They say that old habits die hard, and from what I’ve experienced with my old habits, it’s true. One completely unproductive old habit that I’m working on changing is the way I react to things. Consider the following scenario; when somebody says something that I may not necessarily agree with or like, it creates an instant passing of judgement, or a reaction. A decision is automatically made and typically my brain is telling me something along the lines of “Nope…they’re wrong. You need to say this…, or do this…, or react like this…” However, I have recently discovered that there’s another option, if you allow it. A space, a pause, a time for reflection, between stimulus and response.
Instead of reacting instantly, spewing out a rebuttal of some sort or a barrage of reasons as to why you’re right and someone else is wrong, just pause. Catch yourself before you even let the automatic thought get started. Just wait.
Let the words fall softly and settle. Get out of your head, and into your heart. Just giving yourself a minute to not respond or react, gives you space. It provides breathing room for you to consider what’s been said, and to just let it be. It’s quite possible that it doesn’t even require a response. In the socially connected era that we live in with instant messaging and immediate response, we think we have to respond right away. It’s a learned behaviour. A habit that could very possibly die hard if you so chose.
The pause allows you to consider the validity of what someone else is saying and go on from there without needing to qualify it as either right or wrong, negative or positive. It just is. It’s a thought, an opinion, an observation of one kind or another. That moment that you give yourself creates an inner calm that slowly but surely undoes the reaction response. Once you’ve done it a few times you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how nice that space can be, and how easy it is to tap into it.
So the next time you feel yourself about to react to something, remember to pause and to check in with your gut, and choose to go with the calm that’s there rather than the chatter in your head. It’s a more peaceful way to go through life. And who wouldn’t choose that?
I'm a Certified Body Language Trainer and Speaker, columnist for Canadian Firefighter magazine and self publish author. I've combined my love of personal development with my passion for the fire service and I teach fire service members across Canada about the power of body language.