Tool: Pause Before You Speak

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…