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The benefits of the pause

December 15, 2013

There is a reason I decided to fashion this blog around the idea of stop, smile and breathe.

One of the most powerful evolutions of my personality has revolved around changing the habit of reaction.  I lived for so long in a world of fear and defense.  Around me were perceived threats and potential trouble and I, in the only way I knew how, had to do something to protect myself.  I lived in a world of sarcasm and instant response.  There was never any time taken to fully soak in whatever being presented to me.  All requests, comments, conversations and even compliments were suspect before they were completed and, instead of really listening, I was, instead, building up the wall that was already stories high in order to make sure I was not going to be hurt by whatever it was you were offering.

I had a listening problem.  I knew that whatever you were saying was undoubtedly going to take something away from me or cause me to have to do something I didn’t want to do.  My life was in a perpetual state of protection and, as a result, my friends (who were often either in the same boat or at some point just didn’t bother with the conversation any longer) were weary and disappointed.

I have learned that listening is key.  If I am going to be a part of anyone’s life I must understand what makes them tick.  In order to do so I have to understand what they are saying.  Some days there is an appropriate response (always based on simple support or personal experience.) But if I am busy preparing what I need to say to them, either in rebuttal, debate, or under the guise of “help,” I am not truly listening.  It is in situations for service that the pause could be considered the most important, although, as I will detail further down, the pause is vital in all facets of my communication.

It was in the first year of a job that I have now been with for nearly 17 where I was afforded my epiphany about the way I reacted to people.  I was working one morning when a co-worker, who I did not know all that well at this point, asked if I could handle some constructive criticism.  My defense mechanism did not want to allow this.  I knew that it meant I was going to be told something that was not “right” about me or my behavior and I was still somewhat raw in the areas of my personal growth.  I was willing enough, however, to remember that even if this were to be something I did not want to hear, that did not mean that I shouldn’t hear it.

We sat in a conference room in the building where we worked and this woman looked into my eyes and simply stated:  “I just wanted to let you know that you react to everything.”  My head started to roar, but fortunately my ego screamed louder.  I knew in that moment that I could NOT react to what she had told me because, very simply, if I did she would be exactly right.

Instead I thanked her and embarked on a personal project to change the habit of reaction in my life.  I started with just making myself hyper aware of everything I said.  This awareness became an irritant and an annoyance (personally), but it lead me down a path to change and growth that I could not have imagined possible in earlier years.

I was learning to STOP when I was spoken to and soak in whatever it was.  Whatever had scared me so much in the past was now revealing itself as something that was not going to hurt me unless I allowed it to do so.  This pause in my behavior and response began to set up an entirely different facet of my personality and, as a result, my life and ability to work amongst and communicate with others started to flourish, little by little.

The pause is effective.  We in program have all heard about the restraint of tongue and pen.  It is an absolute blessing to stop and allow time and better judgement to become more effective tools for better communication and decisions.  I am responsible for my behavior today and it has become so much easier to be the man I want to be (and be perceived as) if I am able to avoid jumping to conclusions or reacting out of fear.  A life filled with regret and amends is nowhere near as healthy and fulfilling as the one that I have willingly been taught and built out of habit since the moment I was struck with the spiritual lightning.

The pause is my miracle.  I use it in every day activity.  I use it to meditate, to pray, to listen, to evaluate, to be more credible, to be a better friend and sponsor, it has turned me into a better person and allowed me to grown into someone I learned to love.  Within pause is gratitude and hope, faith and promise.  Within pause is a far  more clear sight of my path ahead and a better ability to work with my God to not need to control what that path is from beginning to end.  I am happy in the pause.  I am stronger in the pause.  I am smarter in the pause.  But I will always remember I am not perfect with the pause.  All I know is that it is always better if I…

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

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One Comment
  1. Kevin permalink

    Cuz—you so speak the language of therapy. Listening is the number one THANG for us therapistos; active listening. Love your blog, baby!!!

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