Mindful

1. You do have time

Balancing all of life’s demands can be stressful and time-consuming. It can often feel like there isn’t enough time to really connect with your family—it can even feel like another chore on your to-do list. See if you can slow down enough to find small moments in each day to make a connection with each other—from saying “good morning” to your children in a loving way or doing something thoughtful, there are so many small moments ripe for connection.

2. It’s not all about you

It’s hard not to take things personally when someone speaks to you in a rude or unkind way, but often these behaviors are coming from a place of discomfort within the other person. When you can take their action as a message that the other person is having a difficult time rather than as a personal attack, you can begin to relate to him/her differently. Doing this can open you both up, releasing defenses and leading toward communicating and connecting in a different way.

3. Really listen

We often confuse hearing for listening. Hearing is just perceiving the sounds around you. You can hear someone while typing a text on the phone. Listening is the intentional choice to fully pay attention to the other person—from the tone and texture of their voice to their emotional state and body language. Next time you ask your loved ones how their day was, make sure to really listen. Take in what they’re saying without projecting what you feel or expect onto their words. Remember how you feel when someone is actually listening. Offer that to others.

4. Keep in touch with loved ones

Families need to be in touch with each other, literally. Not everyone is “touchy-feely,” but touch can be soothing and communicate both a feeling and a sense of connection that words alone cannot convey. From a gentle hand on a shoulder to lingering in a hug a bit longer, see if you can reach out and touch your loved ones a little more.

5. Have an attitude of curiosity

Close family members often see each other as having a fixed identity and assume they know how the other is going to act in any given moment. By doing this you become closed to seeing each other as you really are in moment—it prevents you from having the ability to see the change that’s happening as those around you grow. We’re constantly changing and evolving, especially in small, subtle ways, so rather than assuming you know the other person completely, see if instead, it’s possible to be open and have an attitude of curiosity. See what’s new.

This article also appeared in the December 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.
Elisha Goldstein

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and conducts a private practice in West Los Angeles. He is creator of the 6-month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion (Atria Books, 2015), The Now Effect (Atria Books, 2012), Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler (Atria Books, 2013), and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger, 2010).

Stefanie Goldstein

Stefanie Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the director and co-founder of the Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles. She specializes in mindfulness while working with adolescents, adults, couples, and families. She is also the co-creator of the Good Morning America featured popular teen program CALM: Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness, an 8-week program that teaches mindfulness and social-emotional learning to teens.

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