“Mindfulness” is one of the latest mental health terms that has been co-opted and misappropriated by our society of trends. Mindfulness allegedly now has something to do with coloring books and a mythical state of letting everything go and being really super calm all the time. While attempting to guide clients into calming breathing exercises, I’ve had a few take themselves out of the exercise to tell me that they already try to practice “mindfulness.” While I’m glad that my clients are exploring better mental health on their own, it’s important that we get our concepts straight because true mindfulness is a valuable skill to practice.
Mindfulness is not about calming yourself: it’s about being aware of and acknowledging your actual feelings and thoughts about a situation.
So much of society lets us try to ignore, forget, and disconnect from negative feelings. Rather than going away, those feelings can fester. Sometimes we try to play “tug-of-war” with our negative thoughts and feelings and force them to go away. This is impossible in the big picture. Instead of trying to fight or flee in times of negative experiences, mindfulness is recognizing and naming those negative feelings and ideas. It is being aware of our experiences and allowing them to exist with us. It is being present in our lives, even in the uncomfortable parts. As the linked post above mentions, the key is often “‘dropping the rope’ and letting the monster be present while you focus on going about your day.”
We don't have to like where we are, but the first step is being honest about what we're experiencing. And if this is something you need help with, we can schedule some time to talk.
Stephanie Bloodworth, LMFT-A
Cross posted at Flourish Mental Health