How can we find our way back to a centered state of being after going through an emotionally charged event?
The emotional turmoil that follows a stressful event or an upsetting exchange can unleash any number of negative stories about ourselves or others that go on and on in our mind to a point beyond being useful. For instance, when you have an argument with your partner, your mind may end up replaying the dreadful conversation all day (or night) long, which in turn will feed feelings of anxiety, loneliness and unworthiness far more than is necessary. Have you ever stopped to think about how all this rumination makes you feel?
A little bit of Mindfulness goes a long way and will help you put things into perspective so you can better deal with the task at hand, regardless of how stressful a situation is.
Here are five insights to help you build more resilience through mindfulness:
- Stop and take a step back. Breathe, become aware of your feelings and try not to judge anything that comes up. Allow the feelings to go through you as if they were clouds in the sky (even if the clouds are dark, heavy and scary). Know that beyond the clouds, there is always the vastness of a clear, blue sky.
- Know that this too shall pass. Use mindfulness to shift your attention from negative rumination to more positive thoughts about the good things in your life. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”, Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn* reminds us. You can’t stop negative life events from happening, but you can learn how to adapt your response to these events, keeping in mind that, just like a wave, nothing in life lasts forever. So choose to let go. Let the wave swell and break and recede.
- Find better ways to communicate. We all get constantly hijacked by our minds, and this happens especially during difficult, conflicting situations, when we feel lonely, hurt and misunderstood. What if there was a better way to express our needs and feelings, and, in the process, help our partner to do the same? I personally like the non-violent communication process taught by Marshall Rosenberg**, a method of relating that focuses on mindful listening and on clearly expressing how we feel without blaming or criticizing.
- Understand that there is meaning in adversity. It’s easy to feel lost and confused in the face of great difficulty. We blame ourselves and others for missed opportunities, failed expectations and all sorts of perceived ‘mistakes’. With mindfulness, we can begin to see that every pain is in fact an opportunity for growth, an offering of expansion into new territories of the heart and the mind, a falling away of the fears that have kept us stuck in a dormant ‘status-quo’. Every sorrow is an opportunity to become more present to your life, to see, understand and accept what is, to allow yourself to fall down, get back up, shake it off and move on with your precious life!
- Practice self-compassion. Practice this short loving-kindness meditation whenever you feel overwhelmed by distressing thoughts and situations.
May I be kind to myself.
May I find peace and healing.
I am doing the best that I can in this moment.
May I accept and find ease with things just as they are.
Stay tuned for the launch of my new program: “The Art of Evolved Relationships” in March 2017.
*Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.**Marshall Rosenberg is an American psychologist and founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, a communication process that helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully.