Pause and Listen: A Response to Troubled Times


Written By: Alana Karran

All of us are confronted with times in life that feel challenging. An unexpected crisis brings additional stress and strain toward navigating everyday life. Once the shock wears off, you may be searching for any action you can take to feel some sense of control over your new reality. And, there may be steps that are required immediately, just to stabilize the situation.

It is possible to get so caught up in the act of doing things to gain back some order and control that you may not stop to think about why you are doing them, or if they are necessary at all. Take a moment to catch up with yourself, pause and listen.

Certainly, pause and listen to the voice in your head that is having its reaction to the events around you; pause and listen to family and friends as they speak to their own fears, concerns and reactions; and, pause and listen to those who do not share your worldview.

In a production driven society that rewards us for rushing in with “fixes,” consider stepping outside the construct that defines what doesn’t work as the problem. That problem, that you so desperately want to fix, is saddled with a mental model that insists there is a “right” and a “wrong;” an “us” and a “them.” The right/wrong/us/them model projects a divide that labels differences as something to fear, defend against, eradicate.

From this perspective, the focus is on what we don’t want, don’t have, don’t need. It creates a cycle, driven by fear and anxiety. While a crisis is never wanted, it may provide an opportunity to pause and listen for what you do want, do have, do need. Take a moment to turn your thinking around and notice what emotions are driving you.

Use the following questions as a way to reflect on how you feel and how you might be willing to respond to your current situation from a different perspective:

  • How do you personally feel about this crisis?
  • What emotions need tending to right now?
  • What do you need to take care of yourself?
  • Who can you turn to for support in this time of need?
  • How will you ask for the help you need?
  • What do others need to feel safe and secure?
  • What are you willing to do, to help others impacted by this situation?
  • How might you practice gentleness with yourself and others?
  • What is the optimal outcome of this situation?
  • How might you align your action steps with that optimal outcome?
  • What are you willing to let go of, that no longer serves you?
  • How will you practice saying “No” to things that aren’t helpful?
  • How will you practice saying “Yes” to offers of help?
  • What is possible from here?


Most importantly, remember your feelings are real and valid. Allow yourself the space and time to feel your fear, grief, anger, anxiety, loss, frustration and despair. Pause and listen to your heart and soul and give them your attention. Let yourself know that you are showing up for yourself and will attend to your personal needs, even if others also need your attention.

Just the simple act of taking one extra-long deep breath and exhaling, will help you practice being present and noticing how you feel in the moment. Once you give this gift to yourself, it will be easier to also show up for others from a place of gentleness and responsiveness.