As we approach the end of another year, it feels as though everything begins to shift into fast gear. Suddenly our “to do” lists double in size, the stores overflow with frenzied shoppers, and traffic seems to move at the pace of a turtle. By the end of the day we’ve bottled up so much stress that we feel used up and just plain overwhelmed.
The trouble is, that bottled up emotions often uncork themselves when we least expect it. The least little thing can trigger a release as intense as an erupting volcano. And often there’s an innocent victim on the receiving end of our spew of emotion.
If this sounds familiar to you and you’d like to change it, try using your pause button throughout the day.
It’s helpful to visualize your pause button, so pick one that works best for you. I use the “easy button” from the Staples commercial, and just imagine that it says, “pause” instead.
Here’s how it works:
- Recognize The Trigger - Notice when you start to feel the stress in your body. Maybe you get a knot in your stomach, you clench your jaw, or you get the urge to snipe a sarcastic remark at someone.
- Press Your Pause Button – Imagine yourself pressing PAUSE before you do or say something impulsive.
- Take A Deep Breath – Breathing helps you gather your thoughts and act with a clear head.
- Think – What are the choices in front of me? Which response will result in the best possible outcome?
- Respond – It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing an email, talking to your customer, or driving your car. You’re now ready to respond intentionally rather than react to raw emotion.
You might say, “This takes too long. It won’t work in the heat of a tense moment.” Yes, it does take a little longer than just bottling up your emotions and letting them erupt all at once. But that behavior isn’t working for you.
If you try it and practice, I bet you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can work yourself through the process. Once you get the hang of using your pause button regularly, it becomes a new habit. And you just might find that it can work wonders!