Mindful Patience

Everything in life takes time! For example, how many times have you rushed to just wait? Or you get stuck behind a car going too slow. Or your newborn has a messy diaper just as you are ready to leave the house? Or the service rep puts you on hold for 15 minutes?

As you are waiting, you start feeling your blood boil and before you know it you are snapping at everyone. Losing your patience just brought you an onslaught of interpersonal problems as well as physical stress.

Have you ever noticed how impatient people tend have fewer friends? Impatience makes us sound like “know it alls,” act impulsively and treat others with insensitivity.

Those who show patience are mindfully aware of themselves (see references for more information on mindfulness), their surroundings and their situation. They are typically sought after, trusted, promoted and viewed as more likeable by others. Consider asking your close friends and family about their impressions of you when you are calm versus when you are angry or irritated.

How to develop Mindful Patience

We can better modify our impatience when we know more about our wound-up behaviors from someone else’s perspective. Rather than taking their feedback personally, try to accept it and, in little ways, pay mindful attention to your physical signs and behaviors.

Some of us can’t tell when we are being impatient because we are so caught up in our own reactivity. Most likely when you are inpatient you display shortness of breath, tenseness, restlessness, irritability, and anxiousness. You are probably not aware that your mouth seems dry, your fists are clenched, and your expression would freeze water.

Think for a moment about a time when you felt that feeling of impatience building inside you. What set your impatience off? Was it the traffic, temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, being questioned or something else that put you in an impatience spiral? What did you recall seeing, feeling and hearing back then? Try to jot down a few notes and you’ll see the roots of your impatience emerge. Understanding your triggers and reactions can lead you toward resolution.

Practicing patience doesn’t mean ridding yourself of all anxieties, but rather catching yourself before your impatient attitude gets the better of you.

Here are some soothing, mindful strategies that could turn an impatient frame of mind into a calm one:

  • ·         Catch a few slow, deep, cleansing breaths to slow down your blood flow and lower your blood pressure.
  • ·         Try relaxing from head to toe to loosen the tension in your skeletal muscular especially in your neck. Tense and release your muscle groups, one at a time, from head to toe.
  • ·         Imagine yourself taking a mindful pause as you stay consciously alert to your bodily cues.
  • ·         See your next step as a chance to contemplate. Why not choose to do the opposite of rushing. For instance, move deliberately slower and act thoughtfully and calmly.
  • ·         Late? Change your attention from what you are going to lose to what you can gain from the extra time. Take advantage of the opportunity that is in front of you.
  • ·         Encourage yourself to mindfully listen and try to put yourself in the other’s shoes.
  • ·         Take another mindful moment to talk yourself out of simply reacting by focusing on what you can gain from keeping your composure.
  • ·         Rehearse what you want to say by using a peaceful tone.
  • ·         Tactfully mention your lateness as you gently relate to the circumstances at hand.
  • ·         Experience the benefits of an unjumbled mind and the relief in your body.

If you find yourself unable to manage your reactivity using this mindful sequence, consider counseling, anger reduction classes, yoga or meditation.

References

See other blogs here for background and discussions of mindfulness applied to everyday life problems.

Dr Unger’s books on mindfulness: “Calm,” “Courage,” “Sleep,” and “Happy” are available through Barnes & Noble. “How to be Content” and “How to Make Space” will be available in the US on Amazon in late July 2018.

Colier, Nicole The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in A Virtual World. Amazon.

Lucado, Max, Anxious for Nothing. Google Play.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201209/the-power-patience

Sisko, Alden, Ultimate Guide to Developing Patience. Barnes & Noble.

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Mindfulness and Finding Life Balance – Part 10 – Arguing Mindfully

Arguing Mindfully

People argue — even in the most loving relationships. The image of Mindfulness is one of peace with oneself and the world, but that is not reality. So how do you argue mindfully?

It may sound counter-intuitive but conflicts can lead to closeness.  The only exception is when people become deliberate or malicious in their intent to hurt one another with their temper, tone and words.

With that said, arguing typically occurs when our requests for nurturing, reassurance, or space fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately, too many couples start arguing when they are either hungry, tired, bored, overwhelmed or lonely.  Under these conditions, arguments that start off as calm disagreements can easily degenerate into swearing and yelling matches.

This kind of arguing can leave each party feeling emotionally barren or wounded. More often than not, mismanaged rather than mindful arguing can easily mess up our future plans, happy occasions or even a good night’s sleep.

There are no winners in these kind of disputes.  Sometimes they can last for hours, days or even weeks.  Running away from arguments altogether actually can make things worse for everybody.  Stockpiling mental ammunition against the other usually leads to withdrawal.

Unresolved arguments are no better.  They can deepen resentments, cause festering, and drain our motivation to be mindful.

How to Argue Mindfully

The key to mindful arguing is to shift attention from nasty fighting to gentle conflict resolution.

Mindful arguing can occur when the couple accepts responsibility for their emotions and avoids blaming, judging or shaming.

Besides shifting your focus away from the person to the problem, owning your part of the argument, and saying sorry when you screw up, try practicing the mindful mnemonic “LOVED” below.  In doing so, you’ll likely feel more energized and cared for by your partner.

Being mindful when arguing takes practice, but isn’t rocket science.

The LOVED Mnemonic

L:   Listen how your partner expresses their concerns

O:  One at a time, take turns breaking down the problem

V:  Validate and reflect back what you see and hear your partner say using “I” statements

E:   Express why this issue is important to you right now

D:  Discuss with calmness and ease how things can be made different and decide on a possible solution to test out

 References

William Harley, PhD. How to Create Your Own Plan to Resolve Conflicts and Restore Love to Your Marriage. www.MarriageBuilders.com.

John Kabat-Zinn, MD. Mindfulness Based Stress Management.  https://psychalivemedia.pivotshare.com/media

Mindfulness and Finding Life Balance – Part 3 – Abusive Relationships

 Can Mindfulness Free Us From an Abusive Relationship?

A Mindful approach to living may afford us the opportunity to free ourselves from the ravages of an abusive relationship. By practicing the ABC’s of Mindfulness: Attention, Balance and Concentration) we gain the clarity to find peace and move away from drama.

The A in ABC means that our ATTENTION is necessary to stop acting out of fear and to stop avoiding our own needs. When we don’t attend to our self-defeating behaviors, we stay stuck in our denial and convince ourselves that things can be a whole lot worse or they can only get better,

Although, we may not have caused the abuse, staying in the relationship keeps us emotionally unregulated and off-balance. The B in ABC pertains to our need for BALANCE in spite of our chaotic existence. Accepting our need for equilibrium will lead us to replace the abusive dynamic with one that is more aligned with our personal values. We are out of balance when our lifestyle doesn’t reflect what we truly need.

Lastly, the C in ABC stands for CONCENTRATION. Without positive concentration, we are not able to separate ourselves from the abuse. By focusing on hope, we can start believing that we don’t have to be the victim for life and that we not only deserve a healthier relationship, but that there is one actually within reach.

Self responsibility without judgment is the cornerstone of Mindfulness. It moves us toward self-empowerment which in turn helps us heal from the hurt. As we take steps to save ourselves, the healing process begins and we become open to the wealth of supportive resources around us. This may include, but is not limited to, turning to family, clergy, close friends, therapy (face-face/online) and/or self-help groups. Such avenues of help will hopefully illustrate that love alone is not enough to stay in a controlling relationship.

Along with love we also need results, healthy intimacy, and respect. Second to financial stress, the thing that mostly traps us in abusive relationships is the overwhelming concern about what others might think, or say, about us. Our fear and distorted belief system gradually fades away when we develop realistic expectations. For example, we may think that we can only be happy if we are with someone despite how bad that person may be for us. By forcing ourselves to look in the mirror, we can admit that being in an abusive relationship is not only keeping us disconnected from those we love, but from our inner selves.

Once we begin to assume responsibility for the life we were given, we can improve our existence even if it is by being by ourselves. Choosing an Mindful path allows us to observe our hurt instead of acting it out. Staying open to possibilities and taking life as it comes can help us move away from self-sabotaging behaviors and live our truth. This process, although not immediate, allows us to choose conscious living over our need to stay stuck in a toxic environment.

Over the years I have heard many of my patients say that staying in abusive relationship because of finances was far worse than having nothing, starting over, and being free.

Adopting a Mindful stance helps us remove the blindfold often associated with abuse and to stop hiding behind our shame. Most victims of abuse learn from an early age to pretend that nothing was really amiss. By using the ABC’s of Mindfulness mentioned above, we can stop living a lie and seek the immediate professional help we need to get well.

The poet Jose Harris eloquently sums it up for us:

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

 

References

Rebecca Adams, “Free to Soar: My Journey Out of Abuse to Freedom.”

Megan Kennedy Dugan, “It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence.”

Jose Harris, “There Comes A Time…”

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