Invariably, our regrets flow from times when we have not been mindful. There are many situations in life where this can occur. Our regrets typically have to do with things we should not have said, actions we should not have taken, or things that we omitted to say or do that we should have said or done.
Situation: The job interview
When going for a job interview, for example, you may have been so nervous and panicky, that you did not present yourself in the best light. You may have been “not with it” or unfocused. Without a clear mind, you would not have understood the interviewer’s questions or responded in an appropriate manner. You probably had not worked out “where they were coming from” or what they intended by their questions.
Nor would have you picked up any emotions behind the interviewer’s questions such as concern, anxiety or even fear. You could have come away thinking, “I just blew it” and realising that you left important things unsaid and did not “put your best foot forward” in terms of demonstrating your expertise. In failing to remain calm, you missed the opportunity to convince the interviewer that you could handle stress well. Mindful practice, in contrast, enables you to display calmness and clarify of mind.
Situation: Interaction with your partner
You may have had a recent interaction with your partner where you came away thinking, “I did not handle that well”. Your partner may have complained that you were not listening or that your mind was elsewhere. You may have become defensive, interrupted their sentences and talked over them – leading to frustration and anger on their part. In short, you may have failed to engage in active listening. Mindful practice helps you to be fully present to the other person and listen for understanding, rather than to mount a self-defence.
Situation: Coversation with a friend or colleague
Your friend could have engaged you in conversation only to find that you were just interested in talking about yourself and your accomplishments – in other words not being present to them. Alternatively, a colleague or staff member may have started talking about an issue or concern they had, and you quickly diverted or terminated the conversation because of your unease with the emotional content of their information. You were not able to listen empathetically to what they had to say, because you were so preoccupied with your own emotions. Mindful practice enables us to be empathetic listeners and to show people and their emotions the respect they deserve.
Situation: Conflict with a colleague, partner or friend
You may have “lost your cool” or over-reacted in a conflict situation when you encountered a negative trigger – something that was said or done (your pet hate) that set you off. You may not have developed self-management through mindful practice or learned to employ the SBNRR approach discussed previously. This approach enables you to stop, breathe, notice, reflect and respond – in that sequence.
As we grow in mindfulness, we are better able manage the stressors in different situations – to listen effectively and empathetically and to self-manage by keeping our emotions and reactions under control. If we achieve this, we will have fewer regrets about our words, actions or omissions.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: courtesy of quinntheislander on Pixabay