Breathe, Pause, and Consider

No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.

– George Jean Nathan

There is evidence to this fact. Studies have shown that we lose the ability to think straight when we are engulfed in anger. 

Our ability to function at our highest level of cognitive thought diminishes immensely. We are left with reactionary instinct, which usually leads to rash decisions.

Can you recall a moment when you’ve said something in the passion of the moment that sliced through your opponent? I can, and not with any appreciation or pride. 

What stings my heart is the hurt that devoured their being and soul. Because that’s what happens to those who stand against us when we’re saturated in anger. 

They become an opponent – someone to conquer, battle, and overcome. 

They are no longer our loved ones, friends, or co-workers. They are no longer humans that have feelings, thoughts, and history. They are the enemy and they must be destroyed.

And there’s always this idea that if we do charge ahead in the throes of our reactionary-self that we can come back and fix what we laid asunder. 

Sometimes this is true but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we lose what we so desperately cherished because we were angry and threw verbal punches. 

But with all this evidence and study and even personal experience, are we quick to pause, assess, and take the best action needed for the situation?

Maybe. Maybe not. 

I have several memories from years past where I wish I had known how to respond differently.

I wish I had paused. Considered what I felt and needed. Considered what I could do without. Considered the importance and impact of my words. 

Considered the best way to deliver those words or boundaries or intentions. And then implemented them with the sound and indisputable knowledge that I couldn’t force someone to my will. 

Not if I truly wanted to have a healthy and loving relationship with them, that is. Or myself, because let’s be real, the one person I’m most intimate with is me, myself, and I. I need to have a loving relationship with myself too.

And trying to force another into doing what I want has always had disasterous consequences for me, whether it’s been immediate or not.

Today, I have more moments, though, of doing just that, pausing, assessing, and responding instead of reacting. Those moments have taken time and practice.

I’ve had to cultivate willingness to look outside of myself for ideas, suggestions, and answers on how to respond differently. To not let my anger run amuck, unsupervised and wild.

When I clench my fists now, I know to breath, pause, and consider the situation. This way I don’t jump head first into the worse decision I could make. 

Most things are not as urgent as my mind likes to tell me either. There is always time, even if just a few minutes, to unclench and seek solution rather than more problem.

Image Source: Flickr

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