any people assume that every relationship rests upon the work that two people collectively put into it. And it is true that relationships, especially intimate ones, call for working together to reach resolutions, since a relationship should always be a two-way street. However, achieving true harmony requires individual work on the self — you cannot bring true peace and happiness to another person if you cannot create that same contentment for yourself.
This is not to say that vital work in a relationship is only done by yourself. Instead, think of the work done by yourself and together to function in tandem, to require one another in order to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. Keeping yourself satisfied and content will immediately make you better equipped to care for another and lay the foundation for a truly healthy and sustainable relationship. Consequently, when both you and your partner practice and subsequently apply this mindfulness to your own lives, you both are committing to bettering both yourselves and, in turn, your relationship. Rather than allowing one of the two basic components of your relationships to fall — yourself or theirself — choosing to make this leap into personal work creates stronger pillars of support for the both of you.
Whether or not you have incorporated some aspect of mindfulness into your own life already — this can range anywhere from regular exercise all the way to transcendental meditation — you can begin to add elements of mindfulness into your own life to better handle stressors within a relationship, making you a better partner. Inserting just a few simple habits into your daily or even weekly routine can create substantial material changes into how you handle problems within yourself and your relationship.
If you are new to mindfulness or would like to try new elements of the practice, perhaps you could try embarking on this journey with your partner! Not only will this institute healthy habits and mindsets into your relationship, but practicing mindfulness together will hold you both accountable in ways that doing it by yourself would not. This journey to create healthier selves will create a stronger relationship where both you and your partner understand how to care for yourselves and each other in new and more loving ways, producing a newfound appreciation for your relationship.
Open Your Heart to Yourself and Your Partner
Mindful practices like journaling or open dialogues allow you to better understand your feelings as well as your partner’s.
Having regular and deep conversations with your partner can create a profound impact and rejuvenation in your relationship. These dialogues require deep listening and intentful speaking and ultimately give you a better understanding of how your partner is feeling, what bothers your partner, how you can work towards providing proper support for your partner — and the same applies for your partner to yourself. However, you can only be equipped to hold conversations at this level if you understand how you are personally feeling and doing.
One simple way to filter through your own feelings is to begin by simply looking into the mirror of your soul, reflecting on your own thoughts, opinions, hopes, feelings, aspirations, or fears by yourself. This can be done in many ways, but a particularly effective option is to regularly journal. Journaling is an especially great option for any person struggling with mental health issues like depression or anxiety, as the habit has been shown to better assist in managing and coping with the two.
Everyone begins journaling at different spots or with different intentions: before you begin, consider what you specifically would like to get out of the habit. Are you journaling to show appreciation and gratitude in your life? For mental health purposes? Regardless of primary goals and reasons, journaling remains a powerful and reflective tool that creates an immense opportunity for you to change your perspective and understanding of your world — remember this when you start to lose motivation or sight of why you began in the first place!
A simple place to start journaling is to simply hold yourself to a regular schedule, a quick entry everyday is a great origin point. Creating a strong habit will make you less likely to give up in the future. If you find your journaling to be helpful, ask your partner to join you in this habit! Practicing this together allows the two of you to filter through everyday thoughts and feelings in a personal and safe space, putting you both in a better headspace and orientation to discuss these things with each other.
Having meaningful conversations is not easy to do on a regular basis — these dialogues require you to decenter yourself from situations, perform immense amounts of emotional labor, and confront difficult and uncomfortable feelings. You do not want to enter conversations not knowing where you stand, as that will only create a situation where you are figuring out what to say rather than intently listening to your partner. That’s why journaling is a great place to start. If you can do just a little bit of personal confrontation and reflection by yourself, you automatically create a clearer perspective to more effectively discuss intimate feelings with your partner. Listen to your partner and allow yourself to expose the intimate feeling you hold. It may be hard at first, but with regular effort you can begin having powerful, revealing dialogues that strengthen your relationship and lift the both of you up in the meantime.
Encourage and Engage with Emotions
Emotions are powerful states of the mind that should never be repressed.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase, “Don’t let your emotions get the best of you,” at some point in your life. Although sayings like this are beneficial in some cases, they often encourage a repression of your emotions rather than a confrontation. In a relationship, emotions will likely run heavy at some point or another, but this is expected and a good thing. Emotions are powerful sensations that are connected to primal reactions, and if properly addressed, can be some of the most beneficial parts of a healthy relationship.
You may be thinking that this is all well and good and all but not entirely insightful information. However, ask yourself when the last time you confronted an emotional state rather than attempted to suppress it. We usually try to combat sadness with things like joy or laughter or anger with calmness instead of facing our emotions head-on. This fixes short-term issues and feelings, but does nothing to help you identify and resolve personal issues at their root. By simply telling yourself, “I feel this emotion, and that is valid,” every time you begin to be overcome with an emotion, you can begin to understand how said emotions manifest and how to work through them. Similarly, explicitly acknowledging and validating your partner’s emotions creates a trusting and supportive space for you both to express yourselves fully.
In relationships, emotions can often run the entire ordeal. Moments of happiness are pined for while those of sadness and anger can — if not properly engaged with — end up staining a relationship for the worse. Encouraging and engaging with both your emotions and your partner’s constructs an environment of mutual validation and understanding, an environment where a relationship can thrive.
Actively working with emotions can be easier said and done, but you can start with simple mindful practices like deep breathing to assist you into better understanding your and your partner’s emotions. When you feel like your emotions are veering towards unwelcome, take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. Doing this will prevent you from acting rashly in response to your emotions and consequently causing pain to yourself and your partner. Encourage your partner to not shy away from personal emotions as well to create grounds where you both can feel comfortable sharing what emotions you are feeling, why, and how to move forward.
Cultivate Mindfulness into Everyday Situations
Add a few mindful rituals to recalibrate and refocus your life.
Mindfulness goes beyond just an action here or there, but these actions set the stage for a lifestyle of wellness and wellbeing. Taking care of yourself is a vital step in any relationship, something that is often forgotten by those whose main focuses lie entirely upon their partners rather than themselves. Incorporating mindful exercises like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your life allows you to decompress and focus on yourself, body, and feelings. Staying mindful when getting in touch with these things allows love to flow from you — a nourished body and soul can only give support and love to those around them.
Being a mindful partner and person can alter your entire perspective, resulting in a shifted worldview and mindset. You have the power to change the way you see and receive things in this world, and you have the power to make yourself and your partner feel better and more supported. Staying in touch with yourself is just one step in a lifelong journey towards mindfulness, but these changes in self-behavior do not only affect you. Being mindful of yourself makes you more mindful of others and able to provide the personal support that helped yourself to your partner and others.