The Pregnant Pause: How 7 Seconds Could Help Change Your Life

pause

by theslowman

Are you a people pleaser? Do you find yourself constantly getting into situations where you agree to do things you would not normally do? Always feeling like you have to get something done just because someone asked you?

Can’t seem to get along with anyone? Constantly in mini-battles with coworkers, friends, and family? Always feeling like no one really “gets” you?

If any of this is true for you, I have a suggestion. It’s a small thing, but could give you a great deal more time and energy to be yourself and stop living your life reacting to everything around you.

It’s just one little word but it offers a great big movement towards slowing your life down a little bit and gaining back control. Ready for it?

Pause. (and, no, I’m not talking about the Boondocks “pause.”)

How often are you asked on Monday if you can get that TPS report done by EOD Monday? How often does someone say something so stupid that you have to respond right then and there?

If your world is anything like mine the answer to these is “often” or “all the f*cking time.” I get it and I feel your pain. But, here’s another question: How often do you pause, even if for just 7 seconds, before you react? If your answer is “never,” I want to invite you to try it out.

Make Silence Comfortable

I first came across this idea when I had to prepare a big presentation for one of my former corporate overlords. I was asked to speak in front of at least 100 people. Being a natural introvert, I contemplated running for the hills and becoming a hermit instead of going through with the presentation. That option was clearly impractical, so I decided to do some research instead and see if there were any tricks of the trade to help me calm down and get through it.

One of the tips I read was to imagine the crowd in their underwear, but that felt like it would be more of a distraction than anything else. Another tip I came across suggested taking longer pauses while speaking in public.

The idea is that when we pause the silence feels longer and more uncomfortable to ourselves than it does for the audience. Up in front of a crowd, 7 seconds feels like 700. But that’s not how it feels on the receiving end. This was counter-intuitive enough to be believable (unlike that underwear tip). I decided to try it.

While my presentation itself kind of sucked, remaining conscious of the difference in perception about the pauses I took did help calm me down and maintain a flow that wouldn’t have gone so well otherwise.

Following that, I began putting the pause into play all around me. It got me through a lot of potentially out-of-control scenarios.

The big takeaway is become more comfortable with what feel like unbearable moments of silence – and use them to help fortify yourself against the heat of the moment.

Next, up I’m going to cover some tips for taking the pregnant pause and applying it to our lives.

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