Ever left a movie just as the credits were about to roll only to find out later that you missed hilarious outtakes that the director tagged onto the end?
You think, “man, if I’d just stayed put that few extra seconds I would’ve seen them!”
And how is keeping your butt in the chair going to make you amazing you may well be asking yourself.
Ah…. ’tis the power of the pause.
And not for the reasons you might think.
Do you feel you’re living life as if you’re in front of a pitching machine? Relentlessly swinging steadily and forcefully just keep the balls in the air?
No time to think, just keep an eye on the incoming and swing before you miss it. Then swing again. And again. And again.
You’re not alone. Daily responsibilities and commitments keep us hustling.
But! (there’s always a but…)
You’ve a stupendous power you aren’t invoking.
Yes. Pausing. Pausing before you… well, do pretty much anything. I’ve got three examples for you.
Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?
You probably don’t do it consciously, but I bet you cut in on someone while they’re talking. Or, maybe jump in the nano-second they’ve finished because you already know what you want to say (as soon as you figured out where they were going you tuned them out and started mentally planning your reply)
You’ve usually just missed what they were trying to tell you because you stopped listening. (Ok, technically not the point of this piece, but it’s a pet peeve of mine so I’m slipping it in here because I’m bad that way)
Pausing after someone finishes speaking will often let them realize they haven’t finished speaking. (Human nature likes to fill in dead air).
What comes out of their mouths next can be something completely unexpected, deeper, revealing, dare I say real? This is ever so true with friends.
Practicing a pause before replying leads to deeper discussions. People start to expand on their thoughts or clarify them giving you new insights and resulting in deeper relationships.
You kiss your mother with that mouth?
We open our mouth for all sorts of good and bad reasons. Emotional triggers, old hurts, slights imagined or real can light a fire of demonic outpouring that feels good at the time. Usually, though, it’s followed by regrets and damaged relationships.
Instead, next time you walk into a room and see dirty underwear on the floor, pause.
Pay attention to what is happening in your body and thoughts. You’ve the chance to recognize you’re on the verge of spewing crap because you feel lousy and your mind is bombarding you with old arguments, memories, hurts, annoyances quickly turning the heat up on your temper.
Once you recognize that’s where you are, you can take a few slow breaths, cut yourself some slack (aka self-compassion) and let your strong feelings subside.
Congratulations, you’ve just invoked your superpower.
Shut my what?
Oh dear, this is one I really need to bear down on.
I’m considering painting a sign for my studio: Shut your pie hole.
Pause before eating. Pause while eating. Just friggin’ pause.
Mindfulness is so very helpful here, and it has been for me and usually is. Except for when it isn’t… However, it’s a practice and we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, right? Perfectly, imperfect I like to think.
The point being, pausing allows to not only enjoy the fact that you’re fortunate enough to have something to eat, to enjoy the flavours, textures and sounds, but pausing also allows you to recognize when you are full.
Yes, you might recognize some of these techniques are from mindfulness practice. Being present, paying attention, breathing… all of these contribute to a deeper dive into your own life.
It doesn’t matter whether you practice mindfulness or just want to deepen your connection with your partner, neighbours or others or whether you want to be part of a larger conversation, or even have the chance to make a bigger impact.
That’s it. Plain and simple.
It is going to unleash a superpower in you that will bring amazing benefits.
So, you see, there’s much to be said for keeping your butt in the chair a few seconds longer (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Ready to start? Why not pick just one area where you commit to pausing. (Be prepared to be amazed!)