The Power of the Pause

Date posted: November 5, 2015

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.pausebutton

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.

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  1. Hi Kerri – good timing for this article! I find myself numbing out a lot lately – I need to deal with those feelings. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, Ann! The good news is, “dealing” with those feelings simply means feeling them. Not quite as simple to do, but do your best to give them the space they deserve. <3

  2. I am seeing a lot of this within myself. Others pushing my buttons, my normal reaction would be to fly off the handle and be pissed off, but lately, I am actually watching myself in action and seeing that I don’t need to react like that. It’s kind of funny in a way, it’s as if, I am watching myself in slow motion and making snap decisions internally to prevent my own explosion and liking it. Thus, I feel more calm and better.
    Yes, pause, think and proceed makes a world of difference.

    • Yes, KateE!! Bingo! It is like watching yourself in slow motion. Let those snap decisions stay internal, get them out of the way, then respond from a more centered place. Sounds like you’ve got this down!

  3. How timely that this should arrive today – not only am I worrying about something I can not change and have no control over but I always tend to agree too quickly to help/go somewhere/do something that I really am not so interested in…will try really hard to practise the pause, deintely need a better coping mechanism

    • Oh Sigrid, it sounds like a pause could be your best friend! Do give it a go, and then investigate a bit behind your tendency to agree to help/go/do when you’re not really interested. What’s the payout you get for agreeing to something you’d rather not do? Starting with a pause will expedite that investigation. Thanks for sharing!

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