Christian Living


Harness the Power of a Pause

CBN.com “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do,”
- The Apostle Paul, Romans 7:15

Have you ever sat down at your computer with the intention of accomplishing something important, then found yourself logging into your email and an hour later you are no closer to accomplishing your task? Maybe that’s what’s happening right now. :) Or maybe you’re a taskmaster on the computer, but when you walk into the kitchen, those fattening, but tasty cookies seem to be calling your name from the pantry. You are trying to eat healthier, but in those weak moments, the temptation feels too strong to resist and you ignore your inner voice of reason and head straight for the cookies.

This week, I feel led to share a simple habit that will empower you to overcome the temptation to do the things you say you don’t want to do.

You may think your need for a change is about willpower, but the real issue is mastering your ability to take control of your thoughts at the very moment when temptation feels strongest. It feels good to make the right choice, especially when instant gratification is staring you in the face. I call it “harnessing the power of a pause.” And there are many moments throughout your day when the power of a pause can transform the course of your day, and over time, the direction of your life. For it is what you do daily that creates the circumstances of your life. I will share five simple steps to harnessing the power of pause, but first, here are a few of the times when the power of a pause will make a difference:

- When you are about to get off track with getting somewhere on time.
When the phone rings and you are headed out the door, pause before you pick it up. Perhaps the best choice is to let it ring and get where you are going on time.

- When you are trying to focus on a project.
Ever noticed that when you get ready to do something important, all sorts of distractions pop up? Often, it’s just procrastination setting in. Refuse to get sidetracked. Pause, then refocus on the task at hand.

- When you are about to buy something on your credit card that you cannot pay off when the bill arrives.
Ooh, you just have to have it, right? Of course not! What about your goal to eliminate your debt, stop using your credit cards and save more money? Pause before you spend. Go home and sleep on it.

- When you are about to snap at someone who just pushed your buttons.
Refuse to let others push your buttons and get an automatic reaction out of you. There’s a difference between reacting and responding. A response requires time to consider the best words or actions for the situation. Sometimes you discover that some issues are just not worth the battle.

- When you are about to hit the snooze alarm when you were planning to work out / pray / get out the door on time.
Not that I’ve had any experience in this area :), but for those of you who feel tempted to hit snooze in the mornings, I have a suggestion: Pause only briefly! Pause so that you can intentionally remind yourself to swing those legs around and lift yourself out of bed and head straight for the thing you’ve deemed a priority (working out, meditation, eating breakfast before you leave home). It is in those first few seconds of consciousness that you can set the course of your entire day. Be intentional.

These are five steps to harnessing the power of a pause to make meaningful changes when you are tempted to let old habits rule.

1. Notice the temptation.
Be aware that the temptation is there, but do not allow it to take over. Expect it, then do something different – immediately. You may have to speak out loud to encourage yourself. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, so use your words to give life to your true goals.

2. Pause with a deep breath.
Breathing deeply can help you feel centered. When you are centered, you connect spiritually and tune in to what really matters to you. Use your breath to slow down so that you can be intentional about your choices.

3. Ask yourself, “What action would move me closer to my true goal right now?”
Once you’ve noticed the temptation and taken a deep breath, ask a question that will empower you to intentionally choose the best thing to do.

4. Ask for divine strength.
One of the reasons we get stuck repeating habits that do not serve us well is that we try to make changes in our own strength. There is a power within you that is stronger than any other. Invite the Holy Spirit to give you the strength you need in the moment to take the best action. It may seem like praying for the strength not to overeat or be late or surf the internet incessantly is a silly or insignificant thing to pray for. Always remember, God cares about the little things you struggle with because the little things ultimately affect the bigger picture of your life!

5. Repeat as often as is necessary.
Our days are made up of moments and there are plenty of moments in every day when we are tempted to do things that will take us off course. So repeat these four steps as often as you need to until the choices you want to make become habit. The more you resist the temptation and do something different, the more you build up the muscles to persevere on your path.

My challenge to you this week:
Pause when you feel tempted to do something that will take you off track. Ask for divine strength. Do the thing you really want to do, even though something else would be easier. The long-term reward will be worth it! Write these five steps on a sticky note or print them out and post them as reminder: (1) Notice the temptation, (2) Pause with a deep breath, (3) Ask, "What action would move me close to my true goal right now?, (4) Ask for divine strength, and (5) Repeat as often as necessary!

Journaling assignment:
What goes through your mind in the moment before you take an action that is contrary to what you really want to do? If you paused in that moment, what question would be most effective in prompting you to make a better choice?

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A sought-after life coach and speaker, Valorie Burton’s purpose is inspiring people to live more fulfilling, less stressful lives.  She is the author of Listen to Your Life, What’s Really Holding You Back? and Rich Minds, Rich Rewards

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