Don’t you wish you had your own personal ‘pause’ button? What would you change if you did? It’s so easy to be reactive. You say and do things you don’t mean and later wish to yourself, “If only I had waited to react, I would have chosen differently.”
We can exercise our pause button. Yep, that’s right, just like we exercise other parts of our bodies; we can exercise and build our ability to pause. “Between the stimulus and the response, there is a space. In that space lie our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl I was drawn to read this quote several times because each time I read it, I felt more grounded. I was intrigued and excited about the idea of being able to choose how I respond rather than react. Imagine...wagging the tail of the dog instead of the tail wagging me? I LIKE IT!
How can you exercise your pause button? Wait before you respond. Take your emotional temperature. Are you a bit heated? Wait. Are your hands clenched together? Wait. Is your body rigid? Wait. Is anger boiling to the surface? Wait. Even if you only pause for a few moments, chances are it will bring you back to center and soften your reaction. Take it another step? Ask yourself, “How would I normally react?” then choose something different. Another question to ask yourself. “Is what I am about to say going to positively contribute to the outcome, or will it create further harm?"
What’s the fallout from not tempering our reactions? If we’re talking about our children, we teach them that being defensive is the way to handle feedback, of any kind. It also fosters low self-esteem, especially if there is name calling. If we’re talking about our partner, how can real communication occur, of any kind if you’re constantly reacting to information? What if the information is real, viable and true? How long do you think it will take before your partner just gives up sharing what’s on their mind? Pause, take it in. Wait. Is any of it true? Too uptight to respond in the moment? Wait. You, and everyone else will be thankful you did.
Challenge: Try out your pause button- how did it feel? Can you feel yourself more in tune with your physical presence? Rigid? Tight? Clenched? Can you breathe yourself down? Can you feel the softer, calmer, less rigid more peaceful you?
Clue: If you are defensive, you have stopped listening. It’s impossible to listen and make your case at the same time.