Practicing Mindfulness With Your Partner by Elana Clark-faler, LCSW, CSAT, CST, CGP

Taking responsibility for your own thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviors isn’t a demonstration of weakness. It’s quite the contrary. You are acknowledging that your perception might be off. You get an opportunity to find out what your partner was really thinking or feeling, without going with your first perception, which could lead you both into an unnecessary conflict. You are also practicing mindfulness by observing thoughts and making a choice to take stock in them or desgard them. 

Responsibility takes an ability to be mindful. Mindfulness comes from Buddisim beliefs and practices. This is the active practice of being aware. Mindfulness can give you the ability to be conscious of yourself, others and your environment. Mindfulness allows you the ability to make a choice if you want to attach to specific thoughts or not. You might be fused with your thoughts. Meaning, you may believe every thought in your mind. You might believe the thoughts in your mind are your intuition, so they must be correct or true. You have approximately 50,000 thoughts a day and a majority of them are false beliefs or made up from fear. Our thoughts are impacted by our past, cultural beliefs, traumas, memories, television, and etc. Not everything you think of is the truth. In fact much of what you think is false. Being mindful allows you to be aware you’re having thoughts. You can see the thought and you are bigger than that thought. This means you can choose to attach to it and grow the thought seed or you can see the thought and discard it. You have a choice, when you are actively practicing mindfulness. When you don’t practice, the thoughts can be seductive and take over your mind. When the thoughts take over the mind, the body follows suit. It will increase emotion, increasing the heart rate, lung activity and digestive system. Now, we’re off to the races. The emotion can enhance thought, causing panic. Now your worst memories are coming true. 

Mindfulness practice can give you the ability to slow down and recognize the thought. You have the ability to observe the thought and decide if you want to incorporate it in your system. You might decide to get more evidence before attaching to the thought. Asking your partner curious questions (being mindful of your tone, time and approach) would allow you to decide if you wish to incorporate the thought into your system or discard. Mindfulness can be an excellent tool to use in order to practice responsibility. The skill of mindfulness allows you to pause, notice, and become aware. Mindfulness reduces impulsivity. It gives you a chance to observe all the pieces before reacting. You learn to respond. 

There are many resources available to you to practice mindfulness. There are many ways to meditate. You might want to research the right fit for you. Some people like guided meditations. Others like complete quiet. Headspace, an application you can get on your smartphone offers education and guided meditations on mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you become aware of thoughts, perceptions, emotions and actions you’re having and you can take personally responsibility for them. When you slow everything down, your body, your mind and your engagement with your partner, you have a choice. You have a choice to take action on a thought or not. If you take notice you took an action that didn’t go well, you can self-correct with your partner. You get to change your mind anytime you want. 

There is the intention of your words, and how they actually land with your audience. Intention and impact are two different experiences. Intention is your original aim or plan. You may have intended to give someone a compliment. However, the impact may have felt like an insult because of the delivery. The impact is the way your words land with your audience. No matter your intention, the impact may land in a way that you never planned or intended. Unfortunately, the intention doesn’t really matter. The impact does. Because you are trying to communicate with your partner, and language is one way to express yourself. Expressing yourself can land in ways that can affect others both positively or negatively. You might say, “I need to express myself no matter how it lands.” And you should communicate your feelings, because they are very important. However, understand if you have a goal, your actions and communication must match that goal. No matter how mindful you are of the impact, you still might impact your partner negatively. 

An example of language you would use when taking responsibility for thoughts:

I made-up that you were angry with me, that’s why you weren’t talking to me; is that true?” 

I told myself a story that you were frustrated with me, is that true?” 

I had a thought that told me that you were embarrassed to tell me the truth, is this correct?” 

Using these pre phases demonstrate to your audience you are trying to give some flexibility to your thoughts and you are taking personal responsibility for your own thoughts versus indicating you know “the ultimate truth” and you have made it so. You are taking a non-hierarchical stance, taking personal responsibility for your thoughts and being open to other possibilities. This demonstrates to your audience you care about this person’s feelings and want to take special care to not assume you are “right”. This curious stance and language takes your partner off the defense. It’s very difficult to communicate with your partner if they are heavily defended. It’s like talking to a wall. You want to take your partner off the defense, by presenting yourself as a safe person.

Elana Clark-Faler
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