How to Practice Pause

Trying to stop in the heat of the moment can be like trying to extinguish a fire—definitely a difficult task. But it can be done. It just takes (albeit ample amounts of) practice.

Need a little motivation? Practicing pause helps us prevent future regret. It mitigates risks. It also helps reduce the negative impact emotions such as anger and sadness can have on our physical health. Practicing pause helps us think more clearly and enables us to make better choices. In short, practicing pause creates space and time for the smoke to clear, the intensity to die down and for us to calm down.

You can absolutely feel angry. You may very well be overcome with frustration. No matter how you feel, it is real and valid. It’s just absolutely vital to not operate from how you feel. Otherwise, our feelings are in control, not us. And practicing pause is exactly what creates the space in order for us to do the latter, not the prior.

Now that the “why” is clear, here’s how to do it:

Get to know what anger and frustration feels like. This will help you spot it as soon as it starts. It’s really very simple. A small fire is much easier to control and put out than a larger one. The same is true for the fires that can rage inside all of us. The next time you feel the heat begin to rise, take note. This is an opportunity to better discover your personal warning signs. How does it feel? What are your very first thoughts? What is your first reaction to this emotion? Don’t deny it. Get to know it, so that you can recognize it as soon as possible—and keep it under your control.

Create space between yourself and the situation. If you can, move to a different location or room. Separate yourself physically from everyone else involved. If none of these are possible, simply close your eyes. Doing this will help you better block everything out, even if for only a moment.

Use the resource of time to your advantage. Take yourself off the stopwatch. Very rarely do we have to act immediately on anything. Remember this and act accordingly. Take all the time you need in order to carefully craft a response rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

Retain your power of choice. You are in control. Refuse to give this up. No matter how strongly you may feel, you get to choose how you proceed. Accept that while you cannot control others, their thoughts or feelings, you absolutely have the power and ability to control your own.

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