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The Power of the Pause

The Power Of The Pause

by, Nikki Arthur, MA, LMFT

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom” – Viktor Frankl

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It communicates so simply the immeasurable power of pausing.  In our culture, pausing isn’t generally seen as a good thing.

Try stopping to pause in a busy train station or on a busy sidewalk.  Chances are you may get pushed aside, chided or even sworn at. Most of us aren’t taught the value of pausing, so it follows that we are not very good at it.  If anything, we are taught, “hurry up, don’t stop, you snooze you lose!”

When clients ask “what could possibly happen in a short pause?”  I let them know that it is a fair question and a question I get asked a lot.  I then respond by saying “life…life happens in the pause”.

Those seemingly small moments that go unnoticed because we are so focused on moving ahead.  Getting somewhere other than where we are now. So focused on getting to our next meeting that we miss the glorious warmth of sunshine outside after 3 days of rain.  Or maybe we miss the delicious aroma of our coffee, made by our spouse, as we rush off to work.

These are important and valuable moments that can have a dramatic impact not only on our day, but on our physiology.

In addition to “life”, I  would also say that “opportunity” occurs in a pause.  The opportunity to share a familiar smile with a mom trying to wrangle her kids out of Target. The opportunity to catch the pride on your child’s face as they share a prized piece of artwork. Those moments are beautiful and priceless. It’s all there, if we can pull out of auto-pilot long enough to notice. When clients ask “what could possibly happen in a short pause?”  I let them know that it is a fair question and a question I get asked a lot.  I then respond by saying “life…life happens in the pause.”

Pausing also means noticing the painful parts of life.


I think this is, perhaps, why we are so avoidant of it. It can hurt. Who wants to invite hurt into their lives unnecessarily?  Not me… The reality is, our freedom and our growth really do lie in those moments.

Especially the painful ones.

I personally believe that without feeling the depths of our pain, we can’t feel the full capacity of our joy.  When we are able to notice the pain of being human, and pause long enough to allow the feeling some space, we will be better equipped to make the best choice for us.

What often can happen is we avoid painful experiences in an effort to protect ourselves.  This is also human nature. If we decide to avoid giving space to the painful moments, it does not make them go away. In fact, to quote Carl Jung, “what we resist, persists.”


So what is a pause?  How do you do it?


A pause can be a few seconds, a few minutes, whatever you can make work in your life.  Simply, stop whatever it is that you are doing and intentionally notice what is happening inside your body, as well as in the environment around you.  Utilize your five senses. Perhaps you pause before getting out of bed, take a few deep breaths and set your intention for the day. You can also pause between bites of food.  Savor the moment and your lunch!

However you decide to practice pausing, know that you are giving yourself and those around you a gift.

The gift of a more grounded you!


If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or you just want to improve overall mental wellness, please check out Synergy eTherapy and how we can support you on your journey to wellness.

Nikki Arthur, synergy etherapy
Nikki Arthur, MA, LMFT


Nikki Arthur, MA, LMFT is a clinician with Synergy eTherapy and licensed to practice with those who reside in the states of MN and IA.

To schedule your FREE consultation with her, please click HERE.

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