With this guest post, we welcome Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Kimberly shares her approach to building relationships through mindfulness.
A mindful approach in a relationship is one in which you are open, receptive, non-judgmental, and in the present rather than reliving the past or predicting the future, when you are interacting with your partner. Differences enrich your relationship in many ways.
Enthusiasm will come naturally when you are in a mindful state and realize the value you receive from being aware of your partner’s perspective and experiences whether they are similar to yours or not. Imagine the disagreements that could be avoided when taking a mindful stance. Try these approaches with your partner and see what you learn about them and yourself.
1. Change is the nature of life. Mindful partners are less threatened by change because they know change is inevitable and it is happening in every moment. From a mindful approach, the partners see the current context of a situation occurring in the relationship or in their partner. Grasping and holding have no place in a mindfully based relationship.
2. Bring novelty to the relationship by doing different things, together and apart. Remember that liking similar things did not correlate with a high level of satisfaction with the partner. Novelty doesn’t have to always be entirely new things, but variations of what you normally do. For example, cooking or eating food at a restaurant where you’ve never eaten before, watching a totally different movie or concert, or reading each other’s favorite magazine. Afterward have a meaningful conversation about your experience. You’ll be enriched from sharing your novel perspectives and you’ll learn more about your partner when you exchange perspectives in an environment where it’s safe have a different point of view.
3. Be open to and engage with your partner when they share something with you. Everyone likes to feel they are heard, known and seen when they share. Bringing your focus of attention to your partner for the minutes the conversation takes can make a big difference to them, avoiding repetition and hurt feelings.
4. Take responsibility for your state of being by regularly asking yourself if you’re in a mindful or a mindless state of awareness when relating to your partner. If it’s mindless, shift your attention into the present by focusing on your breath for a minute and observing what is actually happening inside and around you in that moment. Stay in that space until you are focused in the present in the moment. Maybe you are hungry, or tired, or irritated from work and therefore relating to your partner mindlessly. First you need to address what’s taking your attention, then you can be mindful toward your partner.
5. When conflict is of a more intense nature, discuss the details of each of your points of view to provide your partner a clear understanding of your perspective at this point in time. The partners in a mindful relationship remember not to let what was once true get in the way of what is currently true for each other. It’s easy to slip into automatic thinking or mindlessness. Here you make assumptions that you know what they “really mean” and stay in a conflicted state that may not exist. Actively listen and consider your spouse’s existing of point of view.
6. Celebrate your differences. See the value in having different points of view. There are probably more than a few you can find when you look at the situation mindfully: in the present, with a curious and open mind, without prejudgment, based on the past experiences in the relationship. The differences between you keep things interesting. Two intelligent minds can be better than one when you need to solve problems.
Kimberly Wulfert, PhD is a clinical psychologist in southern California, practicing since 1989. She uses mindfulness-based therapy with adults, specializing in anxiety related disorders. She also is a Coach to women over 40 who want to develop their relationship with their power, purpose, right brain and spiritual self to revitalize their personal or professional life.
Http://KimberlyWulfert.com/Coaching Cultivate, Integrate, Act