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There are times in life when we are at a crossroads, a place of decision and all options may look good. What do you do? How do you access wisdom to make the correct choice? Do you call a trusted friend, read up on your options or worry about which way to go?

While all those may be habits from the past, I believe there is a resource most of us overlook: the pause. One of the most valuable skills we should have learned as children was to pay attention to the pause. As a child it could have been a useful safety measure when a “trusted adult” was making the move toward inappropriate behavior. If the child learned how to sense the pause which in this case would have been accompanied by the “ut-oh feeling”, the child may have had a chance to alert someone for help.

As a teen, the pause would have surfaced when a friend was leading them down an unhealthy path toward trouble. Recognizing that pause could have saved many of us from a lot of detentions and heart ache.

As adults, why are we not skilled in this? Have we lost our way to sense that quiet nudge? Perhaps the demands of life, the crazy schedules and constant pull toward media, technology and to do lists have gotten so loud we can no longer hear our own hearts!

Here are 3 steps to recognizing when there is a pause and how to pay attention to its meaning. 

Sometimes the very answers we need are within us, but we are too loud, too busy or too caught up in the commotion to even know they exist. The pause has been there, beckoning for our attention, trying to alert us in the most serious of circumstances. The pause tried to steer us away from bad business decisions and controlling relationships. The pause was there when deciding on schools, cars and careers.

Quiet the Body – When we feel we are on a roll, the hardest thing to do is to stop. If we are in a whirlwind of having to make lots of decisions, we will need to work on this step. Take 5 min and breathe! Take a big breath in on 4 counts, hold it for 2 counts and release the breath on 4 counts and repeat several times. Focus on your breathing – not on the decisions you need to make! This step alone will help to clear the chaos of the mind. This is all about giving yourself time to hear.

Listen without Rebuttal – This type of listening is done with the heart, not the ears. When you have a decision to make what are you feeling in your body? When we pause long enough, we can sense which way to go. Our mind wants to make check lists of Pros and Cons but when we access the consciousness within us, we can access direction without debate.

Take the First Step – If one option gives us pause, it could be the timing.  It may be that the choice itself is a poor one or the people involved are not the right people for this to prosper. We do not need to ask others if they feel the pause, we simply pause and go with another choice. Taking that first step toward the other option is important because at the same time we want to look and listen again. Be sure to hear with the heart and see if we have the clear ok to take another step. If not, there may be another reason to pause. There is no crime in staying in that place of pause to get clarity for the next step. 

We have become accustomed to jumping ahead to whatever is next that we miss cues along the way! Allowing ourselves time to breathe, listen and learn is a gift we give to ourselves but sadly do not open and use. There is always a reason and a cause to pay attention to the pause.