It can be tempting to match the go-go-go pace of of the world around us. When it comes to self-care and relationship success, though, slowing down is key.
More and more we hear about the benefits of slowing down, giving ourselves the time we need to nourish our hearts and minds, and to reduce stress by stepping away from the daily grind. I’m one of those often shouting from the rooftop: Slow down! Take time! Connect more to the very moment that’s alive, instead of getting lost in anything and everything else. We’re hearing about it more because the more mindful we are, the more we awaken to its utility.
In relationships, we may want more from our partners than they can give in any given moment. In dating, we may expect things to move faster so we can feel safe and secure knowing we’ve found “our person” and we can relax in knowing that.
For so many of us, slowing down can be hard.
It may feel contraindicated to the pursuit of goals, to the desire to be partnered and build a family, or to having whatever else it is that we desire. We want all of this now! We don’t want to have to wait more for it. We’ve waited long enough—and we think that if we only rush and use more haste in dating and in our relationships the thing we want will come sooner. We don’t realize this is a faulty premise, and one that often stems from not a desire to have the things we want, but from a fear that we won’t.
It can be hard to slow down because we want to feel good, and we’re frantically pursuing the things we think will provide us with that. We desire experiences, materials, and relationships because we think we’ll feel better in the having of it, and so slowing down can seem like an undesirable wrench in the pursuit of our own well-being. Alongside of this interplay with desire, we’re living in a society and culture that demands a lot from us. We have deadlines, meetings, school pick-ups, classes, activities, events, never-ending to-do lists, and a tireless drive to achieve all that we are capable of.
So, yeah, slowing down can be hard.
At first glance and initial consideration, it seems like slowing down won’t provide us with what we need, desire, and are made for. As with most things in life, closer, more-critical consideration helps to delve into the depths of what is actually best for us, and what will help us be and feel our most well.
Slowing down is actually a tremendously critical opportunity we give ourselves to connect, align, and create the relationships we most want as the heart of lives we love.
Why slowing down matters in your relationships:
- It gives space to work through conflict: Relational ruptures require time to work through. No feeling is final and each moment is fleeting, AND we need to honor that we, as humans, require processing time, integration, and space to allow energy to move through. It’s often not immediate and slowing down helps.
- It allows for processing and integrating: We need to slow down long enough to reflect, ask ourselves questions about what we’re going through, and to align ourselves with our true intentions. This is an awareness practice requiring the stillness of time that slowing down offers.
- It provides a chance to be conscious in communication: Use your words wisely. Come from a place of responsiveness instead of raw reactivity. Often, slowing down is required to make the choice to consciously communicate.
- It offers the chance to become emotionally regulated: If we’re stressed or in the heat of an intense, unpleasant feeling, slowing down gives us enough room to regulate ourselves. This helps us to make the right decisions and express ourselves from our authentic cores.
- It deepens connection: Only through slowing down are we able to truly see and hear each other.
- It can reduce overwhelm: We gain perspective and find ourselves centered, independent of everything else happening outside of us.
- It provides the chance to experience the joy of where you are with each other: Instead of getting lost in where you think you should be or what you fear will come next, it’s a way to chill out and say, “Hey, this is pretty cool.”
What can help:
- Meditation: Implicit in a meditation practice is also the practice of slowing down. This helps prioritize ourselves, our inner worlds, and how we can live aligned with the things that matter most to us.
- Mindfulness practice: Cultivating an awareness practice helps us slow down because it gives us the chance to notice when and why we’re rushing. It helps us discern between when that may be more necessary, and when it isn’t at all.
- Deliberate prioritization of time: If you know you’d benefit from a slower morning, prioritize time then to meditate or give yourself whatever space will be required for you to take the start of the day slowly. This type of intentional time-setting will help you value what it means to slow down, and the fact that you’re willing to ensure it.
- Listening to one another’s needs: If there’s conflict in the relationship having to do with feeling seen, heard, or understood, it could mean more nurturance is indicated and that slowing down with each other will help. Attune to one another, listen in on what the other is expressing. Slow down enough for this to happen.
- Identifying shared values: Do you both value quality time? Do you value full presence when eating? Do you value spirituality? Do you value achievement? Whatever it is, get clear on it so you can weave in slowing down as a way to connect to the values you share.
- Self-reflection: Ask yourself, “Am I rushing? Why? What’s the belief here about slowing down?” E.g. If I slow down, I’ll fail. If I slow down, this will end. If I slow down, I won’t have what I want. Shift to: Slowing down gives me such a rich experience of the moment. If I slow down, I get to understand myself better. If I slow down, I enhance the connection because I’m present for it in the moment it’s happening. If I slow down, I better know what I desire and what I need to create it.
Slowing down is when life’s richest experiences are felt. It’s when we’re able to enjoy the love we feel in our relationships, to show our interest and attention, and to give ourselves the time and space to connect to our very alive inner worlds. Slowing down is a gift. One we all have the capacity to give to ourselves and each other.