Apr 29, 2014 #1
The below message is an essay I've already turned into my Communications course. I'm just asking for suggestions pertaining to my general writing style and for readers to point out any errors that I may have missed.
Do you remember that show Herman's Head that was on in the 90's? Every time the protagonist of the sitcom, Herman, would have a thought, you could see the different aspects of his psyche having a dialogue in response to any outside stimuli. Sometimes, quite often, the personalities would conflict and fight for dominance until one of them would win and Herman would act accordingly. Herman was never aware of such powerful dynamics that were occurring inside of his mind and was often clueless at some of the impulsive behaviors he would act out. This show perfectly embodies what I see is the essence of mindlessness.
How often do we find ourselves in similar situations? When we're just going on about our lives and day-to-day activities and interpersonal interactions and then suddenly-BAM. Something unexpected has snuck into the crevices of our minds, snowballed through our thoughts and emerged as some powerful dominating force. Then before we know it, we're saying things we don't understand or mean, feeling physically or mentally drained, and until we have some time to culture some hindsight, generally clueless or completely off-base about why we reacted (or failed to) the way we did.
In my life, I commonly have this difficulty. Though I've taken a series of courses and researched several resources on the subject of mindfulness, I find it a true obstacle in terms of interpersonal effectiveness. Especially in my relationship with my boyfriend. Maybe it's because we've had such a long run at having such completely ridiculous and ineffective conflicts. Maybe it's because our personalities are just destined to butt heads. Or, maybe, I just care so deeply about him that his opinions hit me in a really personal and powerful way.
Whatever the reasons for the problem are, the reasons behind finding a solution are much more important to me. I truly care about this person and wish to improve the dynamics of our relationship and ability to relate to each other very much. With this course and my goals in mind, I've begun to change my internal dialogue when speaking to or listening to him. Like Herman, I think I too have several different personality aspects in a constant struggle for control and I've been working hard at quieting the less appropriate ones.
It is very difficult to remember much of anything along the lines of rationality when we get caught up in a very emotionally-charged argument. In an effort to improve my ability to practice mindfulness and awareness, and to develop mindful habits, I started first during non-conversational activities (such as cleaning house, just before going to sleep, and while feeding my baby son). DuBrin (2010) explains that an important element of making any true skill development possible is frequent practice (p9).
The more I practiced mindfulness during everyday activities, the more I began to notice it was becoming a habit. Before long, I became aware that I was becoming more aware during less heated, "chit-chat" conversations with my boyfriend, such as discussing the antics and concerns of our son, or discussing television shows. Once I would become aware that I had been subconsciously practicing mindfulness, I would recall DuBrin (2010) explaining that it is important to minimize distractions in order to be an effective listener (p84), and would have to quickly redirect my attention back towards the conversation.
This is where I recognized the vast difference between personal mindfulness and interpersonal mindfulness. When practicing alone, I have only my own self to observe. But when engaging in interpersonal communication, I have to try to find a balance between maintaining an appropriate level of conscientious mindfulness while communicating with myself and implementing effective listening skills during mindful communication with others. In other words, it's not easy being in two places (inside my head and out) at the same time. Does difficult mean impossible? No. But it can mean improbable if lacking genuine effort and ethical intent.
In summary, I will continue to practice the two behaviors mentioned above in order to improve my mindfulness skills. It is my belief that with enough awareness, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence, that I can improve my interpersonal relationships immensely. I intend to combine the knowledge of the lessons I've learned throughout my life with this Interpersonal Effectiveness course to develop a competent Interpersonal Improvement Plan.