As you probably know, mindfulness can improve your relationship with yourself, allowing you to be more aware of how you’re feeling and reacting. But did you know that mindfulness can also significantly improve your relationships with others? ‘Cause it can.
Here’s the thing: When it comes to relationships, both romantic and otherwise, we often operate on autopilot. We tend to assume that what’s worked in the past (in this relationship or in previous ones) will work in the present. But each person and situation is unique, and past reactions or habits don’t always mesh well with the present moment. This is why it’s so important to cultivate mindfulness in your relationship. The more you stay in the moment—during the good times and the bad times—the more you’ll be able to make the most of the relationship. A 2013 study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology looked closely at how difficult discussion impacts cortisol (stress hormone) response and how both genders can use mindfulness to respond more skillfully to conflicts.
Mindfulness in relationships, however, can be difficult. Sometimes we’ve grown so used to our habits that we aren’t even aware of them. Or, if we are aware of them, we might be so comfortable with them that we don’t want to change them (even if they’re making a relationship difficult). This is how some people can be addicted to drama, even as they complain about how much they hate it in their lives.
In the past, I struggled to stay mindful in my relationships. I often worried about where the relationship would go or found myself ruminating about past situations. In order to combat the mind games I played with myself, I came up with the T.A.P. Method. Inspired by Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, I came up with three things to look for when dealing with the thoughts you might have about a relationship: