The Paradox of Mindfulness: From Obstacle to Challenge

The Paradox of Mindfulness: From Obstacle to Challenge

  • September 30, 2013

During times of loss or crisis, it’s not uncommon to interpret others’ attempts to help as insensitive, minimizing, dismissive, or even condescending. Too often, the very group you feel closest to are those you feel most estranged from. Ironically, when support and connection is most needed, it has never felt so difficult to come by.

It’s hard to predict when or where these threatening encounters will occur. As these interactions multiply over time, the ability to “hold it together” only worsens. Avoidance and retreat become the coping mechanism. But this very reaction only increases feelings of victimization and vulnerability, and furthers feelings of loneliness and isolation.

By taking off the lens of judgment, mindfulness enables you to feel less injured by others because you don’t take things so personally. You approach the situation with beginner’s mind: no assumptions. Rather than assuming the worse, you’re able to consider the possibility that perhaps others just don’t know what to say. You take others off the hook, and in doing so, you’re released as well. It begins to feel safe enough to come out of hiding and venture into the open range.

From this perspective, each stressful encounter can be viewed as a challenge: one to learn and grow from. Paradoxically, crisis is opportunity.


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