Tool: Pause Before You Speak

Posted Posted in Tools & Techniques

Here’s an amazingly simple thing you can do in your daily life that can work serious wonders. Just take a slight pause before you speak. A LOT can go down in that pause. Do I really want to say that? Will it lead to an argument that I don’t want? Is there a better way to put it? Am I reacting? If you pause and think about what you’re going to say, then you’re acting rather than reacting – major difference. I mentioned this pause in a post about The Perfectionist, since people with that pattern can tend to be overly critical (read: me!). This is a great tool for all of us, though. And it’s just so simple. Like pretty much all of what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, all it takes is practice. When you actually do it, though, and end up saying something calmly instead of with a sharp tone, you’ll feel pretty good. Actually, you might feel elated. That’s some serious validation that this stuff works. You just diffused an argument – nice freaking job. One less argument in this mad world is a very, very good thing.

This reminds me of a client who is totally kicking ass. Her boyfriend recently told her that he worries when she’s silent. When this happens, he’ll ask her if anything is wrong. This is when she’s pausing. The reason that she’s pausing is that she used to express all the time in the same situation, arguing and fighting. They were done as a couple unless she got control of this. She’s done an amazing job. She’s not just suppressing her feelings, either. She’s totally aware of them, welcoming and releasing them. She’s giving the situation some thought and choosing her words. She’s not in a rush. And she’s definitely not letting the emotion do the talking anymore, because we all know where that gets us.

This pause is a tool that I had down a while back, and it seems I’ve had a relapse. So this is something that I’m working on as well. Remember that it’s not about being perfect, because there is no perfect. It’s about having good intentions and being as consistent as you can. And when you fall, you just get back up. No big deal. In time, you’ll see that you’re on the right track.

Some of the most powerful tools can be the simplest, so don’t be deceived by the extreme simplicity of this one. Conversations and reactions happen very quickly, so pausing before you speak can be tricky to do in the moment. Everything we talk about here at A Clean Mind, though, is habit-forming. We replace old habits with new ones. Over time, we notice that we’ve changed quite a bit, and we like the direction we’re headed. It all happens one day at a time, though. So go out and practice. You’ll probably be having a conversation with someone in the next hour or two, if not much less, so opportunities abound. You don’t have to know the person, so it can be the cashier at the grocery store. That’s where you practice. The real work, though, is done with those closest to us, because that’s where our buttons tend to get pushed. The pause is harder to do then, but it’s also most important to do then. That’s where the real power lies to transform our lives to being much more peaceful. The practice with the person at the grocery store will greatly help prepare you for your loved ones. And the normal, happy conversations with your loved ones will greatly prepare you for the more dicey conversations and arguments. So go to the grocery store and practice! Don’t go there hungry, though…

Passing On Two Nice Views Of Boston Tragedy

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

This will be brief. By now, you’ve probably seen, read, and heard quite a bit about the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon. I don’t have anything original to add except to pass on a couple of nice, brief, general views I came across. You’ve probably come across them as well, but if not, here we go…

One is by Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He once said that when something terrible happens, look for the helpers. There will always be helpers coming in pretty quickly. We’ve seen this every time there has been a large-scale tragedy. I had not thought of this before.

The other view that I saw is from the comedian Patton Oswalt. I had never heard of him before. He made a pretty good point that there are tons of people on earth now, over seven billion, in fact, and the good outnumber the bad. By far. He’s not saying that most people are saints; just that most people are definitely not interested in blowing other people up and killing large numbers of innocent victims. And he’s totally right.

It’s pretty easy to get down when we look at the current state of our world, even without bombs going off at marathons. When the bombs go off and people open fire in movie theaters, though, it can be almost impossible to not get down. The two points made above, though, are still true. There are always the helpers coming in right away, and the good still outnumber the bad. By far.

Client Likes Panic Attacks!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I have a client who just blew me away. He’s a smart kid who’s in his late teenage years. He came in reporting feelings of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fear of the future/unknown, and issues with death and dying. We did the normal first session teachings that you’ve read about here, and then we applied this new way of seeing things to his specific concerns. He seemed to really get it. We decided that two weeks would be a good amount of time to pass before he came back in.

So he came back in, and I asked how the last two weeks had been. He said he was feeling much better about things. Yes! I asked about the panic attacks, and he said they were now “no big deal.” Yes! I asked if he had had any of them since we had met, and he said that he had had two of them. One lasted for two minutes and one lasted for thirty seconds. I was trying to contain my laughter and tears of joy… It gets better, though. He said, “I kind of like them now, because they force me to stop and kind of meditate.” Remember that the teaching on panic attacks is just like any other feeling – stop, breathe, and welcome it. Totally allow it, but don’t hold it. Let it go. You can even demand more intensity, and watch what happens. You get less fearful of it and it goes away. He did this and it seems that they’ve been exposed as being not so bad. Remove the fear and welcome it, and you have a little kitty instead of a huge tiger. He actually said, “It kind of makes me feel invincible, as if anything that could be stress-causing can’t touch me.” YES!! We’ve talked quite a bit about our reality as a spiritual being and not a body, and he hit the nail on the head in this context. If you’re spirit and not a body, then you literally are invincible. The body is never invincible, but you are. You ain’t a “meatsuit.” He got a big taste of this. Whoa.

At this point, we were about five minutes into the session, and I didn’t know what we’d talk about the rest of the time. Hilarious. I scanned the notes from the first session and asked him about the rest of the things we had talked about. What about death and dying? No problem. He had a 24-year-old cousin die of cancer back in Fall 2012, and this shook him up quite a bit. It helped a lot to just really talk about death with somebody for the first time. I might’ve told him about how I actually feel closer to my dad since his death over a decade ago – I don’t remember. And my dad and I had gotten along just fine. I had also seen a gifted psychic a year after his passing, and that was a real game-changer. Understatement… That was a game-changer for my whole life. “Logical math guy” had to open up to the fact that the rules I’d grown up believing were not even close to valid.

I had also recommended a documentary on Netflix called The Afterlife. He watched this and loved it, saying it helped to see other opinions and viewpoints. The movie features a couple of medical doctors (i.e. trained scientists), and they approach the afterlife and near-death experiences from a totally logical, scientific viewpoint. They gather data and do all of those “scientific” things. That really appeals to me, as my readers know by now. Speaking of which, I just learned of a professor named Gary Schwartz, Ph.D, who studies the intersection of science and spirit. Cool stuff. Anyway, death and dying no longer seem to be an issue for my client.

I asked about fear of the future and fear of the unknown, and he said there’s still some of that. I said that I have some of that, too. He knows what to do with it now, though – stop and let go of it. Any feeling will pass. Any thought will pass. He can let it go and then remind himself that it’s just that pattern of fear of the future and of the unknown – no big deal. He reminds himself that he’s here now, so just live now. Great job.

We had covered all of the bases from the first session, so I asked about his daily life and how he can incorporate this major simplification. He said he can just live – go to school and work and keep it simple. He was getting stressed in math class recently, so he walked out, sat in the hall, and just breathed and let it go. He walked in feeling much better, and he had friends who could let him know what he had missed. Excellent! He was watching a depressing movie one day, and he felt himself feeling pretty bad and thinking negatively. He paused the movie, stopped, and released. He felt much better and watched the rest of the movie. In each case, he stopped a snowball while it was small and let it melt. Then he continued what he was doing. Yes!

Another thing he said was really awesome. He works at a restaurant, and it sounds like it’s not exactly his dream job. He’s found joy in helping his co-workers, though. He noticed that when he helps them, and it could be in very simple ways, it makes them happy. And this makes him happy. Yes! I explained how we have a warped concept of giving and receiving here on Earth. We think that when we give something, we lose it. When we receive something, somebody else loses it. This sure seems to be true in the material world, but with things like love and happiness, we give in order to receive. If you want love or happiness, give it away freely and watch what happens. Great stuff.

Well, that’s the tale for today. Whenever a client seems to really “get it” the first time they come in, I get excited about seeing them the next time. Life sometimes throws the kitchen sink at them in that time, which of course I warn them about. It doesn’t always happen like that, though. Anyway, I always want to see how they are when they return. This guy blew me away. I told him that the same things he’s been doing will work for the rest of his life. This is literally Human 101, the Laws of Living on Earth. They will not change. Life might throw more at him, but never get discouraged if it messes you up. Just get back on that horse. Feelings are still temporary and the voice in the head is still not the voice of truth. There’s no reason for him to come back in unless something big comes up or he wants to go deeper into some of the things we talked about, like the spiritual stuff. That’s his call, and I’m here if he needs me. But for most of what life will have in store for him, he’s all set as his own therapist now. And it’s times like this when I really love my job.