Living mindfully is easy enough when things are going your way. But the challenge comes when you’ve encountered a difficult problem with a family member or at work. Maybe your spouse said or did something insensitive that really hurt you. Or your kids are acting up. Whatever the situation is, you’re being bombarded with lots of emotions all at once.
The natural reaction is to want to blow up and just let it all out. While this solution feel better to you at first, this approach can cause long term damage to your relationships. Learn how to deal with life’s stresses mindfully and see how much better you feel.
Begin With Awareness
Often, we want our emotions to be heard, so begin by noticing and acknowledging how you feel. Say something simple to yourself like, “I’m angry that _______ did _______ Take a few deep breaths. Pray a simple prayer while you’re doing this. Notice any other emotions you feel bubbling to the surface like anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, or jealousy.
Analyze Your Emotions
Where are these emotions coming from? Are they linked to something that happened recently? It’s important to pause and ask yourself if your emotions are in reasonable proportion to what happened. For instance, we might react to a minor incident because we’re not acknowledging a problem in a different area. If one of your kids spills something on the kitchen table you might be tempted to lose it with them. But if you take a minute (or more) to pause and regroup, you might realize that you’re angry about some other unresolved problem and took those emotions out on your child.
Think the Problem Through
When your frustration or problem has to do with someone else, think about it carefully before you decide to confront them. Give it a lot of time. Have you been projecting your emotions on to them? Are you willing to step in their shoes for just a moment to look at this situation from their perspective? Most importantly, be ready and willing to listen.
Consider the Alternatives
Sometimes, a frustration or problem comes along that can be handled easily. Ask yourself if you can change the situation. For example, getting angry about difficult relatives or insurance companies isn’t productive and doesn’t solve anything. Ask yourself what your real choices are and what might be the best way to handle the situation.
If you have a coach or mentor you can contact, you should do that. Ask them for guidance on how to tackle this problem effectively. Often another person can provide a fresh perspective that can help you look at the situation in a new way. You could also reach out to a small group or community that you’re part of. Your small group can give you the benefit of several different perspectives you’ll probably find out you’re not the only one dealing with these problems.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t handle every frustration or problem mindfully. Instead, simply acknowledge that you could have dealt with the situation differently and move on from there. Mindful living isn’t about getting it right every time or being perfect. It’s about living in this moment.