Relationship Troubles? Mindfulness Can Help

Conventional relationship advice tells us that communication is key to a successful relationship. Most people†know this already on some level, but†it’s obviously easier said than done.

People may deeply value†their relationships, but that doesn’t always translate to†a completely open flow of communication between themselves†and their†partners. This may be especially true when issues are brought up that could potentially cause conflict.

Researchers from the University of Auckland†conducted a study to find out†whether there were any ways to prevent or minimize the emotional and behavioral reactions that typically take place after experiencing conflict in romantic relationships, which led them to examine the effects of mindfulness on relationship conflict. Previous research has shown strong links between relationship conflict and destructive behavior in those with lower levels of self-esteem because they’re more prone to look for and interpret signs of rejection.

Fears of rejection might typically cause people to wait†for “the right time” to bring up an issue with their partners, twist the truth so it doesn’t sound so harsh, or ignore it and hope that it just goes away. Mindfulness, however, could help mitigate fears of rejection that often plague people’s minds as they contemplate how they’ll address anything controversial†with their partner. If mindfulness can help people get over their fears of rejection, then couples may be able to work through their issues in much healthier ways instead of falling victim to destructive behaviors such as†dismissiveness, disengagement and hostility.

In the study, 72 college students were asked to complete a questionnaire so the researchers could measure their dispositional mindfulness, self-esteem levels, relationship commitment and self-control. The participants were then asked to keep track of how they interacted with their partners on a daily basis†as they reported on experiences of conflict, fears or rejection, and destructive behaviors for a period of 10 days.

The more relationship conflict participants reported, the more likely they were to experience fears of rejection. And the more likely they were to experience fears of rejection, the more likely they were also to engage in†destructive behaviors toward their partners.

In participants who exhibited higher levels of dispositional mindfulness, however, the links between daily conflict, fears of rejection and destructive behaviors didn’t hold as much strength.†These links seemed to be mitigated†even further among†participants with higher dispositional mindfulness who scored low on the questionnaire for self-esteem and typically showed heightened fears of rejection.

The study findings suggest that relationship conflict doesn’t have to lead to a negative†outcome, and those with higher levels of dispositional mindfulness are among the ones who tend to benefit. For those who don’t have a naturally high disposition for mindfulness, use of mindfulness-based interventions can help.

Mindfulness is the practice of†simply being aware. A person who practices mindfulness is†simply noticing what’s going on in their inner world and outer world, ó including all their†thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and events that are taking place in their current environment. It also involves accepting all of it†without judging it or trying to control it.

Like all skills, mindfulness can be learned with practice. Check out these 10 everyday situations that are perfect for practicing mindfulness.

Related:
Mindfulness Could Be the Key to Making Healthier Choices
High-Intensity Exercise Is More Enjoyable Than Moderate-Intensity Exercise
Sleep Deprivation Might Make It Harder for Your Brain to Form New Memories

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

92 comments

Marija M
Marija M4 months ago

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Elaine W
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