Humans are wired for connection. And because of that need for connection, healthy relationships—whether they’re romantic relationships, familial relationships, friendships, or relationships with people at work—are one of the most important foundational elements of a happy and fulfilling life.
But relationships can be challenging. You need to be able to navigate conflict. You need to be able to empathize and put yourself in another person’s shoes. You need to listen to the other person—and also communicate your own ideas in a way that makes you feel heard. You need to practice vulnerability and let people see the real you—not the person you think you should be, but the person you actually are.
And all those elements that make a healthy, fulfilling relationship? They don’t come naturally for most of us—which is why so many people struggle in their relationships.
But luckily, there’s a tool that can make navigating all your relationships easier and more fulfilling—and that’s practicing mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness meditation—even for just 15 minutes a day—can be a revolutionary step towards improving your relationships.
But how, exactly, does mindfulness impact relationships for the better?
One of the key elements to any successful relationship is empathy. Empathy allows you to really understand where another person is coming from, and it’s a critical skill if you want to truly connect in any relationship—whether it’s with your partner, spouse, child, parent, family member, friend, or coworker.
Some people are naturally empathetic, but for the most part, it’s a learned skill. And one way to increase empathy? Mindfulness.
Research show that regular mindfulness practice changes the insula, the area of the brain responsible for empathy—and those neural changes can make it easier for practitioners to empathize with others. In one study, researchers found after just five minutes of mindfulness practice, participants with no prior meditation experience were able to perform better on tests that assessed empathetic understanding.
One of the biggest barriers to intimacy—a key factor in successful relationships—is insecurities.
The way we feel about ourselves can have lasting effects on our behavior; we have a core belief we’re unworthy of love, so we put up a wall and refuse to open up to people. We believe we’re in some way flawed, so we seek out relationships with people that reinforce that belief. We have a deep fear of abandonment, so we push other people away before they can leave us.
Often times, we’re not even aware of our own insecurities, how they drive our behavior, or how they negatively impact our relationships. But mindfulness can provide the self awareness necessary to not only become aware of our insecurities, but to let them go—and have better relationships as a result.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to the present moment. When you’re conscious of your behaviors, it can give you greater insight into why you act in certain ways—and can give you the awareness necessary to correct negative behaviors. So, for example, let’s say you get defensive any time your partner wants to talk about an issue in your relationship. When you practice mindfulness, you can observe yourself getting defensive, question your motives, get to the root cause of where the defensiveness is coming from, and change the behavior—which will improve the quality of your relationship.
If you want to have successful relationships, you need to be able to regulate your emotions—and the key to better emotional regulation? Mindfulness.
Emotional regulation is defined as Studies show that mindfulness changes the areas of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. Mindfulness strengthens the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, which makes it easier to keep your emotions in check and to stop yourself from doing or saying something in the heat of the moment that might damage a relationship.
Relationships are give and take. If you’re constantly taking without giving anything back, your relationships aren’t going to be successful. And one of the most important things you can give to your partner? Listening to them.
People need to feel heard in relationships. But if you can’t be present with another person, truly listening is impossible.
Mindfulness gives you the ability to anchor yourself in the present moment. You can be more present in conversation, and instead of thinking of what you’re going to say or letting your mind wander, you can actually listen. This simple act—the act of listening—can completely change the way you relate to people and the way they relate to you, strengthening all your relationships as a result.
Mindfulness has a laundry list of benefits. But the way your relationships will change as a result of your practice? That’s truly one of the most rewarding.
If you are interested in becoming less anxious, develop greater empathy, have more control over your emotions and let go of your insecurities you can book a free 45 minute consultation call with me personally by clicking here.