I have noticed in my work with couples and individuals that people often remain in a state of suffering because of their own conceptualizations. We hold on to things like “it is your fault” or “I am right, and you are wrong” type conceptualizations. This way of being keeps us in a place of feeling like someone has offended us. Instead of being open to their experiences and perceptions that might help us understand the behavior. If we practice noticing these conceptualizations in the moment, we can begin to work with them in a way that helps us cultivate patience to give us space to work toward understanding.
The Practice of Noticing
This practice encourages you to approach every situation objectively, with kindness, from a perspective that all people are inherently good and can be understood in context. Of course, this does not work every time as our emotions can often get the better of us. We become stuck in these conceptualizations of right and wrong. When this happens, simply reset your intention to catch it sooner next time. Eventually, this will become your way of being.
The compassion this practice encourages you to give others only works if you first learn and practice self-compassion. When you fail at this practice, and you will, it is not about blame or being wrong or having to find a reason. Simply remind yourself that you are human, and all humans are flawed so it is not possible to be perfect. This way of thinking, with consistency over time, helps us to allow other humans around us to be flawed without feeling offended against or even a need to “correct” others.
One way I have found to work with these conceptualizations is to try to replace them in your thinking as often as possible. When you notice yourself thinking that something is “right or wrong”, try replacing these words with “is it useful”. Right and Wrong are conceptualizations that vary wildly depending on a person’s perspective but useful is more situation-dependent. Again, this can be practiced with our own self-compassion. Instead of thinking you are wrong in a way you think, feel, or behave, ask yourself “is it useful”? I invite you to try this for yourself. See how this practice can lead you to become more patient and open with others.
About Bruce Craig:
Bruce is a Resident in Counseling providing counseling services at our Fredericksburg location. Bruce completed a rigorous internship working with individuals, couples, families, and groups. He finds Mindfulness to be useful in helping clients be in the present moment. To learn more about Bruce, visit here.