Pressing ‘pause’

My youthful colleagues often refer wistfully to Bernard and his watch: I had no idea what they were talking about so looked Bernard up. Hero of a 1990s children’s TV series, Bernard was always late for everything until a postman gave him a magic pocket watch which could stop time. There were strings attached to this arrangement though – Bernard could only use the watch for good purposes, not for getting up to mischief! In each story, Bernard or a friend would use the ability to stop time to allow them to sort out a problem. Now I understand the appeal of Bernard and his watch!

Imagine how handy it would be – you’re in the midst of a high-profile meeting with your client and you see someone knock over their Venti Frappucino and a lake of cold coffee is headed towards the visuals you’ve proudly displayed on the boardroom table. Bernard’s watch stops time and you can return the cup to an upright position, catch the droplets mid-air and carefully move the artwork to the other end of the table. Time starts again. ‘That was close! I was sure that cup was going over!’ exclaims a colleague.

We may not have access to Bernard’s watch or to Hiro Nakamura’s superpowers but we do each have the power to press ‘pause’ in our daily lives. A client – let’s call her Sally* – was recently telling me about a very highly-charged situation in which she was involved. As she relived the moment, the details came tumbling out and Sally was starting to trip up over her own words. I was becoming confused and finding it hard to follow her story. Sally’s emotions were beginning to surface and so I suggested that we pressed ‘pause’ for a few moments. We sat quietly, had some water and regained a sense of calm before Sally indicated she was ready to continue.

At the end of the session, I asked her how it had felt to pause. ‘I needed it. I felt like a runaway train, getting faster and faster. I felt like I was back in the original situation and was just as emotional and stressed out as I had been at the time,’ she replied. ‘When we paused, I felt more able to distance myself from all that anxiety and look for a way to avoid the same thing happening again.’

Today’s pebble for you to consider:
How can pressing ‘pause’ help you this week?

What do you think?
Michelle

*As always, I change the names and details relating to my clients and have their permission to write about particular situations.

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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