find as many ways as possible to create moments of joy and gratitude – it’s more powerful than any other approach to restoring harmony.
11 - Accept and honour your limits and respect your loved one’s limits. Ask, rather than demand. It usually gets better results.
12 - Sometimes a loving but firm “No,” is the best way to protect your connection with someone you care about. Use the outer “No” when you anticipate you will feel resentful or over-stretched by saying, “Yes” to a request. There are limits to selflessness. Recognise yours.
13 - Use an “Inner No” when your partner or loved one is agitated, blaming, or triggered. Kindly, from your heart, simply say an inner “No,” three times to what they are tossing at you. This will help cultivate compassion without disconnecting. Ask for assistance from the Helper of Transformation to step in and guide your process. Be proactively present rather than reactively disengaged.
You needn’t know who this Helper of Transformation is for it to work. Just suspend any disbelief and give it a try. Belief can evolve with experience. If you are open and sincere, good things can happen without knowing how. It’s been absolutely great in my life – for those occasional stubborn impasses you catch yourself in.
With repetition, you will consciously build new habits that will become automatic over time. We would love to hear what changes take shape as you practice – your sharing can inspire others.
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