The Intersection of Mindfulness and Choice
Author: ruth       May 24th, 2023

The theme of the week seems to be the intersection of mindfulness and choice, especially when one is in conflict or having a difficult conversation with another person.

Let’s start at the beginning and explore both concepts. Mindfulness is awareness in the present moment without judgement. The beautiful thing about mindfulness is its simplicity … try it. Try just being present in your moment and – this detail is important — let all judgement fade away. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the clothes on your body, notice your emotions, connect with your breath, notice body pain and/or tension, let your “to do” list go by the wayside … just for a moment.

Hopefully you were able to notice things about yourself or your surroundings you may not have noticed before. Mindfulness is a wonderful tool to use as often as you like at any time of.

As we know, choice is the ability to make a decision when faced with more than one possibility. But consciously bringing choice into our lives in both big and small ways requires some level of mindfulness. This is especially relevant when we find ourselves in emotional conversations when we say or do things we may later regret. By being mindful in these moments, we can choose how we respond and can have more control over our actions.

Here’s an example of how this plays out:
A couple is arguing. They are falling into their old patterns. Person A is withdrawing Person B is throwing zingers and they’re really going nowhere. By bringing mindfulness into this scenario, they are each able to take a moment, identify what they are feeling and then consciously make choices to be different.

Person A may notice they are pulling away, they may feel the tightness in their chest and the words in their mind saying “pull away”. Once they identify this, they are able to take a breath, relax their body and move towards their partner with intention. Person B may notice intense energy surging through their body and recognize it as the kind of energy that leads to saying mean things or behaviors they want to avoid. Then they know to take a breath, try to relax, and be more open to accepting the overture from their partner.

This all sounds so simple and it is, but so often we forget to be mindful and end up reacting harshly or shutting down rather than responding in more loving or thoughtful ways.

When I’ve brought up mindfulness to clients, their eyes sometimes glaze over because it’s one of those words that is so often tossed around. When I’ve linked mindfulness to the concept of choice, this seems to get people’s attention. We all like the idea of having choice rather than being beholden to our emotions or dysfunctional behaviors.

So be mindful … and make choices. See how it feels!

Copyright 2020 Ruth Krumbhaar. Marriage and Family Therapist MFC53637.