Practising mindfulness can mean many different things and has many different benefits, but it isn't limited to your own improvement. You can also use mindfulness to defuse emotionally charged moments between you and your partner. Here's what we mean. Photo from johnnylcy.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool to turn tense disagreements into thoughtful discussions that help you and your partner find a solution that works for both of you. Here's how:
- Focus on your reaction with "attentional mindfulness". This includes noticing how your body is reacting to the conversation (crossed arms, clenched jaw) and what emotions you're feeling (shame, anger, sadness). Acknowledge how you're feeling and that these reactions are instinctive, then let them go so that you can focus on what the issue is and how you can work with your partner to solve it. If you practise mindful meditation, you may have experienced this already with acknowledging thoughts and then letting them pass by.
- Take responsibility with "attitudinal mindfulness." The goal is to understand the underlying factors behind the emotions you're feeling. If you're angry, maybe it's because you're afraid to lose a relationship that makes you feel safe and valued. Taking responsibility for your contribution to the conflict can help defuse a tense situation.
- Turn the spotlight on your partner. Be in the moment and listen mindfully to what your partner is feeling and experiencing. This means that you don't interrupt or think about what you're going to say next, just absorb what they share with you.
Applying mindfulness to your relationship is about acknowledging each person's emotions, taking responsibility and creating space between what you're feeling and how you interact with each other during conflict. Using mindfulness to defuse arguments with your partner won't transform things overnight. Mindfulness takes practise so starting now can help you and your partner get to a point where you both feel heard.
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