3 life areas that will benefit when you use the power of a pause

Life at times can be busy. Ideally, we want to buy into the idea that life will only be as busy as we allow it to be. I do not know about you, but when I read that statement it feels like it is something I would get from a fortune cookie. Yes, I can influence the level of busyness of mine and my family’s life by looking at what commitments we agree to, activities outside of work and school we choose to participate in and the level of hard I want to make things. Other things we may not be able to necessarily choose. For example, overhearing a mom at my children’s dentist office months ago scheduling her third child’s orthodontist appointment (yes, I wanted to offer her either a hug or a mom of the year award) and seeing the increased busyness that family was going to experience appeared to be a need that also brought more busy.

It is extremely easy to get swept away in the busy. The idea of pausing is something I have needed to remind myself of often. If I am going to be truly honest it really is more like me slowing down to see the tremendous value in the pause. If you have been reading my posts for the last year you have learned through my visibility that busy and I have an ongoing working relationship. One that is full of listening and at times negotiating.

It was one evening a few months ago after the world of busy was piling up that I went for a run to do some thinking. Often, I find I do my best thinking and recall past life lessons (that I did not know were lessons) when I get my sneakers on. Here was a reminder of a powerful memory that looking back truly was a life gift in learning the value of taking a pause.

It was the week before graduate school was to begin and the incoming students arrived a few days early for teambuilding. On the last day we piled into a van and drove to a ropes course. It was a day to be filled with activities and exercises. One activity scared for me I am not a fan of heights (it was a zip- lining like activity) but it did provide me the opportunity to cheer on others offering support and “ you got this” with high fives. It was here I fell in love with the concept of cheering.

Now the power of the PAUSE exercise. For the last event we were brought to a grassy area and before us were two large trees and in between them was a log about 2 feet up from the ground. The task was for the group of us (about 15 in total) to all stand on this log simultaneously and sing the song row, row, your boat. Think of a Survivor challenge, but before the show was a thing.

Picture it, 15 adults being given this task within a certain amount of time in the Florida sun. The first several tries, while not successful, were done with calm and openness. However, as the timer ticked, and the sun beamed stronger things said were not as calm and gentle. Finally, the timer went off, rescuing us from our built-up frustration, sense of disconnect and even concern of not being understood or part of the group. The facilitator walked us over to a picnic table where each of us picked up a bagged lunch. From there we were shown a shaded area where we were to spread out and eat our lunch in silence, not looking or engaging with anyone else. Thirty minutes later the facilitator came back and brought us once again in front of this log that not too long ago was a source of contention.

He walked away for a few minutes leaving us alone to strategize and when he came back, we were to try the task again. What happens next is a memory that I hope to always remember. That group of 15 adults that less than an hour ago were hot and tired, frustrated and probably even a bit angry, got on that log the very first time we tried. We sang that song as if we were on The Voice. We nailed it! You see, taking the pause provided time to be quiet. Collect ourselves. Visualize out intentions when we showed up back together to work on a task.

Let us talk how the power of the pause can help you in these 3 life areas:


Have you ever had the experience of your partner or child coming start talking to you about something that had been weighing on their mind or heart and you had no idea it was coming? As they stood before you to share their thoughts you were almost like a deer in headlights. Here is where the power of the pause can be helpful. Instead of staying in that position where your head is spinning, and your tummy is flipping you can pause. I am not insisting on avoiding but simply a pause. It may sound something like this, “I can see this is important to you and something you very much want me to hear.  Let me catch up to you as I was unaware of your need to talk.  I want to hear you.  Let us meet back in twenty minutes (or a time you advocate for and agree upon).  Here, you take a pause while validating and respecting the other person while also being intentional with your own needs.  When you and the other individual agree on a time to reconnect, each of you set a timer and verbally commit (your contract) to come back together.

Someone asking something of you

Think of pause as yellow.  Yellow can provide you the moment(s) to consider possible choices and consequences.  Many years ago, when working with a client and encouraging her to bring pause into her life she went all out to increase her awareness by purchasing a yellow bracelet on Etsy as a visual reminder.  Whether it is a bracelet or a package of peanut M&Ms let us bring yellow into your world!

How can a pause be helpful when being asked of something? Take a moment to reflect on your life as it is now.  Look at it also in the near future.  Are there thoughts of possible tasks and requests being asked of you? Allow thoughts of your today flow back in.  Work expectations.  Household responsibilities.  Parenting and couple needs.  Notice if any sense of overwhelm is felt.  Observing and feeling this is your ticket to self-care with busy. In the future when someone asks something of you (whether it is to help with a carpool, be a team mom, be available for a long listening vent session).  This physical sensation may return.  Let us be grateful it resurfaced as an opportunity to take a personal pause.  Many things in life are not an emergency.  Should you notice a sensation allow yourself to pause and express needing time to determine if you are able and available to fulfill a request.  If after your pause you determine you are unable to fulfill the request, you may offer something else or respectfully decline as you note your own needed self-care.

Decision Making

We have all had at least one time when making decision was overwhelming.  Whether it was what to cook for dinner, what school to enroll your child in, or choosing a vacation with your partner it is very normal at times to feel that way.  I assure you; it is not only individuals who struggle with perfectionism that feel this.

When Covid was entering our world in March I had set up telehealth but was going back and forth with embracing it and putting it into action. Finally, after a day of sessions I put into place a pause for myself in the form of driving away and parking to do some internal listening.  That brief time away allowed me to take the pause I needed.

Taking a pause in decision making for you may not look like going for a drive.  Instead, the pause may be taking time to draft a pro/con list.  It may be taking time to call your girlfriend to talk it out.  However, it looks for you is the right way to do it.

I challenge you over the next week to be an investigator of your life and see when you need a pause.  Write down those times as you may learn some triggers.  Celebrate yellow and taking care of yourself when your mind and body sent a message requesting it.

The most empowering seat is the one YOU choose.  Schedule your online therapy session at www.heleneshute.com by simply pressing on “book it” or by phoning 239-848-2022 and I will meet you where you are at and work with you to get you where you want to go.



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