This month I’ve been trying to help you regain your focus, and I hope my tips for setting your priorities and picking things to quit have been helpful to you. This week I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite tools, and it builds a bit on the Quit List I got you started with last time. It’s a very simple tool. But as you’ve heard me say before, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. . What’s this tool? The Powerful Pause. This is one of my favorites because of its wide-ranging applications. Take a pause when you’re engaged in a conversation that’s hitting emotional hot buttons. Take a pause when you don’t know the answer and need some time to think. Take a pause when you’re being asked to do something, and you really want to say no, but aren’t quite sure how. Take a pause to extract yourself from a tricky situation or conversation. . Or take a pause when you simply need a positive and proactive break, if you just need to catch your breath. If you live with kids or any other humans at all, practicing the art of articulating your need for a pause is just plain WISE, and it’s also excellent role modeling. Teach people how to treat you with your actions, and show them how they can do it also. . Two strategies for taking this on:
When engaged in a conversation or moment you need to exit, tell the other person (make these words your own!): “I’m getting a little heated, so I’m going to need to hold our conversation here for now so I can settle down and think more clearly. I will circle back.” Important: Be sure to circle back so people continue to honor your limits and don’t simply feel blown off!
With kids, your beloved, or in any relationship you care about, try priming the pump! Let them know ahead about this new strategy you are taking on, so they are ready for it when it comes the first few times.
Pausing is a key tool to take some control back. Taking control of what you can doesn’t have to be sweeping and grand, or even overly difficult. It’s about finding ways to set your priorities, eliminating what isn’t currently in alignment with those priorities, and managing your reactivity to stay the course. This is where the Powerful Pause comes in. It’s a reinforcement of your needs, and helps you to be clear about them to yourself and others. Remember, clear is kind.