React Less in Relationships with Mindfulness

Regardless of the type of relationship, no two people can agree on everything all of the time. Sometimes we disagree so strongly that it can lead to an argument often caused by instinctive reactions that are triggered by what is being said by the other. We can all remember a time where we have reacted instinctively to something being said that we perceive as hurtful or wrong. In almost all cases reacting instinctively does not serve your ultimate aim which is resolve the argument as quickly as possible in the most amicable way. So by using mindfulness to notice negative emotions bubbling you can teach yourself to respond thoughtfully instead of instinctively reacting.

Instinctive reactions are not controlled actions, they are by their nature actions without thought and stem from your natural instinct to protect yourself. The problem with this natural instinct is that it evolved to protect us from getting eaten by bears when we lived in caves and not for living the lives and relationships we have now. This is why we find ourselves saying things we wouldn’t normally say and regretting them later. An instinctive reaction is an action that is not controlled so you are effectively out of control when you just react. Feeling out of control not only doesn’t feel very nice for ourselves it often makes the other person feel pretty bad too. So anything that reduces this type of behaviour can only benefit a relationship.

By practicing mindfulness regularly you will learn how to intercept the reaction before it happens or at the very least while it’s happening so you can pause, compose yourself so that you can respond in a more thoughtful manner. Just the act of practicing mindfulness regularly will help going into situations where you disagree with another, as your starting point emotionally is generally more balanced and centred. You will also be more aware of your emotions and feelings generally so you will likely be able to raise issues or concerns long before they are likely to result in instinctive and intense reactions.

Relationships test us in many ways, especially emotionally. Mindfulness will not stop you feeling the emotions and feelings that come and go as a result of a particular relationship and it’s interactions. However, being more mindful will help you better understand what you are feeling and help you to react less and potentially do less damage to a relationship that is important to you. You will likely also become more proactive when it comes to discussing issues and concerns about how you feel before they become major problems that can trigger arguments.

A more mindful you will also better understand the other’s emotional state and other factors that may be influencing what they are saying that may hurt your feelings. By having this better understanding and empathy for the other person in this relationship you will be less likely to react instinctively and make better decisions for the good of the relationship. Even if you do get caught out and do react instinctively, a more mindful you will help you recover to a more composed state quicker and with a stronger understanding of how the instinctive reaction will impact and affect the other and the relationship.

John Burley

John Burley lives in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and is the author of Mindfulness for the Mindless due for publication on 2nd April 2018. He is also the director of a software development company producing software solutions to mainly the gaming industry. He blogs about mindfulness at www.amindfulway.blog which has a growing following both on the blog itself, the accompanying Android app and on social media too.

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