The ideal time to be mindful is when you’re encountering a frustration or a problem. But this can typically be the hardest time to be mindful.
Maybe a co-worker accidentally deleted your report or your spouse said something insensitive that really hurt you.
Whatever the situation, you’re feeling a lot of emotions at once.
It’s normal to want to blow up and let everything out.
While this solution might seem helpful at first, the fact is that this approach is often harmful to your relationships.
Instead, it can be helpful to deal with your frustrations and problems by staying mindful.
Start with awareness
Often, we want our emotions to be heard, so start by acknowledging how you feel.
Try saying something simple to yourself like, “I’m angry that (person) did (action).” Take a few deep breaths.
Acknowledge other emotions you feel bubbling to the surface like overwhelm, anger, sadness, jealousy, etc.
Analyze your emotions
Where are these emotions coming from? Are they linked to something that happened recently?
It’s important to pause and ask yourself if your emotions are in proportion to what happened. Sometimes, we react to a minor incident because we’re not acknowledging a problem in another area.
For example, someone spills coffee on your desk and you’re tempted to yell at them. But you pause and realize you’re angry because you received bad news in an email earlier. You just attributed those emotions to the coffee spill.
Think it through
When your frustration or problem has to do with someone else, think about it carefully before you decide to confront them.
Could it be that you’ve been projecting your emotions onto someone else? Can you explain how they feel? Are you willing to step in their shoes for just a moment to look at this situation from their perspective?
Look for alternatives
Sometimes, a frustration or problem comes along that can be handled easily. Ask yourself if you can change the situation.
For example, getting angry about an invoice mistake that was made six months ago isn’t helpful.
Ask yourself what your choices are and which one is the best response.
Reach out for feedback
If you have a coach or mentor you can contact, you should do that. Ask for guidance on how to tackle this problem.
Often a coach or mentor can provide a fresh perspective that can help you look at the situation in a new way.
Alternatively, you could reach out to a group or community that you’re part of. Your group can give you the benefit of several different perspectives and it can be helpful to know that you’re not the only one dealing with these problems.
Don’t berate yourself if you don’t handle every frustration or problem mindfully. Instead, acknowledge that you could have dealt with the situation differently and move on.
Mindful living isn’t about getting it right every time or being perfect. It’s about living in this moment.
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James Lebish says