This semester I have decided to take some electives outside of my comfort zone, one of them is "Mindful Activism." I considered it to be out of my comfort zone because I have never really been much of an activist, or much of a mindful person to be honest; at least not purposely mindful. Most of the things I do that might be considered "Mindful Practices" I have to do in order to cope with my anxiety. Things such as taking a moment to breathe and reorganize myself; I have always done to de-clutter my mind, and be able to function normally.
This semester, thanks to Professor Kathryn Norsworthy, a wonderful person, and leader in my mindfulness journey; I learned what mindfulness really is, and all the things that it truly stands for. Through her, I realized that a lot of the things I do to cope are mindfulness practices, and this made me more interested and curious about other ways in which mindfulness could help me in my everyday life. I started to actively apply it to one of my biggest weaknesses, my relationships with people.
The important relationships in my life have always been relatively simple. They have just existed, and I have never had to work particularly hard to keep them. You could call them "Low Maintenance" relationships. I have always considered myself to be a very emotional, caring person, but I am super particular about the attention and time that I give to others. I like helping people, and I make an effort to always be kind, but sometimes I refrain from actively helping others because my mind and heart refuse to carry the baggage that comes with the responsibility of knowing what others are going through. They know I have enough problems of my own, and they know how cripplingly empathetic I can be, so they automatically discard others problems as soon as I am faced with them. As an effect, I am not able to build many meaningful, strong, and long-lasting relationships.
What is interesting is that I had always wondered why I didn't have many friends, or why my relationships with people fall apart so quickly. Meaning that I used to do this unconsciously, and only realized I did it through my class and understanding mindfulness. Realizing and accepting the problem is the first and most important step in potentially fixing it.
Mindfulness has helped me to understand that I don't have to hold on to other people's problems. Most often than not, It means the world to simply have somebody listen, and I mean REALLY listen. In class, we learned to "listen mindfully," listen without getting distracted by other things like how we are going to respond or do after this conversation is over. We learned to just listen and truly understand what the other person is saying before responding. This has made my responses smarter and more helpful because I truly know what is wrong and where the person is coming from.
Mindfulness has helped me realize that I can hold on to baggage by moments and that I do not have to carry it around. I used to drop a lot of people because I believed that being friends with them would mean I would have to carry their problems around with me, but this is untrue. Being there in the moment for them is more than enough, and incredibly effective in helping. People feel better by knowing that you are actively and mindfully listening and are there for them at the moment.