Client leaders are sharing that times are tough (e.g., the pandemic, shift out of the pandemic, a divided nation, and violent shootings). Executives are searching for practices to show up more grounded, responsive, and inspiring versus emotionally reactive and ineffective.
One client’s favorite tool is the “pause button” – simple yet not always easy to do. Another client uses a mantra: stimulus, hit the pause button and wait, then respond. He reminds himself, just because I think it, doesn’t mean I have to say it. And a friend’s son’s baseball coach has a 24-hour rule that no player, parent, or whomever is allowed to comment on the game for 24 hours following the finality of game time.
What is the pause button? The idea of taking some time away when you feel triggered by a situation or person in order to rest and reset. This allows the brain to slow down and the nervous system to settle; as a result, the mind becomes clearer, and you gain a better perspective. Once you are in a calmer mind state, you can show up more intentional and less reactive. It’s interesting to remember that we are wired by evolution to be alarmists, so things are usually not as bad as they seem at first.
One phrase that helps client leaders is this too shall pass. Whatever situation is happening in the moment, however you or others are feeling, whatever joy or pain you or others are experiencing, it’s only temporary.
The Pause Button
- Do I really need to react to this situation or person?
- Is it urgent or can I allow myself to take a pause before I respond, so my brain has time to settle, and I can show up from a place of being calm, decisive, grounded, and compassionate?
- Keeping in mind, this too shall pass, notice how you feel and what your state of mind is after 24 hours, after 48 hours, and after 72 hours?
Favorite Client Pause Buttons
- Take ten deep breaths
- Journal – first draft for yourself, second for the other person
- Be present in your body (e.g., feel the sensations of your feet on the ground, feel your back against the chair)
- Walk or be with your dog
- Have a good night’s sleep or take a nap (emotional first aid)
- Bake cookies
- Prepare and have dinner with good friends and family
- Travel somewhere new for the day, night, weekend, or week
- Turn off your phone at 5pm (or after hours) and weekends or leave it in another room
- Be or walk in nature
- Tend to flowers and plants
- Paint or draw
- Gaze at the stars, in the hot tub
- Take breaks from the news
- Play a round of golf
- Enjoy a glass of wine or watch a good TV show (yes, when done with the right intention, this counts too!)
- What pause button works for you?