I saw a Facebook post this week that got me reacting BIG time. I was so annoyed and found my fingers on the keyboard ready to type out some nasty shit.
And then I paused.
And I took a breath.
And I asked myself, “What good will my comment serve?”
Then I stepped away from the keyboard.
Had I posted my comment, I would have been revved up all day awaiting a response and ready to fire back. Is that really the best use of my time and energy? Hell no! Besides, has anyone ever had a truly productive exchange on social media?
Ah, the power of the pause.
How often do you regret an answer? A reaction? An outburst? Whether when invited to dinner, asked to help out in some way, or your buttons just get pushed, learning to pause before responding can save you a lot of grief and your relationships a lot of pain.
Knee-jerk reactions are a big cause of emotional and mental clutter. You don’t want to be that friend who accepts invitations and then cancels at the last minute (full disclosure: this used to be me), or someone who wants to be the hero so says yes to every request only to later get resentful and pissed off.
No matter the situation, a few seconds can be a lifesaver. And often a few seconds is all that’s needed.
To practice the pause, simply take a breath when an invitation or request comes your way or when you get triggered.
“Hey, you want to go to dinner tomorrow?”
Not excited at the idea? Shove away the shoulds and honor that feeling.
“I’m not available, but thanks for the invite. Maybe another time.”
You might feel compelled to agree to something you’re unsure of out of a fear of hurting the other person’s feelings but giving yourself space and time to consider the invitation will allow you to give an honest answer. Doing so honors your commitment to yourself and keeps the relationship channels between you and the other person clean.
SIDE NOTE: Although you might be available time-wise, you may not be available energy-wise. It’s ok to say no even when your calendar shows the space to say yes.
The Powerful Pause is a handy tool in lots of different situations. For instance, if:
- You tend to worry a lot. Pause and see if your worrying is productive or unproductive. If your worrying alerts you to a step you can take to better a situation, it’s productive. If there’s nothing you can do, it’s unproductive. The pause can help you act or surrender.
- You’re about to order that next drink or reach for another cookie. Pause to check if there are uncomfortable emotions bubbling up that you’re trying to silence.
- You’re beating yourself up for procrastinating. Pause and see if you might be protecting yourself in a roundabout way. Does anything feel scary about taking action?
Instead of defaulting to old habits, turn off the autopilot and take a minute to be with yourself. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes, right?
This week, begin by simply noticing where you tend to act or respond quickly. Then note those times when you wish you would have paused. You’ll up your chances of behaving differently the next time.
Your life and your BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) deserve as much time and energy as you can muster. Let’s be sure you’re not wasting these precious commodities in unnecessary ways.