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The Power of a Pause

Oh, this quote…the quiet, elegance that encapsulates with absolute clarity the belief that we possess the power to choose how we greet whatever the world throws at us.  It is the cornerstone of my coaching work.  It’s just that good!

In our typical everyday lives, things happen and we react.  A colleague doesn’t show up to a meeting, and you think she’s being flighty or disrespectful.  You react by sending an email telling her as much. Your spouse comes home after work and doesn’t want to go out.  In your disappointment, you say unkind things and make accusations, leaving both of you feeling crappy.  Your child wakes up for the third time in as many hours.  You feel exhausted and frustrated, and stomp into his bedroom and angrily give him a piece of your mind.

Things happens, to which we mere mortals assign meaning. Our thoughts trigger feelings, often very strong emotions.  And based on how we feel, we do what we do…we react.  And especially when we are angry, hurt, frustrated, emotionally exhausted (pick any strong negative emotion), our reactions don’t typically help the situation get better nor help us feel better.  And yet, this remains our typical pattern.

Here’s the thing:  It doesn’t have to be that way!  

We have the choice to RESPOND rather than REACT.   What’s the difference?  Reactions are typically un-contemplated, knee-jerk things we do immediately following something happening (the stimulus).  Responses, on the other hand, are what follow a “pause”, during which we consider, and then choose, what we will do.  In Frankl’s “space” lies our ultimate power as human beings…the ability to manage our own minds, emotions, and, ultimately to respond in ways that can make our lives more peaceful, pleasant, loving and fulfilling.

So remember, when stuff happens (and it will!), PAUSE.  BREATHE. Give yourself some SPACE to consider what you want the outcome of your response to be–and then take action. Each of us has the sole power to choose what we will say and do.  And in owning that power, taking full responsibility for our actions, we gain ultimate freedom.  How awesome is that?!!

If you want to learn more about this concept, I highly recommend reading Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

And if you find yourself in the spin-cycle of negative reactions, I’d love to help.  Contact me and let’s get to work!

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