When my kids were young, I remember something they learned to do before they would cross a street: Stop, look, and listen!
Due to impulsivity and hyperactivity that come with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, many of us have a hard time putting on the brakes! Add to the mix feeling overwhelmed, running behind, and the tendency to be emotionally reactive. It all contributes to an anxious way of being in the world. What if we could find peace by adding a pause?
What happens when we pause?
When we stop long enough to breathe, it sends fresh oxygen to our brain and slows the flood of stress chemicals heading there. Hitting the pause button helps us become more aware of the emotions that are making us feel out of control. The pause allows us to think about what might have triggered the strong emotion and consider what actions we might take instead of exploding. It’s a key weapon for managing our emotions.
What does the pause look like?
The pause can take many forms. It will be shaped by the situation and our needs in the moment. It might look like:
- Counting to ten in a volatile situation or walking into another room.
- Waiting before you commit to something. Instead of an instant “yes,” you say, “I’d like to think about that,” or “I will get back to you.”
- Being very clear on what you value most, creating and living by the priorities in your life.
- Taking time to be thankful at this time of year.
The pause provides a choice
There is a symbol in music, called a rest, which means to be silent. A rest symbol allows you to absorb what you heard previously, positioning you to move forward. Another words, the pause is active, not passive!
I am reminded of a quote by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust after three years in concentration camps. “Between stimulus and response, there is a space,” Frankl said. “In that space is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
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