The first key of mindful communication, according to Chapman (2012), is having a mindful presence. This means having an open mind, awake body and a tender heart. When you have a mindful presence, you give up expectations, stories about yourself and others, and acting on emotions.
You are fully in the present moment; your communication isn’t focused on the “me” and what the “me” needs, but the we.
Mindful listening is the second key to mindful communication. Mindful listening is about encouraging the other person. This means looking through the masks and pretense and seeing the value in the person and the strengths he or she possesses. It’s looking past the human frailties and flaws that we all have to see the authentic person and the truth in what that person is attempting to say.
How many people have been in relationships that they knew weren’t right for them, but stayed anyway? My guess is more people have done that than haven’t. Such relationships may be boring, more work than they are rewarding, emotionally painful, lacking intimacy or sharing and feel forced. Instead of adding to the joy and happiness in your life, a bad relationship may find you feeling sad, anxious and thinking hopeless thoughts.
These relationships may even be neglectful or abusive. A big part of mindless relationships is you have to give up part, or most, of who you are to stay in the relationship. That’s a very high price to pay.
Most people know that not being true to themselves and what they want and need is a really bad idea. To stay in such a relationship they often have to numb themselves, be un-mindful of their needs and wants and un-mindful of the pain they feel. It’s like going into a cocoon; hiding and believing that by doing so they are safe in some way from what they fear.
Maybe those in bad relationships fear no one will ever love them so they settle for what isn’t safe and intimate to avoid living without a partner. Maybe they are afraid of being alone so they settle for being with “friends” who aren’t supportive or caring.
Emotionally sensitive people sometimes have difficulty trusting themselves. There’s often good reason for this; when someone has intense emotions, she can’t be sure how she will react in different situations with various people.
Most emotionally sensitive people have experiences in which they’ve reacted emotionally in ways they wish they hadn’t. Maybe they feel embarrassed or ashamed of the way they’ve behaved in the past and fear repeating that experience. Often they can’t be sure of how they’ll react if they become jealous or angry or envious of someone else or if they feel intimidated or judged.
Even when there isn’t an emotional threat of any kind, just not knowing how you might react around other people can be scary. Sometimes being skillful and then sometimes being unskillful can be confusing.
Judging and fear of being judged often keeps people in a trap – an emotional jail. Instead of living your life the way you would love to, you live safely, doing what is acceptable, so you aren’t labelled as crazy, stupid, worthless, a failure, lazy or some other hateful word. You may try to fit into molds that aren’t right for you or that aren’t even possible for human beings.
Humans simply aren’t perfect.
Most people have multiple ways of judging themselves, and often that involves comparing themselves to others. Maybe you have a role-model in mind, a person you think has it all together. Maybe you choose the best of several other people to compare yourself to–the role model for your professional life is different than the person you look up to in your personal life, and the person you admire for her mothering skills may not be the same person you want to look like in a swimsuit.
Most people don’t consider themselves good enough. We’re not good enough at work, as a parent, or as a spouse. Our bodies don’t look good enough at a pool party and we aren’t pretty enough or successful enough at the high school reunion. We don’t have enough friends and we don’t have the right car.
Emotionally sensitive people are more likely to judge themselves harshly. We live life as if it were a competition.
When you’re feeling upset, it’s difficult to problem-solve or think of what actions might help. Keeping a list of what works for you could be an important step for coping successfully. It’s also true that building strong basics in your life will help you cope more effectively when you are faced with pain.
13: For this week, notice something YOU did right each day. Sometimes people focus so much on what needs to change that they forget how much is perfect just as it is. This is related to noticing what went right, only this time it’s about your actions, what you did right. Remember small right actions add up, so count the small steps.
Living a values-based life is not an easy goal. You get up in the morning, you’ve got tasks to do. Sometimes you just do tasks without considering how you are allocating your time. Sometimes you just keep going all day until you are done, then fall into bed exhausted. Often it seems there isn’t enough time to think about living your life with meaning or putting your energy into what you believe in.
You may believe in family, contributing to those less fortunate, friendships or making positive difference in your community. Many times though, people don’t put their values into action. They don’t live their beliefs.
Paying Attention to Who You Are
Your values are an important part of your identity. What are your top five values? How much of your life do you spend consistent with those values?
Understanding emotions, being able to observe them in ourselves, and knowing the information they give us is an important part of living effectively. For example, fear tells us to take action or freeze to protect ourselves. When fear is based on true facts versus imagined or misinterpreted information, that message to self-protect can be lifesaving. That message is perfectly clear — you are in danger.
Sometimes, though, the message our emotions are giving us is more difficult to understand. That’s true of shame.
Webster defines shame as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, and ridiculous done by oneself or another. It is a kind of injury to one’s pride or self-respect.
Do you ever feel like you simply can’t listen to another word about a difficult experience or loss? You may be experiencing compassion fatigue.
Therapists, nurses, doctors, nannies, childcare workers, nursing home caregivers and other people who focus on helping on a regular basis often experience compassion fatigue. Listening to heartbreak and caring about the troubles of others can be stressful and emotionally tiring.
The emotionally sensitive, who are keenly aware of the emotions of others, are at risk for compassion fatigue even if they aren’t in a care-taking situation. Driving past an animal shelter or seeing a homeless person on the street can bring about overwhelming compassion and over time result in compassion fatigue.
Caring deeply day after day can be emotionally exhausting.
Kelly’s weekdays are filled with pain. She’s a caring friend; one who takes on the pain of the people in her life. Her college student niece whose heart is broken, the young wife next door who feels empty and hollow despite having the life she once dreamed of and the middle-aged friend whose life hasn’t met his expectations.
All their emotions, and those of others, stay with her in one way or another until she replenishes herself and lets them go. Being an emotionally sensitive person and an introvert, time to recoup through solitary activities like reading is crucial for her to live a contented life.
It’s the first chapter in her owner’s manual for herself.