I think back to someone I once knew, and his parents were a good example of non-mindful relationships. The parents had been divorced for many years and one of them had remarried but they were still (after around 20 years) out to get each other. These were people in there mid to late 50’s. Surely they should know better right? Even the ex-husbands new wife played the game. There was no forgiveness, no letting things go. Just holding on to pain. The problem with this was that they had taught their children (now in their 30’s and 40’s) that it was acceptable to judge one another, hold a grudge and worst still, carry hate in your heart. No doubt they will teach their own children this as well and so the cycle will continue. A long line of damaged relationships and emotional baggage as heirlooms. It’s a travesty.
“What is a mindful relationship?” You are probably wondering. On the face of it, it’s simplicity itself. A mindful relationship is non-judgement, compassion and empathy. In practice it’s hard, very hard. It’s hard because all that non-judgement and compassion has to start from inside. You have to lose the shitty self-talk and the negative attitude towards yourself for starters. That age old saying ‘you have to learn to love yourself first, before anyone else will’? That’s exactly what they meant.
Here’s how it goes:
- Start from the inside. Clean up your self-talk. Be compassionate with yourself. Quit being a judgey judgerson to yourself.
- Remember, your head isn’t made of glass. People can’t read your mind. If someone has crossed a boundary with you, you need to voice it calmly and if possible, kindly.
- Be compassionate to those around you. Listen to their needs, spoken or unspoken. Seriously, treat people how you would like to be treated.
- Try not to judge. When you judge, it’s a reflection of how you feel about yourself. If you catch yourself judging, remember to be compassionate with yourself and take a step back from the situation.
I see people around me and watch their relationships with each other and will them to step out of ego-mode long enough for them to see how much easier it would be to get along if they only let go of the things that actually don’t matter. Yes, it’s ok to have days when you feel aggravated or moments when your blood sugar is out of whack so you feel like tearing someones head off momentarily. The serious issues happen when it carries on for hours, days, weeks or more. We have all these emotions to deal with in a day so it’s expected that we are going to feel the negative ones at some point in a day. What is not acceptable is dragging those with you and throwing them at anyone close to you.
What to do when someone is being awful to you.
- Ask yourself; are they truly being awful or are they just not being tactful? Do they know they are being awful/hurtful?
- Let them know; your head (again) isn’t made of glass. They may not even realise they have upset you. This may be banter to them or normal behaviour. If you don’t tell them, they may never know.
- Take a step back; give them time to digest the truth bomb you’ve just landed on them. Don’t get into an argument. Say what has upset you (kindly) and leave them to think on it.
- Pick up your friendship; once they’ve had time to think about what you’ve said, go back to them and let them know you are ready to draw a line under it and start again.
This is the best way to settle issues with people. It stops people walking all over you and opens a clear line of communication. If, after this, the other person carries on treating you badly it’s worth considering whether you need them in your life. Respect starts from the inside too and if you allow people to treat you badly your self-respect will begin to dwindle. Self-respect is a lot like money… you spend it a lot quicker than you can build it up!
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