In Week 3 of our Mindful Relationships Challenge, our practice this week will be a heart-opening practice for almost any relationship.
In the first two weeks, we started noticing the feelings and narratives that come up for us in relationships … and we started practicing keeping our heart open in the middle of the stress of whatever comes up for us.
This week, we’re going to practice a salve for that kind of heart-closing stress and narrative.
The Pain of Heart-Closing Narratives
For many of us, what comes up in relationship are narratives like these:
- They don’t appreciate me
- They are unfair to me (not reciprocating, not doing their share)
- They always criticize me
- They complain so much (or they’re so negative)
- They’re doing things that are inconsiderate, lazy, bad
- They aren’t interested in me (or sexually interested)
- They aren’t open to my ideas, what I want
Or some variation of complaint about the other person. They’re doing something that hurts us.
Each of these narrative causes pain â€” frustration, anger, hurt. It closes us. It makes us run to our patterns â€” being shut down, lashing out, stewing in frustration, etc.
In this pain, we can keep our hearts open. But we can also shift our mindset with praise & gratitude practice.
Praise & Gratitude Practice
This is a daily practice that you can do with the person you’re in a relationship with, or without them. I recommend with them, if they’re open to it. (If they’re not, don’t engage in a narrative about how they aren’t open to things or don’t want to do anything to help your relationship, etc.)
With the other person:
- Agree to have one small session a day where you praise each other and share what you’re grateful for about the other person.
- For just a few minutes, set aside some time to face each other. Ideally, look into the other person’s eyes, and have an open heart.
- Finish the sentence, “Something I really love about you is …” And let the other person finish the sentence about you.
- Thank them for practicing with you.
Variations on the prompt:
- Something you do that makes me feel loved is …
- Something about you that I’m really grateful for is …
- Something I find so beautiful about you is …
- I love it when you …
- Something you do that makes me so happy: …
- Something I totally trust in you is …
Without the other person:
- Answer one of the prompts above on your own. You can do this in your head, or in a journal. But you should feel it genuinely in your heart.
- You can even do it 2-3 times a day if possible, more is better! But at least once a day.
Either way, you are starting to shift from your old narrative in the section above, to a new open-hearted way of seeing them. Because while there might be some truth to the negative narrative, it’s not the whole story. There is more to the other person than this closed narrative. And maybe we can start to open to the truth of who they are without our narrative, and be curious about who they might be in this moment.
Please practice this every day this week. And I highly recommend you practice for the rest of this month (and beyond!).