If you've been following my blog, you have likely found a few themes run through my posts. Now, this may surprise you, but I am so excited to show you how someone you probably know and love demonstrates the theme of mindfulness. It's Cookie Monster! Can you believe a Sesame Street character offers such great lessons in relationship skill-building?
Mindfulness is the art of being present and aware of your moment-to-moment experience. Only when we are emotionally present and self-aware can we have fulfilling relationships with our partners. Cookie Monster describes this as his own ability to "#controlmyself" when he is faced with a tempting bowl of cookies. That lovable monster used to constantly fall victim to his impulses, but he's since learned to take a step back and react to pressure with finesse.
If your initial impulse or reaction to an issue in your relationship is negative (say, when your partner irritates you), it will probably be beneficial for you to take a step back and practice mindfulness like Cookie Monster does. So often, we get lost in peripheral layers of our experiences that aren't really true to who we are, and our partner gets the wrong message about what's really going on.
When we let external stresses control our priorities, we set ourselves up for distance and misunderstanding in our relationships. You may take for granted the fact that your partner means so much to you, and they very well may not know this important piece of information! If you lash out at them, it makes communication all the more difficult.
If our partner feels far away from us or does something to annoy us, many of us get "into our heads" and our blood starts to boil. When we immediately feel angry and hostile toward our partner in this way, it is tempting to lash out at them. This may be the easiest short-term solution, but it's not conducive to longterm relationship health. Here's a tip — do as Cookie Monster does: "Me Wait!"
Take a minute. Breathe. Wait before you lash out.
First, ask yourself this: What effect will lashing out at your partner have on your closeness? Probably not the desired one. He will try to protect himself from your "wrath" and back away from you. From a purely strategic position, getting angry and hostile toward him is going to have the opposite effect than what you want, just as bingeing on cookies will leave you feeling simultaneously too full and very empty. He will withdraw from you even more (or you will have a stomachache!)
Second — and this part is more difficult — check in with yourself and ask what's really going on. Sure, you are angry, frustrated and exasperated, but underneath all that, is there anything else? Is there some fear? Some hurt? Some desperation? Maybe you feel neglected or invisible, or question if your partner even cares about you. If some version of the above resonates with you, you are not alone.
In fact, many people experience these raw, painful feelings underneath the seemingly stronger ones of anger. The problem with this is that we aren't always conscious of these deeper emotions. As follows, we are never able to show them to our partners. And in turn, our partner sees us as a raging monster who doesn't put effort into communication. To avoid this issue, mimic Cookie Monster's new sense of self control and start communicating with mindfulness.
Of course this means that you actually have to let your partner into that experience too, which can be quite difficult. Let's start for now with the basics. With a little patience, "me wait" can transition into "me love."
Cheers to your best relationship,
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