This book will help you:
- Utilize mindfulness practice on an interpersonal level
- Understand and cope when your love relationship doesn’t look exactly how you expected
Author Sharon Salzberg guides readers in using mindfulness philosophy and techniques in relationships with others. Mindfulness helps individuals acknowledge and experience their emotions without being run over by them. By having a nonjudgmental attitude of curiosity and openness, individuals are able to approach their emotions and reactions with self-compassion and serenity.
There are many misconceptions and incorrect expectations about love and relationships. It is a very normal need to be longing for someone to love and be loved. However, at times people may put too much stock in their love relationships, expecting to be “completed,” happy, or completely fulfilled. Or, to a lesser degree, you may rely on your loved one to emotionally or otherwise support you in a way that is unhealthy, such as by expecting them to “fix” your flaws, or by wanting them to soothe you every time you are anxious. A relationship of secure attachment is one of balance. There is no one person who will complete you or always be there for you in the way you want them to be, or even always be the person you want them to be. It is lovely and warming when you have a partner who is a “home base” for you, and at the same time they must not be your only support. That creates an unhealthy dynamic of codependency.
No one is responsible for your happiness and you
can’t wait for love to fulfill you
Salzberg discusses how every individual must not rely solely on love to make them feel “complete” or happy. No one is responsible for your happiness and you can’t wait for love to fulfill you. You are not responsible for fixing anyone or making them happy. Instead, she encourages readers to develop self-love first. Real love of the self includes accepting the full range of your emotions and experiences. It is normal to want to forget or avoid difficult feelings or memories; however, this indicates a lack of integration and acceptance for yourself and your life. This avoidance blocks you from being in touch with your true feelings and strengths. By avoiding difficulties or challenges you miss the opportunity to fully learn and grow from the experiences.
Lovingkindness meditation practice is suggested as a way to cultivate love and goodwill for yourself and others. Lovingkindness meditation typically consists of repeating lovingkindness phrases while keeping in mind a certain individual in your life, or yourself. Phrases may be some variation of “May you be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful, and live with ease.”
Salzberg discusses how love and our loved ones are constantly changing. We often expect love to be constant, but there are so many ups and downs and rights and lefts daily (just like with our emotions, when we pay attention to them). Mindfulness helps individuals greet the changes with grace and compassion on an interpersonal level. Similar to how we are encouraged to experience our emotions with attention and non-judgment, we can approach our partner’s changes the same way. After getting to know someone for a while, we often assume we really know them and don’t expect them to surprise us. However, Salzberg encourages readers to cultivate curiosity and awe and understand that each person is capable of surprising us daily – if we are interested enough and pay attention. This nonjudgmental curiosity is also helpful when some of the unexpected changes are unwelcome and difficult to accept. “Feelings of apathy as they relate to our relationships often stem from insufficiently paying attention to those around us. Remember: everyone we interact with has the capacity to surprise us in an infinite number of ways. Within each interaction you have, try to notice something surprising, or try a new mode of interacting. Resolve to bring more mindfulness to your connections.”
I am personally in the midst of some big personal changes within the context of my family and I am excited to notice more and be surprised by my loved ones.
Eta Feuerman-Yaeger, LCSW, is a child and family play therapist with a private practice in Queens. Check out her website at feuermanyaegertherapy.wordpress.com.