Last post was a list of things to quit. Part of changing to healthier ways of living is quitting old bad habits that no longer fit into our growing life style. However, not quitting healing is an important journey. I am thankful that my first counselor understood how much work there is in healing past trauma. He also understood the need for pause. Pause means taking a break. Every year he would take a one to two week vacation. He understood the importance of putting things on pause to refresh, reorganize and generally take a break. Pause is for a time. Sometimes longer than we originally plan. When I wrote my list of personal rights, I listed taking breaks during a task. (Post about writing your own list of human rights: https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2015/06/18/i-have-rights/) At first my counselor teased me a little, “For a year or two.” No, I corrected him, “To go to the bathroom.” Yep, many in abusive relationships are afraid to pause and go to the bathroom. A pause for self care. Stop the frantic rush forward to eat a well cooked meal at home or a restaurant (not fast food.) A real vacation, not one that is a working vacation with another lengthy to-do list, but a real live visit the woods/beach/amusement park style vacation. A pause to paint a picture, crochet a blanket, or play the piano or harmonica. I noticed that when I take time to pause, I lessen my anxiety levels. Part of the emotional trauma was a constant jumping through hoops trying to appease my abuser. No matter how hard I tried the bar was constantly raised and raised to make sure I could not succeed. The constant scrambling for a particle of approval diminished my ability to perform. Now when I am frantically moving from activity and to activity, I use the pause button and ask myself some key questions.
What am I trying to accomplish, really? Am I trying to finish a project or meet someone else’s expectation? Is the dead line real or one put in place to keep me moving forward? Is what I am doing actually need to be done at all?
Who is ‘making me’ do it? I spent a lot of my life feeling like I ‘had’ to do certain things. I still remember my counseling looking around when I started a statement with “I have to…..” I asked him what he was looking for, “The person holding the gun to your head.” I’m an adult now, there are things I choose to do but darn few I actually have to do. Paying taxes is on the have-to list
Is what I am doing moving me closer to my dreams and goals? It is amazing how many things I give myself to do that is outright busy work. Looks busy but accomplishes very little.
If I don’t like the answers to any one of these questions, maybe I need to reevaluate what I am doing and do I need to do what I am doing?
Years ago, when my mother went back to work, she felt overwhelmed trying to keep up with “EVERYTHING”. She decided to make a list of everything she did and asked us to rate them 1-10 on how important we thought those jobs were. She was shocked by how many things she was doing that we totally did not care if they happened at all. Now, I do this for myself. If I am feeling overwhelmed with what I am doing, what is on my list to do that doesn’t need to be there at all.
Here are some links to other articles/books about the Power of Pause: