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We’ve been endowed with all kinds of mental, physical, and spiritual assets, some of which we take for granted. Are you aware that you have a special mental mechanism that can prevent you from putting one or both feet in your mouth? Some might call it self-restraint; I call it the “pause button.” Granted, effective operation of this built-in device requires some self-awareness, but I know from experience that it works. Pushing pause helps you block a troublesome thought before it incites a negative emotion or sparks a sarcastic comment you’ll later regret. In short, the pause button is the secret to self-control.

If you don’t learn to push pause, defensive or argumentative comments escape your mouth and trap you in a stranglehold. When that occurs, both parties struggle for dominance without realizing resolution is impossible because you’ve both lost control. Like a DVD player that allows you to stop and change tracks in midstream, once you push pause, you can instantly choose to change your behavior and alter your course before it’s too late.

Pushing your personal pause button keeps you from being piggish and pushy. It gives you time to separate the facts from your self-created stories. Your pause button allows you to make the wise choice of weaning yourself from long-ago established poor listening habits. At first you might be a little “slow on the draw.” It might feel slightly awkward when you start pushing your pause button in the heat of the moment, but once you develop your new habit of stopping the action, you’ll be on the road to healthier relationships. You’ll recognize more opportunities to be a positive influence.

Challenge: For the next week, try to be aware of your emotions as you experience them. When you find yourself barreling down a negative track, push pause. consider the outcome you want, and act to achieve the desired results. It’s pretty easy to do once you realize it puts you in the driver’s seat of your own emotions.

(Taken from You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing, pgs. 68-69)