How Mindfulness Can Help Relationships Thrive

Relational mindfulness is a humanistic practice of compassionate communication. The goal is for partners to share vulnerably and listen empathically to achieve a more meaningful connection through deeper understanding. In relational mindfulness, we do not focus on solutions because they take you out of your heart. Rather, the focus is on developing greater awareness and compassion for yourselves and each other. Love is not a deal; it is the result of feeling seen and heard without judgment.

Practicing relational mindfulness requires the courage to face the fears and negative beliefs that get in the way of your ability to express yourself genuinely. It also requires that you accept the fact that no two people can perceive things in the exact same way. The realization that your partner cannot read your mind compels you to increase your self-awareness and move your relationship beyond immature reactions that confuse, frustrate, and keep you distanced. If you want to be understood, you have to show your partner who you are, flaws and all, and clearly express your feelings and your needs.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not easy, even in a loving relationship. It can bring up old wounds and the fear of being hurt or rejected. But to achieve a truly intimate relationship, you must take the risk to let your partner in and express what you feel. The more you open up, the more you say things out loud, the less power the fear has over you. Thus, the more you grow as an individual, the better it is for your relationship.

At the core of relational mindfulness is also the concept of putting yourself aside, which means temporarily putting aside your needs, opinions, and beliefs so that you can be fully present for your partner and see things from their perspective. Putting yourself aside is one of the most challenging skills in communication. It means holding back the urge to defend and resort to reactions that must first be unwound before you get to the real problem. The more you practice this skill, knowing you will have your turn later, the greater satisfaction you will gain from providing this openness for each other.

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