Power of Pause: Sanity Secret from one Overwhelmed Mom to Another

Neuro-diversity has blessed our house twice

We have two exceptional kids that process the world differently.

We have observed this from their births, even conception.

They were both difficult to soothe, prone to overstimulation from what seemed like any interaction with others or new environments, sensitivities to light, sound, and in our cases extreme strong will.

As their mama, I have felt every nuisance of their overwhelm as they try to assimilate into a world that is often overstimulating or chaotic to process.

Being sensitive and empathic myself, I tend to experience the collage of my children’s emotions twice.

Once as their mom observing and discerning how to respond with their best interest in mind, and again as I literally feel what they feel in my own body.

Low frustration tolerance, moody, oppositional, unregulated, and impulsive behavior are a part of everyday life, and have been for the past 12 years.

I’ll admit this was not how I imagined parenting to be and it’s also quite obviously the perfect assignment for my growth as a person as well as their mom.

We have tried, failed and adjusted with every area of their care.

Let’s just say I am proactive when faced with any perceived challenge, especially when my kids are struggling.

My reaction is to “take charge”, find the professionals, get the answers, and FIX the suffering.

We have explored a wide spectrum of options to “help them”: play therapy, different educational options, alternative diets, psychiatry, and even medication when mood regulation hit a frightening peak with my oldest.

The act of constant “doing” therapy or seeking professional help felt like I was somehow in control of the situation.

By proactively staying in action it would feel easier, more manageable.

Several years in now, with some perspective I have learned that all the doing can be depleting for all of us.
Not to say there haven’t been times to seek to understand and for professional help.

It was more the issue of constantly seeking something, someone outside of myself and my house that had its limitations.

Not to discredit the amazing helpers and dedicated mental health professionals that have helped us get through really rough spots.

I’m so grateful there are people in the world to help us moms navigate difficult transitions.

But what has helped me the most is to learn and rely on simple strategies that can be done anywhere anytime.

Enter the Power of the Pause...

This may be the very best strategy I found for reclaiming calm and sanity in chaotic moments.

Those times when you are feeling hijacked by strong emotions and reaction comes spilling out all over the people you are trying to help most.

It is taught in ancient traditions and sometimes referred to a “sacred pause”.

If I could teach other mom’s ANYTHING it would be this.

It is most useful when we are spiraling or in “control” mode.

By consciously training ourselves to take 20-30 literal pauses before reacting, we disrupt the “doing” trance as Tara Brach calls it.

Tara’s method of teaching the pause is 3 simple steps:

  1. Be Intentional. Practice the pause throughout your day: before sending the email, after driving, before starting your work day, before bedtime. Ask yourself “What am I noticing right now”
  2. Take 3 full slow deep breaths
  3. Wake up your senses (notice what you are hearing, seeing, smelling, etc) 
Pause for even just 20-30 seconds before resuming life.

My personal strategy is very similar with the added benefit of using essential oils to anchor, ground and heighten the power of the pause.

Move the body to stretch neck, shoulders or a forward fold works particularly well to notify the relaxation response in the nervous system
  1. Close eyes, take an essential oil in the palm of your hands and cup over your nose (be careful of eyes). Suggested oil possibilities depending on the circumstances in the moment: Frankincense, Balance, Bergamot or Peace blend. 
  2. Take 3 deep belly breaths - allow the breath to facilitate natural rise and fall of the abdomen. 
  3. Set an intention that suits the moment: I am calm and patient with my children. 

When triggered by my children (yes, this TOTALLY happens and it is ok) my reaction is where all of my power lies.

I could and have at times chose to freak out, judge all of us, and react in BIG unfragmented ways to some of the situations we have navigated.

I have learned that when I feel helpless or scared it is very natural for me to automatically respond this way.

When hijacked by my primal instincts of fight or flight are provoked without notice that can spiral me and them.

I have become so passionate about helping mom’s feel more empowered in these “tight” spaces when on the verge of being triggered into anger, despair or sadness. 

It’s about normalizing this and that it happens for us all at times.

When we can pause and approach situations with even slightly more awareness and compassion we feel the powerful instead of helpless.

The best part? This valuable life skill anchors in and passes on to our kids - without us consciously teaching it.

We can do this for us and for them without an “expert”, without expending our resources.

Want to learn more about How to Relieve Mom & Kid Stress Naturally? Sign up for my free master class!