2 Ways Mindfulness Helps Your Relationship
The people around you are pretty good at knowing if you’re not engaged or distracted.
You may be mind wandering, or ruminating about what went wrong that day. Even worse you might even be checking your phone for email or messages in the presence of others. No one likes being phubbed (phone snubbed).
Being in the present moment can not only help you enjoy an experience, but it can also help you bond with the people around you.
Psychology research says it can also help you stop some otherwise destructive behavior that could ruin a relationship.
Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation
A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that people who were more mindful were less likely to engage in negative behaviors arising from conflicts with their romantic partners. They were also less likely to suffer from rejection fears in their daily experiences.
Being mindful means your ability to live in the present moment in everyday circumstances. What psychologists call “dispositional mindfulness”. Think of it as a personality characteristic where one is constantly aware of their thoughts and feelings as they happen.
But this shouldn’t be confused with mindfulness meditation, a popular activity which concentrates your focus on the present. However, some people do employ mindfulness meditation to increase their dispositional mindfulness, to gain a better moment to moment awareness outside of the activity.
2 Reasons Why Mindfulness Helps Your Relationship
The researchers looked at romantic couples who had been dating, on average, for about 2.5 years.
For anyone that’s been in a long relationship, at some point you know you’re going to disagree. You’ll probably get on their nerves and probably make some mistakes along the way. Hey, no one’s perfect.
But mindfulness, they conclude, can help during the times when not everything is going great in the relationship. The author’s say that this is:
…the first evidence that greater present-centered awareness reduces rejection fears during daily conflict and attenuates destructive reactions when rejection concerns arise.
Basically it helps in the following two ways:
1. It helps reduce fears of rejection during conflict.
2. It keeps you from performing negative behaviors resulting from conflict that might put the relationship into a tailspin. Behaviors like open hostility, disengagement, or being dismissive of your partner.
For example the researchers noted that people with low self-esteem and low mindfulness were driven by lots of fear, causing them to cope in negative ways. However, people who had low self-esteem but high mindfulness were less anxious and also exhibited more stable behaviors.
Changes In Your Brain’s Fear Center
The researchers believe that being aware of your inner thoughts and emotions help you deal with negative emotions in a healthier way. And avoid any destructive reactions that come along with it.
In essence, your behavior becomes less of a knee-jerk reaction to unpleasant feelings. It helps to understand what’s happening and why. And to also realize that it’s just a temporary state.
Other research will be needed to determine causality, but there’s reason to believe the scientists are on the right track. Research that has looked at people who practice mindfulness mediation have noticed less gray matter and activity in our brain’s amygdala – a part of the brain that’s associated with fear.
Being mindful can keep us centered and present. But it seems that it has added benefits for people in relationships. Especially for those who may be low in self-esteem, or have higher anxiety about their romantic partners.