Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.Sharon Salzberg
So many times when we feel uncomfortable or disrespected, it (usually) isn’t because people are intending to make you feel that way. Rather, they just aren’t being mindful of their audience–intended or not–and may be speaking without their “filter.” Growing up my siblings, my parents, and I would always remind each other to pay more attention to what we’re saying and to whom by just saying, “filter.” Just like a filter keeps impurities from getting through, mindfulness keeps unintended and possibly inconsiderate words from getting through. There are a few things that can help you be mindful when it comes to interacting with others:
Be aware of your surroundings.
When you’re in a public place, you can’t expect for anything said to be private so be mindful of who may be listening. I am vigilant at patrolling this because I work at a restaurant/bar where there is a variety of a customer base from groups of young adults to families with small children. For the most part, people are good about monitoring themselves and having children appropriate conversations, but on occasion I’ll have to remind them of who is listening.
On a different note, I find that it can be very therapeutic to vent sometimes… and it is absolutely okay to let all of your thoughts and feelings out, but be aware of your surroundings. Find a private place, or maybe wait until you’re at home with a loved one. One of the nice things about going about venting in this manner is you don’t have to think about who could be listening when you know what your settings are.
It’s really all about being conscientious of unintended listeners. We can control what we say and to whom, but we aren’t always aware of our surroundings.
Be considerate of experiences others may have had.
There is a time and a place for controversial conversations may come up, and this is where many people forget that others may have had different experiences. Rather than approaching these conversations with a closed mind, offer compassion for those who may be struggling and don’t force your opinions onto anyone. Give yourself a minute to listen and respond with compassion because you never really know what a persons past looks like beyond what they have portrayed.
I notice this happens a lot when people are making a harsh moral judgement. You may believe what you believe and have great reasoning for it, but be sensitive when it comes to these discussions. Again, you never really know what experiences people have had in totality.
Like I have said, we all come from different places and experiences, so give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone is unwilling to go somewhere or do something, be mindful that they might not be in a great financial spot or they may have had an awful prior experience. Be okay with taking no for an answer.
Any time something happens in my life that upsets me, I always try to look at it from a different perspective. I might feel like something is unfair or someone has done me wrong, but I try to see the situation through their eyes–understand what they are going through instead of focusing on how it is impacting me. Being mindful that others may be having harder times than you can give you a better perspective.
Adversely, be mindful that the circumstances you are in might be influencing the things you say or do and correct that accordingly. If you look at how awful it feels to be on the other side, why would you want to take out your issues on anyone else.
When I go through a moment where I have just a sudden burst of irritability, I think of where that emotion is actually coming from so that I don’t project that feeling onto anyone else.
That being said…
Be organized with your emotions.
This doesn’t really make sense because emotions are anything but organized–I just mean to not let one emotion you were feeling from a situation before be projected onto something or someone in a different situation. Be mindful of the fact that a lot of us do this: we come home irritated from a bad day at work and then take out the irritation on our loved ones. I am guilty of this, but I try to handle it on the drive home from work. I don’t want to bring bad energy home with me, but it does happen.
If I find the one thing that spiked that emotion, I can try and squash it before I walk through the door; however, those days I can’t, I just give that situation what it deserves, thank the Lord that day is over, and try and start new at home. That being said, some things I do to have that new start include:
- Putting on a good-feeling song
- Wash my face and brush my hair
- Change into comfortable clothes
- Make a cup of tea
- Put my feet up
It’s crazy how much taking care of your body can reset your emotions. It’s, also, probably that little bit of time that I give myself to be alone. If you give yourself that reflection time, you can become more considerate when it comes to interacting with people.
Mindfulness comes down to having compassion and consideration for others in your life–being aware of how you are interacting and communicating.
What are your tips and tricks to staying mindful?