How to Share Your Mindfulness Journey with Your Loved Ones (Even When They Don’t “Get It”)
Molly has struggled with stress for much of her adult life. Each morning, she wakes up and immediately, her mind starts racing.
The pressure of her busy lifestyle feels like a tightening vice around her and she wishes she could soften it, at least a little bit. She learns about mindfulness and feels passionate about trying to incorporate it into her life. However, when Molly tells her partner about it, he dismisses her idea and she feels disheartened and disconnected.
Jonathan has been practising mindfulness, going to yoga and meditating for almost a year. He has felt a profound change in the way he lives his life; he feels calmer and more resilient, his sleep has improved and he wants to share his experiences with others. His parents discourage him from talking openly about his journey and he starts to feel ashamed of how he’s embraced mindful living, even though it’s helped him become a happier and more fulfilled version of himself.
Eleanor discovered the concept of mindfulness when she was browsing a blog online. She’s really excited by the idea of it, but when she tells her husband about the possibility of attending a couples’ meditation workshop together, he shows no interest and she feels unsupported and frustrated.
Hassan loves playing rugby and hanging out with his friends. He also has a keen interest in psychology and learns about mindfulness from a podcast. When he tells his friends about it, they make fun of him and he feels completely isolated and alone. As his interests in mindfulness and meditation grow, he spends less and less time with his friends and he wishes they could be more open-minded and accepting.
These particular stories are fictitious, but there are elements of truth in each one. Some parts of these stories are mine, but most of them are based on emails I’ve received from my community. These people have usually been learning about mindfulness from my podcast and they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about it, or they feel unsupported by their loved ones on their journey with mindfulness.
If you’ve ever wondered why your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t support you, or you feel unheard, alone and invalidated, or you wish to encourage your friends, partner or family to be more supportive, then I wrote this article for you!
I’m sharing 7 simple tips you can use to help your loved ones understand more about mindfulness and how they can support you on your journey (even if they don’t necessarily “get it!”).
Tip 1: Communicate
I’ll be honest- I’m not the best communicator. I’ve always been someone who can write down my thoughts and feelings, but articulating them to someone else has proved difficult on many occasions (particularly when emotions are running high). My reaction used to be to disconnect and wish that my loved one would just understand me, or read my mind, somehow.
I’ve had to learn to communicate my thoughts, feelings and intentions. Here are a few useful phrases I rely on when I want to say something that’s important to me:
-I have something I would like to talk about and it’s important to me. I’d love if you could listen and just be as supportive as you can.
-It would mean a lot to me if I could talk to you about this. I’d really like to hear what you think! Note: be sure you want their opinion if you ask for it, and if they share, try to understand it (even if you don’t agree).
-I’m feeling hurt/sad/lonely. You don’t need to do anything, I just wanted to let you know.
-It would really help me if you could… (insert helpful action).
Tip 2: Acknowledge the positives
Becoming more mindful can have so many positive impacts! When you’re explaining what mindfulness is and why it’s important to you, try to share some of the positives to help your loved one understand more about it and how you benefit from it.
Some of the positives I’ve experienced include:
-improved sleep (which means I’m less grumpy than I used to be!)
-less stress (creating more space for joy, creativity, fulfilment and gratitude)
-stronger relationships because I take the time to really listen and appreciate quality time with my loved ones
-less emotional reactivity (mindful breathing does wonders for me during times of intense emotions)
-more confidence and self-love
Tip 3: Make it simple
Many people don’t know what mindfulness is. When I explain it, I tend to use the description “Mindfulness is a practice which helps me be more present, rather than getting caught up thinking about the future, or past.” I’d then share an example, such as “When I’m walking, rather than thinking about all the things I have to do tomorrow, I’m paying attention to the feelings in my body, or I’m noticing the world around me.”
Of course, there are more aspects of mindfulness, such as non-judgement, but keep it simple at the start and share more if they are interested!
Tip 4: Find your own support network
It’s ok if your loved ones don’t know how to support you on your journey with mindfulness. This amazing online world we can access has the potential to offer extra support in incredibly meaningful ways!
You can join Facebook groups, enrol in a course, connect with people on social media, start a blog… There are so many ways you can find (or create!) the support you need.
If you haven’t already, maybe you would like to join my community! Each Monday, I send out a newsletter filled with stories from my personal life, mindfulness action tips, interesting resources (and more!), to help provide guidance and support for anyone who would like it. You can easily join this community by entering your name and email address below!
Tip 5: Share
Just because someone isn’t keen on practising mindfulness with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be disconnected from that part of your life. You can still share new things you’ve learned, practices you’ve tried, or benefits you’ve experienced! There are people in my life who don’t practise mindfulness, but they still enjoy hearing about how I used breathing practices to stay calm before my first public speaking gig.
You never know- people can warm up to new ideas and start to embrace things you’ve recommended if you go about it in a gentle, non-forceful way.
Tip 6: Respect people’s differences
Not everything is for everyone. I don’t particularly enjoy going fishing, eating mushrooms, doing work or study at night, watching really violent movies, or painting my nails.
Some people love going fishing! Other people eat mushrooms on a regular basis. Some of my friends are absolute night owls and prefer studying late at night. My boyfriend enjoys watching all types of movies and violence doesn’t bother him. Some people have a great time painting their nails.
We’re all different! Perhaps, the people in your life just aren’t interested in being more mindful (or learning anything about it!).
While I encourage myself and others to be open-minded, sometimes, we just don’t resonate with things and that’s alright.
Tip 7: Be confident
Embracing mindfulness is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. It’s changed the way I cope, the way I live, the way I think and the way I interact with the world around me. Maybe, it will be the same for you! So, be confident in this choice you’re making for yourself. Remember that you’re doing your best and even if other people can’t always see that, you know and believe it.