Occasionally, we just need to pause.
When we find ourselves with a churning or anxious mind, we need to pause. When we feel overwhelmed or unsure, we need to pause. When our nervous systems are caught in a state of fight or flight, constantly waiting for the next fire that needs extinguishing, we just need to pause. When the days keep turning and are starting to blend together, or when what’s coming seems more than we can calculate the outcome of, we need to pause. Especially when we are reacting more often than responding, and when we can’t immediately remember the last time we felt gratitude, we need to pause.
Viktor E. Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
When we don’t pause, often the unpredictability of life can have us spinning our mental wheels for ongoing periods of time without us realising it. The puzzle pieces start to swim around our heads, we wake at 3am when random thoughts surface and our brains want to chat, or we lack tolerance for daily interactions or challenges that would otherwise not have ruffled or tired us. These are all signs that we need to make use of that most valuable asset available to all of us — our pause.
When we pause, a number of things happen.
Firstly, our egos take a breath and stop their defence for a moment. As our natural mental and emotional protectors, our egos are constantly primed to assess threats and challenges and respond to our best advantage. Our best advantage according to them (our egos) which, as we all know, is not always the most productive, thought through or adult response. When we pause and breathe, we send physiological signals to our bodies to calm a little. The longer we pause and breathe, the more of a physiological reset our bodies and brains take. Adrenaline and cortisol diminish; our brains start to think more rationally and, when we pause for long enough, physiological processes that clear toxins from our brains and bodies, absorb nutrients and oxygen and allow healing kick in. These are processes that are side-lined…