Power Pausing

When asked a question, I want to give an answer. When asked a favor, I want to grant it. It’s who I am. But a lot of times it is not who I want to be. I’m beginning to realize that my knee jerk reactions is connected to my past, to my history or even to the trauma of living. I’ve found that it can be a problem when you always provide an answer when asked a question.

Almost always when asked a question I will give an answer.. Sometimes it’s really just my opinion or even what I think might be the answer. Sometimes it’s even what I think the asker wants to hear. That’s wrong, I know. But we’re back to my dislike of confrontation.

Recently Doug was asking me how recording live sports programs on the Dish Hopper worked. I told him how I thought it worked. But he became frustrated when I couldn’t back up my answer up with facts. After a short argument over the mechanics of recording a live sports program, I finally said “I really don’t know.”

That’s actually how I should have answered his question and really all questions that I have no experience with or knowledge of. A simple “I don’t know, but maybe………………” I think by always providing an answer I sometimes end up looking like a know-it-all. I know I come across to some as a woman who is completely sure of herself. But the fact is I am anything but that self-assured woman about town. In some ways, I’m still a child seeking parental approval.

I don’t think it’s unusual to want approval.  I find myself constantly seeking it in countless small ways. It’s really an inherent part of who I am at my core. But I find myself wondering where this need originated. Why do I find myself seeking out approval and acceptance from others. When it doesn’t come, I feel annoyed or dissatisfied with myself. That’s when the darkness starts to slip in.

Not long ago I received a phone call and was told “I need you to do this in order for me to do that.” Of course, my first reaction was “I’ll do whatever you need in order to make this easier for you” And that is exactly what I did.

In hindsight, that was a mistake on my part that is attached to my need for approval or the desire to not “disappoint” someone. I should have taken a moment and just agreed to look at their request. It’s always ok to say “Let me think about it.” or “Let me look at what you’ve got.” Instead, I did what was asked of me and then a couple of days later I became angry.

But, after some thinking, I was able to take a step back and realize that my anger was with myself, and not at the other person. Once again, I should have asked more questions. Honestly, if I had given myself some time, I wouldn’t have agreed to the request and that’s where the anger came from. Not from the request, but from my response.

I can’t blame someone for my anger if I haven’t explained to them that I need time to think about their request. Maybe they would be disappointed in me if I responded with ‘I don’t think I can do that.” But if that is what the answer needs to be, then that’s what my answer should be. The other person will just need to deal with it from their end. I must remember that their reactions and feelings are their own. Just as mine are my own.

Since this last request, I have made a promise to myself that I will no longer respond immediately. Instead, I need to always ask for time to think about it. Even if I really don’t need to think about it. I’m retraining my brain, so I need to start with the simple things. I need time to think things through and that’s ok. We are all different and look at problems, situations, and life differently. The authentic me, I think, should take time to ask myself the hard questions and if necessary ask them of others. . 

When it comes to requests, I’m learning to pause before I answer. However, it’s hard to undo a lifetime of acquiescence. My first impulse is “YES!! Whatever you need or want I am here to help you!!!” Perhaps it’s because I crave approval and acceptance. I want to be part of the club. I want to be your friend.

Pausing also serves an additional benefit. When someone has asked for a favor, did you know if you will pause for a couple of seconds after they finish speaking, you may find that the requester will continue to speak. Sometimes they will give you additional information, perhaps providing more information to you to make a better decision. Another benefit is that by remaining silent, pausing, you let the other person know that you are considering what they just requested of you. Pausing also allows your brain to fully process the request. The more time you take to consider the request, the more you will become aware of either the benefits or drawbacks of granting the request.

Do you still seek approval when you really don’t need to? Do you agree to things that you later regret? Would it have been helpful if you had taken some time to think about it?

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About Anna Hibbard

I am a "mature" woman, with a lifetime of opinions and memories. Sometimes they pop into my mind on my hour commute either to or from work. So I use this blog as a way to express myself, my opinions, and my memories.