Five Gifts to receive from a PAUSE
“I don’t have time, I am very busy”, this was a friend’s response in our group-chat regarding a plan to hang-out on a weekend. Another friend wrote, “Me too, but we’ve got to make time, you know!” And then each one had to say how much of work they have to lay aside to be able to meet up for an hour or two in an evening. They all communicated how one hour of hanging out could break the rhythm of their daily lives.
To my attempts of wanting to negotiate a timing that would suit all of us, she added, “but you are not as busy as we are.” And, in my mind I kept thinking about the amount of time I devote to work, studies, training, family, myself, close friends and community. Yes, I am not as busy as them, and that’s perhaps because I am learning to prioritize things differently and I’m learning to choose the kind of ‘busyness’ that does not consume me.
In today’s corporate culture, being “busy” has been the new measure of progress and success. The busier we get, the more we give an impression that we are doing something more important with our lives. No matter what that busyness is all about! We are sort of addicted to the tandems of work-culture.
A pause for a breather, a break, a time of rest is often seen as lacking aspiration and being lazy or unproductive. Busyness, I think, is becoming a brand for success in our times and its absence sounds alarming to us, causing anxiousness and restlessness.
But, did not the pandemic challenge us all in this regard? A forced pause- difficult for most of us but it gave us opportunities to weigh our needs, evaluate what matters the most, assess where our time, attention, energy and resources should go.
Abraham Harold Maslow, an American psychologist of the 18th century gave us his theory of hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health, in which he mentions that most of us toil to fulfill the lower order needs (physiological needs): food, clothing and shelter (aka. roti, kapda and makaan in native terms), and few people move up the hierarchy to pursue more social, emotional, and self-actualizing needs. Although his theory is faced with criticism, the framework Maslow has provided has been helpful to rethink our needs, motivations and pursuits. One could get by life just striving to get the basics met and never take time to explore what else life could be about.
One can hardly ascend the hierarchical pyramid if one does not take some time for some introspection and self-evaluation. To demand such space in our busyness is quite contrary to our cultures, isn’t it?
We can’t even wait for the traffic lights to turn green! Imagine having to be in a queue for more than five minutes. Don’t we hurriedly grab our phones and try doing something to compensate for our restlessness? With everything being available to us at our fingertips, we are tuned to instant gratification and to wait for anything is a far-fetched idea. I bet if you’d even read this blog till the end and try your own patience…Will you?
If the condition of our body muscles and nerves are so attenuated to finding constant activity, you wonder, how it is on the inside- the condition of our inner world! Do they just go with the flow with the demands of external forces or do they also have a mind of their own? Are the worlds within and outside in harmony with one another? To know this, we must PAUSE and realize the power in doing so.
Here are the five gifts to receive from a PAUSE. It offers a space for:
P: Perspective Review
A: Acknowledgement Time
U- Unburdening Loads
S- Soul Searching and
E- Establishing blueprints
1. Perspective Review
A pause is gift. It creates a room to see our own lives from different angles, assess what has worked so far and what isn’t working anymore; what needs a shift so that life gets better. Maybe our answers and opportunities are right in front of us but require an adjustment of our lenses or maybe they are far off and we need to change routes to get there. Without a shift in how we perceive ourselves and our situations, we’d be just subscribing to float in an auto-pilot mode. Now, how appealing is that?
2. Acknowledgement Time
A pause is room for celebration – a celebration of the victories and embracing of the failures. Life is bound to have ups and downs. We easily identify our milestone moments – our first promotion, the day of wedding, the loss of a loved one, that accident…and everything can be brushed under the carpet of standard rituals – cakes, parties, ceremonies, funerals…, but do we take time to actually think and feel how we actually feel? Do we sit long enough on the joyous moments to savor them or grieve long enough and embrace pain, discomfort and uncertainty so that we don’t quickly succumb into the pressure to “move on?” We must acknowledge how we truly feel, deep within… process our joys and sorrows. We must grow into the awareness and acknowledgement of the range of emotions, feelings and urges we have. To deny these is to deny being human.
A friend was processing her trauma with me regarding her lost relationship and the questions I raised helped her realize that it is okay to cry and grieve over her loss and that she does not have to put up a face like everything is all right when it is not. To be able to acknowledge her role in causing that rift and adjusting her expectations about the relationship not only gave her ownership over her story but a deep sense of peace as she experienced a closure to it within herself.
3. Unburdening loads
A pause is an invitation. We have the habit of picking up things that aren’t supposed to be on our shoulders and we keep bearing the weight of them. In some ways, we all give in to the Savior Complex where we try to be over-giving, over-bearing and over-performing. Don’t we imbibe expectations from everywhere- family, workplace, culture and spend maximum energy in pleasing others, sometimes without scrutinizing if those expectations are realistic or not. We’ve got to unburden some of those loads that are not ours to carry. We can’t waste our one life fighting battles that are not our own. A pause helps evaluate what is worth fighting for, and what will still be okay if we let it go.
During a Coaching Conversation, a client expressed her need to be a ‘good daughter-in-law’ and the expectation of their good was beyond normal. She was exhausted trying to meet the demands, most of which were unspoken expectations of the family and few that she laid it on herself- a cultural default. When she realized through her own answers that she needed to be her own person and not exhaust herself trying to stretch beyond her capacity to fulfill multiple roles, she said, she felt free. She’d never thought things could be otherwise and that it needed a perspective shift to let go of her “need” to perform but grow in becoming secure as a person.
4. Soul Searching
A pause is a sacred space. It helps us look within. We effortlessly give in to the stereotypical molds and most of the times expend our energies to fit in.
From the things we buy to the music we listen, all choices are customized for us. So, it is difficult to tell what we actually prefer and love if we were not to be conditioned by such choices. We listen to the noise around so much that we miss to hear the music of our own soul.
It does become important to discover what exhilarates us, what maximizes our joy, what adds value to our lives, and know why we behave/respond/react in certain ways. The attitudes we display, the choices we make, and the things we celebrate usually stem from what we value and believe on the inside. Knowing ourselves help us relate better with the self, others and everything around.
5. Establishing Blueprints
A pause is a breeding ground. It is that place where our experiences, insights and expectations meet. Pauses, like pregnancy, are potent phases where preparation takes place for the birth of the new! We draw the nourishment from sources we should, pick up tools we need for moving forward, devise strategies and roadmaps to get to where we want with clarity, confidence and a shift of energy.
The question now is, how do we PAUSE mindfully? Do we go to the mountains for meditation? Do we ward off all responsibilities and activities to be able to PAUSE?
No, there isn’t a need for us to shut everything down and go away somewhere to be able to pause. Pauses can be incorporated in our daily lives, busy lives. And that’s what Life Coaches and Mentors are for. The trained ears and eyes are able to redirect us to discover and harness the power of pause within.
Pauses are not phases of inactivity or nothingness. It does not happen in a vacuum. We could pause with a cup of tea and a journal, be mindful of our own breathing, engage with someone in a conversation, be truly present to the music we are listening to, do anything that fills our soul and best ever, enter into a “moments of silence”. We all pause differently!
Another question. How long should we pause for?
As long as we need! There is no formula to it. A quick five seconds in a busy traffic signal, a good 15 minutes after an important meeting, a good hour with friends, a day, a week, a month, a season. Once we learn to incorporate pauses into our daily rhythms, we do not have to fight too hard against time to reclaim them. They come as second nature inviting us to live in a state of being wide-awake.
When was the last time you took to PAUSE to do anything that awakens and fills your cup?
How would a PAUSE help you re-steer your ship?
How about we pause for a moment to think about this?