Pause – I like the word pause because it implies temporary and not a permanent state. Hold off reactions time and get my reaction out of the amygdala and back into the thinking part of my brain.
Breathe – From yoga and other sources I am learning the power of breathing and allowing our bodies to participate in relaxing. Drop my shoulder, lift my head, breathe from the belly. Slow down my breathing. (Did you know that a 10% increase in oxygen can cause hyperventilation with a whole host of symptoms? That is why I work at slowing down my breathing.)
Evaluate – What is the problem? Who’s problem is it? Do I need to solve it? What are the options? This step gets me to step back from knee jerk automatic reactions. If I am being attacked this step best be very quick but most stress sources I have time to evaluate. I notice one of the tactics of abusers is attempting to force a quick reaction without this evaluation step.
Plan – I separate evaluating and planning. Evaluating is observing and defining the situation whereas creating a plan is mapping out what to do after the problem is defined. If at the evaluation step, I realize it is not my problem to solve then there is no need to get to this step.
Move – I prefer the word move over act because acting can imply pretending like an actor in a movie. Move may be a baby step….falling flat on my face is also moving. Too often I make these huge overwhelming plans and telling myself to move implies I don’t have to do an entire marathon, just get off the starting line.