One of the side effects of continued self-care, if you’re doing it right, is that you gain more self-awareness. This can be both good and bad. For instance, I reflected on a meltdown I had 15 years ago with one of my sons. At that time in my life, I was not self-assessing or self-regulating my emotions.
Here’s the story. We were returning in the car from a shopping day. He needed a pair of shoes for a job interview. I don’t remember what was said, but to this day I still remember how I felt after I imploded and saw his face. I regret that day.
It was a moment when a pause would have been a better choice than immediately reacting to something that was said. Fast forward to this past weekend, I apologized to him after all this time. I really wanted him to know how deeply that day pierced my motherly heart. What emotionally hurt me further was that he remembered this meltdown, too.
It was a time in my life when I was doing everything. I was BEING everything! I was superwoman, super wife, super daughter, super mom, and super pilot. At that time, I was perfectly able to handle my stress right up to the moment that I wasn’t. As a result, I blew up. My meltdown broke my son’s heart and hurt his spirit. To this day, I wonder if I had recognized my state of mind and taken a pause, would I have reacted the way I did?
It’s instances like these that led me to seek out ways to care for myself and alleviate my stress. Early in my quest to learn about self-care, I met a woman who was much wiser than I was at that time. She continually emphasized the importance of ‘The Gap,’ but I never understood what she meant.
One day, while I was in a group mediation, I was annoyed by a loud ceiling fan. It had a rattle sound that kept starting and stopping. The noise drove me crazy, and I found myself more and more distracted. At one point, it went silent. And in the absence of sound, I then realized, “Awww, that’s ‘The Gap!’”
Now, I realize how a pause can be a source of relief and spaciousness, but the key ingredient is recognizing that it’s there at all. The Gap represents a quiet pause in any given time. To recognize it requires self-awareness and practice.
Pauses can be incredibly valuable in your day-to-day life. When you’re immersed in a whirlwind of work, or you’re with the kids all day, and you simply cannot catch your breath. Give yourself a ‘Gap.’ Stop. Go to the window. Look up at the sky for a moment. Even if it truly is only a moment, the smallest pause can transform your day.
‘The Gap’ creates space between your busiest thoughts and hard-held emotions. Through a pause between these moments, you gain strength, perspective, and clarity. The moments that follow are far richer and more peaceful. It reminds me of something Truman Fisher, the great American composer, once said, “The pause is as important as the note.”
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