From Irritation to Understanding: Harnessing the Pause-Notice-Choose Approach to Be Your Best Self

 In Better Life, Negative emotions, Relationships

I was in another room when I heard my husband yelling from the kitchen, asking why I hadn’t taken out the garbage. I instantly felt annoyed and responded in an irritated tone, saying that I didn’t know I was supposed to do it.

Naturally, my husband got irritated by my tone and gave a defensive retort, which only increased my annoyance. Eventually, I realized that I had misunderstood him. He had actually asked if he should take out the garbage!!

Has a misunderstanding ever caused you to get unnecessarily annoyed? Maybe it even led to an argument or hurt feelings?

Now, let’s consider another situation. You’re feeling stressed, trying to deal with a problem, but the other person is in a playful mood. They’re trying to be funny or silly. I can appreciate their mood if I’m also feeling lighthearted or relaxed, but there are times when it can frustrate me. The result? I end up responding with a less-than-nice tone.

I don’t like the person I become when I’m annoyed. I want to be patient, understanding, and easy-going. Can you relate?

One approach that has greatly helped me is to pause, notice, and choose. Does this sound familiar? I’ve talked about it a lot, but these are more examples where it can improve our lives and relationships.

Before I speak, I try to pause and notice. Has this situation triggered me? Am I feeling irritated or defensive? Now I realize that it’s my saboteurs speaking. With some effort, I refrain from blurting out the first words that come to mind. It’s not my true self speaking; it’s just my survival instinct.

Now I can choose. I can choose to approach this situation with curiosity. I can choose to stay calm. I can choose to assume the best intentions on their part.

I’m far from perfect, but I believe that practicing and improving this approach has profoundly helped me become a kinder person and show up as my best, most patient self more often. Give it a try!

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