On a call this week, a client and I were talking about how to practice being less reactionary, whether when invited to dinner, when asked to help out in some way, or when your buttons get pushed.
If you tend to quickly say “yes” to requests or invitations, but then later find you regret agreeing, or if someone pisses you off and you automatically lash out or look for a way to numb out, a pause is just what you need.
To practice the pause, take a deep breath whenever you get triggered or when an invitation/request comes your way. Even if you end up reacting in the way you’re trying to change, remembering to breathe before answering is a great start to your reconditioning.
When it comes to a request or invitation, pausing allows you to know more clearly if it’s something you want to agree to, or if not, what may be prompting you to say yes to something you’d rather say no to.
Instead of agreeing now only to cancel later or suffer through it, think about the language you could use to graciously decline. Here are some examples:
- “I’m not available for dinner tonight. Maybe another time.”
- “My plate is pretty full right now so I wouldn’t be able to give the event/project/fundraiser the time it deserves. Sorry I can’t be of more help.”
Checking in with yourself, along with having the language in your toolbox before responding can save you a lot of grief later.
Practice the pause with just yourself, too. Maybe you’re a worrier by nature and something is currently making you uneasy. Stop and check in about the purpose of the worrying. What good is it doing? Is it helping the situation in any way? It might be, but you can’t know until you check in.
Perhaps you like to numb out with food, alcohol, work, drugs, or sex when uncomfortable feelings surface. Pausing and allowing space for the emotions to exist builds self-trust and lets your younger self know she needn’t be so loud to get your attention.
Instead of defaulting to old habits, coming off autopilot by taking a moment can result in less resentment and a lot more peace and clarity.
Where would a pause help you? What are you agreeing to that you’d rather not be? Let’s keep chatting in the comments below.
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.