Mindfulness allows us to become aware of our thoughts and emotions so we can observe them from a curious and totally open-minded state. This can be really helpful when we’re experiencing negative thoughts and emotions that feed off of each other and make things worse.
It’s a lot easier to practice mindfulness when we’re in a calm, emotionally stable state, but it’s most helpful when we can practice it during the most difficult times. When we do, we can put a stop to the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions.
Here are 10 common negative experiences that can be helped or even resolved by practicing mindfulness during or after they occur.
1. When you think you need more.
For the ego, what you have now is never enough. It always wants you to think you should achieve more, tricking you into believing that as soon as you get this or that, you’ll finally be happy. Mindfulness shows us that this is not true.
2. When you judge others.
You judge others based on very incomplete information. After all, you don’t know what another person is feeling, how they think, or what they’ve been through over the course of their lives.
3. When you compare yourself to others.
You also judge others so that you can decide how you stack up against them. Depending on your judgment of others and how you see yourself, you may create a very negative comparison that doesn’t necessarily reflect the truth.
4. When you’re striving for perfection.
Similar to how the ego always wants you to strive for more, it also wants you to perfect every last detail. But the road to perfection is never ending, because it can never be achieved.
5. When you’re worrying about what other people think of you.
You may change your behavior and actions just to satisfy something you think other people want from you. But do you know for sure that they want you to be something other than yourself? The answer to this is simply no, you can’t be sure.
6. When feelings of shame or guilt are triggered in you.
Your deepest beliefs that were planted in your subconscious during childhood may cause you to feel unworthy if provoked by external events or other people. Question them. Are they true?
7. When you feel jealous of others.
If you feel like you’re competing against others, or that it’s unfair that they have something that you don’t, you put yourself in a mental and emotional state of scarcity. Learn to observe this and ask yourself whether the world and life itself is actually all about not having enough to go around for everyone.
8. When you feel unable to forgive.
Being hurt by somebody (or by yourself) is painful, but learning to question whether that hurt can be resolved by answering it with punishment or revenge is critical. Mindfulness will reveal to you that it can’t.
9. When you want to be certain of something that is happening or hasn’t happened yet.
The ego will do everything it can to make you overanalyze everything so that you can be certain of something. What if, though, you simply let go of your need to be certain and just worked on learning from genuine curiosity?
10. When fear motivates you to seek protection.
Your ego has one job: to help you survive. As humans, we thrive on social status, so we become afraid of anything that threatens our self-image. Become mindful of how you feel compelled to protect your self-image when something you perceive as a threat comes into your life.
You may want to start a mindfulness meditation practice to get better at developing this skill when difficult times arise. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel to become mindful even when negative thoughts and emotions are trying to pull you in.