Deb Sofield


Practice the Pause

Share This!

Listen to Deb's Podcasts on


“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly, and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” ~ Lori Deschene

Oh, if I had only learned this earlier in my life, I would have saved myself from myself. I probably have too many stories to regale you with from all the times I spoke out when I should have practiced the pause, mentally and verbally. Even now, I catch myself chatting away when in reality my brain tells me I should just be quiet and let the conversation hum along without my “brilliant” comments.

What is it that makes so many of us burst forth with chattering opinions, snarky comments or silly statements? If we would just pause…we might save ourselves from ourselves.

This idea of the pause is going to be added to my list of good ideas that Deb needs to use, and if you are so inclined to add it to your list, be my guest, because we could learn a lot by taking a pause…a breath…a moment of quiet…and allow the moment to be what it will be without us trying to direct it to be what we want it to be.

Besides the idea that many of us do not like silence, I wonder what it is that makes so many people talk without restraint and without really thinking through the consequences. Maybe we have done it so many times that we think we’re immune to repercussions of our hurtful words until someone we love walks away or emotionally closes the door.

Maybe we think we don’t have to abide by the rules of social decorum because of our status in life until we’re left sitting alone while our friends go about their lives and golf games without us.

Or maybe we think we can get away with being a jerk until one day we realize that out of the 100 names in our phone we have no one to call when we have a need.

I am sure you can think of a number of people who should have practiced the pause before they lashed out at you, treated you with great disrespect or treated you like you didn’t matter. And although in your good heart you have overlooked their words, their actions and their attitude, it doesn’t make it any easier to forgive, and frankly, from some of the things I have seen, forgiveness just isn’t an option for their spiteful words and actions. The only value is for the peace it would bring to your heart, mind and soul should you choose to overlook their unpleasantness.

Ah, the power of the pause might have saved the family member or friendship, but because of their self-absorption, they would not hold back their words because they absolutely do not value anyone but themselves.

Hard words for today, but I need to shake you into remembrance of the power of the pause to keep you on track for success in your life.

Let me quickly run through the list of wisdom pauses our quote has today. Without a doubt, we would do well to learn and practice the pause before we make a judgment, an assumption or an accusation. Those three allegations are perhaps the most damaging to any relationship.

Practicing the pause before we judge others. Without a doubt, we all bring judgment to the table of life. This judgment is born of our experiences, and keeping them in check to see if they are real or imagined is a challenge we should all aspire to. You might have heard the adage, “Judge not lest you be judged.” That puts it in perspective when it comes to making judgments against others. Consider how you would feel if the tables were turned and you were judged unjustly.

Practicing the pause before we assume anything with regard to others, would protect us from making unfounded rumors or comments about people we really don’t know…or don’t know anymore. And I add the don’t know anymore because there is a great possibility that time and maturity caught up with our friends and family and they are not the people they used to be. So before you peg them with the mistakes of their youth, give them the benefit of the assumed doubt, and you might be pleasantly surprised. And if you’re not, well, then you’re safe in your assumption that you need to stay away from them.

In my mind, probably the greatest need to practice the pause is before accusing. Nothing will destroy a relationship faster than unfounded accusations. Repeating the lies of others does not make it true. It only makes it harder to forgive when the truth comes to light. When the lack of trust is verbalized, there is something about an accusation that shakes the very soul of the innocent to its foundation. Think carefully before you rush to judgment with accusations. The end response might be so damaging that the relationship will never be fully restored, and to think that it was caused by a question where fear turned into an accusation.

And finally, “Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly, and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”

There are not enough pages to list the lines of regret that many of us hold for words and actions that have caused lifelong damage, and back then, if we had only paused before we had spoken, things might be different today.

I do not live with regret for the past knowing, when to the best of my ability I have tried to make things right with the people or situations that I might have caused. And you know, through the past four years of reading this blog that I write, that I don’t believe for a minute that you have to live with regret. My only caveat is that you, too, must try to make things right, to the best of your ability, with the people or situations that you might have caused. How you go about doing that in the most honorable way is all that I encourage you to do so it can never be said that you didn’t try. Whether they accept your repayment, forgiveness or love, is up to them. But once you’ve done your part, you are done. I believe in forgiveness for others and myself, not because they deserve it, but because I do.

Like you, I want to live a life free of emotional weights that could drag us down and not allow us to do the work for which I believe we have been called. That being said, be mindful of the words that caution you to “…pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”

There is nothing in this world worth the price of the heart-aching pain that we cause friends and family when we, in our self-righteous surly nature, lose our cool or become unhinged or speak with venom over issues that in the end don’t really matter. The damage may be covered by a smile, but the depth of hurt will last a lifetime. And you must ask yourself, was the issue really worth the pain it caused? I doubt it.

The final line of the quote for today, “… you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” is the one that really bothers me for a few reasons, one being the unfortunate fact that we all know people who, because of their puffed up pride, will never regret the damage they have done by their words and actions. They savor the fact that they “were right,” whatever that means. To live in such a false universe is chilling when you think about it. It is what causes normally decent people to abandon their humanity, and rant and rave with viciousness over issues and ideas they know little to nothing about and, in most cases, have no control over (And I’m not just talking politics here. That is a whole other issue that I am not going to waste my time on).

Where did civility go? Where did caring for your neighbor or treating others as you would like to be treated go? And why is no one talking about the personal responsibility for the words and actions that cause such great pain and hurt to people you know and those you don’t, whether in person or online?

I cannot and will not believe that we are such a flawed generation that we cannot practice the pause to stop and think before we destroy others with our words and actions (and I don’t care if you think you are right or not). I do know this… that if we don’t turn back soon, one lonely day we will regret the person we’ve become because we were too unconcerned about others to practice the pause.

So today, before you walk out the door, think about these words before you end up alone and full of regret.

Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly, and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.

And yes, this is “Encouragement for Your Life,” because even though it is Tough Love Tuesday, I still love you, still want you to be your best, still want you to live your best life ever and that will only happen when you practice the pause.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

Leave a Reply


    Recently Added


    Featured On

    Share via
    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap