What is social mindfulness; is it good or bad for your mental health?
Social mindfulness refers to having an enhanced awareness of yourself and others. It means being present, attentive, and respectful when engaging with people.
Mindfulness as a concept is fast catching up popularity. Being in the present moment and making the most of it is being mindful whether it's eating, working or interacting. Social mindfulness is balancing your own needs along with others in a social situation so as to act more sensitively or respectfully towards them. Not regarding other people's needs can come across as being socially unmindful and can affect relationships. Socially mindful people often take a pause before replying to consider if their words are sensitive enough. They also understand that other people can make a mistake at times and it's not okay to lash out at them or reprimand them for it. When you are socially unmindful or inconsiderate, you give importance to your emotions, needs and reactions at the cost of others' discomfort. (Also read: 6 telltale signs that your friend doesn't respect you)
"Social mindfulness refers to having an enhanced awareness of yourself and others in social situations. It means being present, attentive, and respectful when engaging with people. It requires a 'social mind' that is aware of the needs and desires that other people could have at the time," says Dr Chandni Tugnait is M.D. (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director - Gateway of Healing.
The two steps to social mindfulness
"It takes two steps for someone to engage in the prosocial behaviour that we connect with social mindfulness: first, they must recognize what others might want, and then they must take appropriate action. People are likely to act socially mindfully if they are aware of the opportunity to do so. However, if they continuously display a lack of social consciousness, they may very well be socially unfriendly, which is the opposite of social mindfulness. All in all, social awareness or social antagonism is determined by the numerous tiny choices we make in life," adds Dr Tugnait.
Critical aspects of social mindfulness
Dr Tugnait explains few important aspects of social mindfulness:
- Being aware of your thoughts, feelings and biases when interacting with others. Noticing judgments as they arise.
- Listening attentively with empathy and making an effort to understand others' perspectives truly.
- Being aware of nonverbal cues - both your own and others. Noticing body language and facial expressions.
- Focusing on the interaction and not being distracted when conversing.
- Being aware of the dynamics and moods of groups. Reading social situations thoughtfully.
- Pausing before reacting; allowing yourself time to consider the most thoughtful response.
- Respecting differences and being considerate of others. Not imposing your views.
Benefits of social mindfulness
Social interactions are essential to our personal and professional life in today's fast-paced, globally connected world. Being socially mindful entails cultivating good relationships, practicing empathy, and being conscious of how our words and deeds affect other people.
Here are several advantages of practicing social awareness explained by Dr Tugnait and how it can result in a more contented and peaceful life that promotes mental health:
- It strengthens relationships through deeper connections.
- It reduces social anxiety and self-consciousness.
- It increases self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
- It helps manage conflicts and disagreements through awareness.
- It promotes perspective-taking, empathy, and compassion for others.
Can social mindfulness be harmful in some cases?
"Taken to an extreme, over-analysis during social interactions could backfire and cause overthinking. The aim is mindful presence, not hypervigilance. Used judiciously, social mindfulness is very positive for mental health - helping manage anxiety, improving relationships, and enhancing overall well-being. It enables more authentic and fulfilling social interactions," concludes Dr Tugnait.