We don’t go for an opportunity, we tell a lie, we shoot off the email that we should never have sent or we make a rash decision. What we don’t do is take a pause. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to look at what we are about to do and consider, really consider, the possible consequences of our action. Because if we actually paused we would, likely, make very different decisions.
Let’s tell the truth, part of our reactivity comes from being a bit lazy. Thinking is work. We aren’t necessarily in the habit of considering what the outcome of an action might be. I also believe that part of our reactivity comes from our speeded up world. We hit send on tweets and texts and then wish we hadn’t. Or we say the first thing that comes to mind because our audience is impatient for an answer or because we aren’t comfortable with sitting in silence. And, lest you think that you are the only one who suffers from reactivity, consider all the professional politicians who have gotten themselves in hot water that cost them their jobs because they reacted without thinking.
When we give ourselves time to pause we take the reactivity, which gets us in so much trouble, out of the equation. In the pausing we are able to consider what we are doing. When we pause we get to hear the excuse we are about to give, the lie we are about to tell or the rationale for why we can’t do something before the words come out of our mouth. We give ourselves the opportunity to consciously decide if this is the action we want to take or not.
When we pause we are telling ourselves that we value our judgment enough to listen to our inner voice. The voice that, if we will get quiet enough to hear it, comes from the truth of who we are. The noisy world makes it hard to hear that voice. Pausing gives us the space to tune into our internal bandwidth. That bandwidth, made of our unique experiences, our stories and our values will guide us to decisions that honor rather than diminish us.
Pausing, taking the time to consider that our first response may not be the best one, takes discipline but the rewards can be enormous. When we pause we give our better self the time to break the habit that can lead to self-sabotage. When we pause we acknowledge that there is a wisdom we can only access in quiet reflection and we open ourselves to that wisdom.
Slowing down to the speed of conscious thought is worth the time and the effort. Slowing down to the speed of conscious thought allows us to access our better angels and leave our demons by the door. So as you work through whatever self-sabotaging tendencies you have, give yourself the gift of time. Take your time and pause before making any major decision. Trust your inner voice, have faith that you can make choices that support you in your goal of being on your own side and not an obstacle in your own way.
Self-sabotage is often subtle but taking a pause will help you change that behavior one moment, one choice at a time.