Ready, Aim, STOP!! Three Steps To Slowing Down Your Life

It saddens me to witness what a difficult time some people have stopping. Stopping their thoughts, stopping their words, stopping the constant race of some kind, any kind, of forward motion. It’s hard to have a good life when you simply can’t slow down.

So why is it so difficult to stop? Sometimes it has become a habit, one we are often not even aware we have. Sometimes, when we stop we become aware of a difficult feeling, thought or awareness we are trying to avoid. (Hence, the desire to continue moving!) Often it is a combination of the two.

Yet wonderful things can happen when we stop: intimacy, relaxation, clear thought, pleasure, peace. And also some of the richer, more complex and yes, even painful things happen when we stop. Our tears, our anger, our remorse. Difficult things, to be sure, but things that have the ability to teach us and change us in positive ways, if we let them.

Usually if we can develop the capacity to experience the difficult things that happen when we stop, we will also be rewarded with the pleasurable things in life that happen only when we’re still.

So how can we begin to cultivate the capacity to stop, to be still?

  1. Define your “Stop”. Your Stop may mean you stop speaking. It may mean taking one or two deep breaths. Or perhaps your Stop will be one minute of silent, seated breathing. (Five minutes for the ambitious!)
  2. Stop frequently. Four, five or six short “Stops” a day will have a bigger impact that one long Stop. Plus, you’re more likely to try something new if it is small and easy.
  3. Bootstrap your Stop. Tie your Stop to something you already do. E.g. – Put a Post It note on your bathroom mirror to remind you to Stop before you brush your teeth. Diary “Stop” in your Blackberry several times a day. Use your Google calendar to remind you to Stop.

Next: What to do when Stopping hurts!

About Karen Caffrey

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. I enjoy helping people become more fulfilled and resilient, so they can lead better lives.
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