The Pause: Delayed Responses Are Thoughtful Responses

I have never been a quick witted individual. My timing is always off and usually I think of something clever or a rebuttal long after the fact. A flawed trait that I loathed about myself.

Although I still get angry when words escape me, I no longer think of my delayed responses as a weakness.

My own ability to observe and listen has been a lifelong skill acquired mainly because of my introverted nature. I followed a tradition of speak when spoken to until I began to implode. Raising my voice and storming about as a teenager in my own home was my modus operandi. Plenty of obnoxious vocalization and very little listening was happening in that stage of my life.

Breathing and taking a pause was not on my agenda.

Being Patience with the Pause

In public is where I held my tongue, mainly because I was too scared and insecure to do otherwise. But I have discovered that holding back allowed my observation and listening skills to be honed.

I now know that if exercising my voice does not move the situation needle in a useful direction, I keep my mouth shut. Trial and error has taught me to always read the room. I still screw up on occasion, but if I allow patience into the picture, it will help me to seek the opportune time to speak.

I find that when responding too quickly to a text, email or comment, regret is always the result. Because in my abruptness, something significant or nuanced passes through my brain unnoticed or denied. I think this is true for anything we do too quickly and without careful contemplation. Rash rapid fire responses are too often the norm because everyone wants to be heard. The ego takes over.

The result: we fail to listen.

I prefer to stay under the radar especially if what I have to say will diminish someone or what they have said. Keeping quiet, pausing and listening intently.

Mind you, I don’t always listen. It continues to be a tough behavior to unravel and reshape. But when I do consciously pause and listen, the connection is stronger and my ability to absorb those other voices is so much more satisfying.

Lessons on Listening

I learned some real intense lessons in listening during the time when my daughter was working through her addiction and recovery. Naively believing I had so much advice to give based on my age, knowledge and experience.

Which is embarrassing and laughable now. I clearly did not have the background needed to help anyone dealing with substance use.

My so called parental wisdom had nothing to do with what she needed or wanted. It was not my call. Spewing a bunch of you should’s and you could’s was not going to provide any incentive. In fact, that is the last thing any addict wants to hear. They carry enough shame and quilt for a thousand people.

So I listened, a lot. Not an easy road to take when what you hear runs the gamut of gibberish, fantasy, self-loathing, lies, begging and crying out for help. When they are under the influence there is no reasoning or rationale taking place.

And on the flip side when in recovery, its anger, frustration and depression as reality sets in and the guilt takes over. A no win situation all around.

I continued on my path of listening and responding with as much honesty as I could muster. Even as my own hidden thoughts went down some deep and dark holes as I considered escaping from it all.

As I listened, her true thoughts and feelings came to the surface. This led to a better understanding of who she was and how she saw herself. Slowly she gained back her self respect. And my respect for her deepened.

“Noise creates illusions. Silence brings truth.” Maxime Lagacé

The beauty of being silent, pausing and listening with intent is the opportunity to experience ourselves and others more consciously. Giving credence to the importance of what is being conveyed through words or internal gut feelings. 

This is not rocket science. It is about setting aside our egos and hanging back for a change.

Keeping our mouths shut and taking the pause.

It seems so difficult especially for those who carry around preconceived or ill conceived notions of themselves and others. Carrying on as if they know it all. When in fact, knowing little. Everything and everyone changes every single day, every hour, every minute because of the environment in which we each inhabit.

There is much to gain by sitting quietly absorbing the insights of others, listening to ourselves, observing the sounds of nature. It becomes imperative to living a more full life and with compassion for humanity.

Michelle Lindblom Studio



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