Using the Power of Mindfulness to Transform Your Relationships
Mindfulness is a powerful way to improve all your relationships. Listen to Dr. Ron Frederick, my guest on Last First Date Radio.
Emotional agility and mindfulness are key to healthy relationships. My podcast guest, Dr. Ronald J. Frederick, is a clinical psychologist whose career has focused on the power of your emotions and mindfulness to transform relationships. He’s the author of “Loving Like You Mean It: Use the Power of Emotional Mindfulness to Transform Your Relationships” and the award-winning “Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want.” He’s a senior faculty member of the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Institute, and Co-founder of the Center for Courageous Living in Beverly Hills, CA. Ron lectures and facilitates workshops for national, state, and international organizations.
Check out the show notes and listen to EP 380: Using the Power of Mindfulness to Transform Your Relationships.
What led you to work in mindfulness and emotional health?
From the time I was a little boy, I wanted to be a performer in musical theater. I set out to do that, and in my twenties, I saw a therapist to help me emotionally. I began to look at my life and how I was shaped by my early experiences. Actualizing and self-expression and showing up to life whole-heartedly felt so deeply personally important to me.
After working in theater for a while, I decided to go back to school and study psychology. It felt like a deeper calling.
How do you define emotional mindfulness?
It’s all about being aware of and connected to and present with our emotional experience. There’s a quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness is…cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment to whatever arises in the present moment, either inside or outside of us.”
How might that look in a relationship?
When you’re triggered, what does that mean? Something happens in a relationship where a partner says or does something (or doesn’t say or do something), and we get activated and have an emotional reaction. Because of our early experiences with our caregivers, we may feel hurt, but it doesn’t feel okay to express that. So we lash out. We’re critical. We develop ways to deal with triggers over time. We’re wired to have certain responses that are not constructive.
There’s a defensive dance and we’re not dealing with underlying feelings. We stretch the space between stimulus and response. It’s important to speak up, be vulnerable, and have the courage to open up in a different way.
How can we break free from old patterns to support healthier dynamics?
‘Stop, drop, and stay.’ Recognize, focus, and turn inward instead of outward at the other person. Begin to drive our ‘ship’ and work with it. Get in touch with what’s going on inside of us emotionally.
The work of being mindful is a process. It’s work that unfolds over time. We change the way our brain works over time and we grow. When we’re triggered in relationships, primal forces come to bear. Connection and secure loving relationships are key to our lives. In childhood, if we don’t connect with our caregivers, we will perish. Learning to manage our emotions is key.
How do we change patterns in relationships?
We develop different attachment styles in childhood. We adapt to our caregivers and learn what feelings are okay and which are not; what keeps them around and what pushes them away. Some people are anxious in relationship (am I good enough). Others are avoidant. They learn if they show vulnerability, it will be bad. They deactivate their emotional experience. We then grow up to be people who disconnect, pull away, and don’t express our feelings.
Many of us choose partners whose nervous system is different from ours. We choose someone like our caretakers. It fits on a neurological level, but it doesn’t work.
Ask yourself, “What am I doing that I may not be paying attention to.” You may notice that the person is not available, but you don’t speak up because of fear. That’s part of your old wiring. We need to become attuned to the feelings we have and trust it and be okay with it. We need to be okay speaking up. That often flies under the wire in the beginning of a relationship and you find yourself disconnected down the road.
What are the four steps of emotional mindfulness?
- Recognize and name when triggered.
- Stop drop and stay. Get a better understanding of where the feelings come from.
- Pause and reflect. What is the feeling telling me? What do I really need?
- Mindfully relate. How can we regulate our feelings and lean in to affect change? See where you act out, pull away.
How can we go on our last first date?
Go slow. We need the time to hear ourselves, and the space to be able to turn inward and pay attention to the cues we’re getting from our feelings. It helps us get in touch with our truth and move forward in a positive way.
Learn more about Dr. Ron Frederick here.
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