Pause Button

We’ve heard that counting to ten can help us diffuse our anger.

Doing a Google search on that brings up differing opinions of researchers about the effectiveness of that technique. Some say it can make things worse by dwelling on the problem during that count.

I don’t take the “count to ten” literally. For me, the point is to PAUSE and rationally think about the most appropriate response rather than react in a way other people and I will regret.

Sometimes it only requires thinking calmly for three seconds, weighing the options.

Sometimes it means not replying to that email or returning that call until tomorrow. Sometimes it means walking away and having that conversation later.

A PAUSE and time passing help develop the right perspective.

Immediately reacting when confronted with a stressful incident doesn’t usually end well.

It can result in us lashing out rashly. Or making a bad decision.

Of course, this does not apply to professional emergency responders who have training and good instincts for quick action.

This is about everyday events and ordinary people.

Respond Rather Than React

I have found that not reacting at all, even forcing a blank look and a relaxed stance, and maybe counting awhile while breathing a little more deliberately and deeply gives me the opportunity to react in a saner way that will not cause me to have regret.

I can be constructive rather than destructive.

I believe that if we would all stop, literally or figuratively count to ten, breathe deeply and try to relax our bodies, put some distance between us and the issue, the following could result:

There would be fewer:

  • Road rage incidents
  • Fights and shootings
  • Worthless arguments
  • People in jail
  • Broken relationships including divorces

There are also benefits to pausing and counting to ten that don’t involve anger. They simply provide an opportunity to make a better decision.

Some of these are deciding to NOT:

  • eat that sugar laden dessert
  •  spend money on something that’s not needed
  • agree to do something that you later wish you did not have on your calendar
  • turn on the TV to spend yet another worthless evening
  • have one more drink
  • agree to that rendezvous

Pushing the PAUSE button, stepping back, counting a little, breathing, relaxing and taking the long view can help.

Keep the End in Mind

As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Pushing the PAUSE button gives us a chance to make a new positive beginning rather than rush a tragic end.

While PAUSING, don’t dwell on the immediate issue or situation.  Think about how you want things to be.

What do you want to be thinking, feeling, and doing in an hour, a week, and a year?

What matters?

We can’t take actions, words, or emails back. Let’s pause and do it right.

p.s.  This is not easy stuff. After I had finished writing this yesterday, I was driving on Parkers Mill Road, a narrow two-lane country road and some $#@& ^** was coming at me 3/4 of the way in my lane, looking at something besides the road. I might not have followed my own advice for a second or two and then…PAUSE …breathe 1…..breathe 2….breathe 3….


  • Push the Pause Button
  • Breathe
  • Count to Ten
  • Take the long view
  • Stay on your path to success

What about you?

How can this help you be more confident, connected and professional?