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Once a day look at one soulless aspect of your culture and don’t participate.
My coworker has been on vacation to Aruba for 10 days. Thank God she returns tomorrow!. I haven’t had much time to pause let alone think that much for 10 working days! I have Friday off so I am looking forward to a little break and I signed up for a much needed exercise class!
Driving, driving, driving. Can you tell that I get frustrated with the aggressive driving I see now days? The only person who gets hurt by frustration is me.
Rabbit, You are not alone!! I used to love to drive…now it is a chore- and everything is 30-40 minutes from our home…from a dirt road out to a “4 lane” highway (2 lanes each way). On the highway…people are just crazy…speed is out of control and people are just unkind and as you said aggressive. Be safe!!
To pause in situations where otherwise emotions would take over. For quite some range, learning and understanding has brought quite some capacity for equanimity, inner balance and ability to respond despite such turmoil. In the same time this question and your beautiful contributions made me aware that to pause seemed not yet to be possible when panic is “on”. To be seen in this with compassion would have helped when I was a child, compassion of dear friends and to talk with them and to be able to see it is a delusion helped now to each time come out of it even quicker but would not stop its being triggered again. To take distance from this false self, as Antoinette so wisely said helps a lot and might be a perspective not to fall into this trap again and again. To alter perspective from my naive believing everything, to don´t believe in anything and take care of everything as a dear friend once gave advice. Thank you dearly for all your posts and all your goodness you made me experience today. 🙏
I feel that as precision and mastery is developed, there is an increased awareness of the stillness and silence between each moment. The opportunity is in every moment.
Today I will invite myself to pause when interacting with children throughout my day; both my own son and the group of second graders I’m taking out to the tidepools. I’m often quick to react when a child does something they are not supposed to, especially the kids who frequently test my patience. Today I will do my best to remember that these children are exploring their world and that doesn’t always correspond with staying in line and following the rules. Moreover, I will remember that many of them have rough situations at home, and each one has a unique abilities and needs. I will do my best to pause before I respond. Thanks for all the great ideas here today!
How did it go? I used to love field trips with my kids classrooms especially in nature!
Aloha Robin Ann. We had a great time. I still struggled with remembering to pause at times, but it was a beautiful day and the kids saw lots of fun creatures.
This is a great reminder. Anxiety can create
a false urgency. There is always time for a
breath before reacting.
At first this question reminded me that I should improve my ability to take a pause before reacting, then I’ve read what Kevin and Carol wrote and I’ve changed my perspective. Maybe the point for me is another one: I need a pause to respond instead of react.
Anyway, Kevin is right, in some situations there are spontaneous (and beautiful) way to react.
Each day has many opportunities to pause before reacting – some days more than others, some opportunities more appropriate or even necessary than others. As Kevin mentions, sometimes a quick or spontaneous reaction is invited, or required.
Thank you for this reminder- to be aware when a moment, conversation or experience invites a pause, rather than a quick reaction. Will bring this self-awareness into the day, and perhaps practice stop, look, go with greater awareness.
Being retired I don’t often have demands on my time other than the ones I impose on myself. Just now as I end todays appointments I am enjoying a coffee and jam and cream scone. Never forget to treat yourself you deserve it dear reader.
Sad to say that I place endless demands on myself. Perhaps it is my lifelong search for praise, and I would do better to praise myself, relax, and have that coffee and scone.
Every human interaction provides the opportunity to practice a pause before responding. Every time I start to type a response to something on the internet, for sure. Especially if my response is taking issue with what someone said, I have a critical opportunity to pause before reacting. A pause in which to ask myself: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said *by me*? Does this need to be said *right now*? Is this how I want to invest my one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver wrote?
Mary Oliver was wise. Nice to see her name here. Thanks, Barb for your wisdom.
I share a true story I wrote that gratefulness.org was kind enough to feature on this website a few years ago. It speaks to today’s question–a question that reminds me of the difference between reacting and responding to a situation. The best definition I have ever heard for the word “responsibility” is “the ability to respond.” Here’s the story:
A Little Bird Told Me So by Carol Ann Conner
One day several years ago, when I opened the kitchen door to my garage, a small bird had apparently been trapped in the garage all night and seeing the opening, immediately flew into the house. My first reaction was to run through the house closing bedroom and bathroom doors to contain the bird before it could fly out of the main part of my home;. Then I reasoned that if I propped open my French doors and my front and back door, the bird would quickly find its way outside.
By the time I accomplished these tasks, the little bird was frantically flying from one end of the living and dining room area to the other. Without thinking, I began chasing the bird, trying to get it to fly through one of the open doors and find its freedom but it was so desperately disoriented that my efforts only heightened its fear.
I was becoming extremely frustrated. I was reacting not responding to the situation. I had an appointment to keep and I did not want to leave the bird in my house. Compassion for the fear-filled creature was the farthest thing from my mind. After all, it might leave its droppings on my furniture or contaminate something.
Finally, while I was attempting to figure out what else I could do to coax it toward a door, its wings just failed and it collapsed on the floor—its tiny body hyperventilating so violently that I could almost hear its heartbeat racing out of control. I watched with disbelief as it attempted to raise its wings and could not. I knew if I attempted to pick it up, it might die on the spot from fear but I realized I needed to get it outside where it could see the open sky. I wanted it to experience hope.
I went to the kitchen looking for a vessel that I could use to carry the bird outside. I spied a medium-size stainless steel bowl and I quickly rummaged through the lid drawer until I found a lid that fit. Then, I oh-so-gently scooped the bird up off the floor, telling it I was there to help. I covered the bowl with a lid. I set the bowl outside in the grass and removed the lid. The little bird just lay in the bowl breathing hard. I was sure it was dying.
My heart was heavy. I was experiencing remorse and feeling somewhat guilty. I wondered if I hadn’t tried so hard to direct the bird toward one of the open doors; if I had just sat down and created a welcoming environment, would the frightened creature have found its way to freedom before it collapsed.
I went in the house; there was nothing more I could do. The bird would either fly or die. I got ready for my appointment and opened the garage door. I started the car and doubted I would have the courage to glance into the bowl on my way out of the driveway. I had the vision of a dead little bird lying there but I was wrong. I did look and thankfully, the bird was gone. It had survived my lack of sensitivity and left me with a powerful lesson about the importance of responding instead of reacting. It had taught me the need to practice compassion for the other no matter what the circumstances.
In the following days, the event became a meditation. I admitted to myself that I had turned a situation into a problem. I had failed to show compassion for the bird until it collapsed. I was reminded that compassion means “to be with.” I decided that compassion for that tiny creature might have made a big difference.
As I relived the scene, I remembered looking down at the bird as it lay writhing on my living room floor and thinking that bird is scared to death; and with hindsight, I now know I would have been, too. I realized that if you locked me in a dark-cold-place like my garage with no avenue of escape and as soon as I saw daylight and a possible way out, a huge creature started chasing me, I, too, would have experienced sheer panic.
To this day, I’m so grateful that the bird survived and I’m very thankful for the lesson in self-awareness I gained. No one will ever again be able to tell me that animals, plants, even majestic mountains and rivers do not feel. I do my best these days, in all situations, to take a breath, to choose to respond instead of react to the life we share with not only other humans but all of creation. How do I know that a pause is important? A little bird told me so.
Thank you dearly for sharing this, dear Carol. Your story is touching and moving me deeply, as this feeling of being almost frozen to death by panic was so familiar to me at some time in my childhood and could easily be triggered. Somehow your words brought me to tears and eased this old wound , even opened up to speak about this. Blessings, dear friend. 🙏🙇🙏
Thank you Carol for sharing, your story is very inspiring. It amaze me the way nature has always a lesson to teach us.
Just beautiful!! Lots to think about as we move throught the world where all of us are gentle creatures. I will keep your story in my heart and apply it as I go into the world. Blessings to you.
I don’t always read others responses before writing my own…today, I did and Kevin always adds a new perspective..WOW! Thank you! I am one never to pause…always -REACT! But being here with all of you folks has enlightened me…I now – often but not always STOP-LOOK- GO. I give myself a few moments- deep breaths and move on. But as Kevin so wisely reminds us…there are more times than not…to just go with the emotion…or situation. It is important to know the difference of when and how to react. This space and all of you make each day a learning experience. Thank you once again!
There are so many opportunities to pause. I agree that some situations require immediate reactions but others, a pause brings clarity and judgment. I am in a relationship that requires me “to pick my battles”, so I do pause before speaking or acting.
Yram, I, too, remind myself often, to pause before I speak or act. I ask myself, “Is this really worth falling on my sword?”
“Is this the hill I want to die on today?” is my version.
From today it will be my version too, thank you Barb.
I get these kinds of opportunities dealing with customers, with my employees, with my dogs and with my husband. There are always going to be things that arise where we should pause before reacting, like choosing our words wisely. But then there are other times, as Kevin mentioned, when no pause is needed and we have to/should react immediately. My favorite is when the reaction is, “I love you, too.” 🙂
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