Sometimes, I just need to stop.
Sometimes, I need to let it go.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to take a break.
This has shown up a lot for me lately, particularly when talking with close family members – people I’ve grown up with and have known my entire life.
Yes, those family dynamics can be wonderful – and tricky, right? :-)
These are the people who know you best, love you the most, and somehow also push exactly the right buttons to drive you over the edge.
Ok, to be fair, I allow myself to be driven over the edge. Looks like I need a bit more patience in those moments.
My default mode is that I want to figure it out. I don’t want to leave until I know exactly what’s going on, where things went amiss, and everyone understands (or more precisely, I feel like I’ve been understood).
This can show up when I’m working, too. I’ll be so engaged in a project that I’ll start ignoring hunger signs – eating can wait!! Perhaps something is confusing me, or not working as it’s supposed to, or I’m on a deadline, and I feel I just can’t stop until I figure it out!
Guess what? I need to take a break.
It’s not just that I could, or I ought to, or I should – I NEED to!
It’s just not healthy for me to keep forging ahead.
Not only will I give my body and brain a rest, I’ll most likely also gain focus, clarity, and perhaps the solution that has, until that moment, eluded me!
When it comes to discussions, no one likes to be misunderstood or felt like they’re not being heard, and at the same time, I’ve discovered that there comes a time when you can’t go any further, you can’t make any headway: a break is the only solution!
Here’s a recent example…
I was at my uncle’s house, and had helped him setup a wireless router. He has this funky power strip that has “master” plugs on it; that is, one item controls a series of other plugs – if it’s on, the others will be, if it’s off, nothing will be.
At first I wasn’t sure why that would be helpful, but I guess if you have a number of items connected to your computer, it may come in handy to turn them off all at once when you power down.
Well, it turns out that in my work, I had disconnected a plug, and though I had replugged it in, the computer wouldn’t turn on. I guess there is some kind of auto-shut-off gizmo (technical term), and the whole strip needed to be restarted.
In my attempt to explain what happened, so that if it ever happened again and I wasn’t there he’d be covered, frustration began to mount. If there’s one place where I’m definitely out of my element, it’s the inner workings of machines!
So there I was, with limited knowledge and understanding, hoping to explain this, and it just wasn’t clear. My uncle wasn’t getting it.
I kept saying things easily and slowly, thinking that maybe I was going to fast (I often do), or leaving something out.
We finally reached a point where he summarized what he thought I had been saying, and it was clear. He even joked, “why didn’t you say that in the first place?” ;-)
What was the issue? Neither of us can read minds.
There may be very specific words someone else needs to hear to clearly understand the situation, and no matter how direct you’re being, if you don’t hit on those words, you’ll just keep running into that same wall of miscommunication.
It’s understanding that the process can be messy.
In this case, the “process” is reaching an understanding. Sometimes, it happens instantaneously: both people just “get” it! Yay!! :-)
Other times, it takes quite a bit of discussion, back and forth, different ways of approaching, and finally you reach words that make everything clear.
And guess what? Here’s what I recently learned: you probably have to go through the entire messy process to reach that clarity!
I’m so grateful that I’m able to remain so calm during these moments – I’m doing my part to not escalate the situation any further, and I’m keeping the majority of my emotions out of it. I have not always been this way.
I believe my meditation practice (600+ days and counting) is a big reason for this, as well as the decision to not flip out – I just don’t enjoy experiencing all the frustration/anger/resentment that goes along with it.
When I get into a discussion that escalates, my NEW PRACTICE is to catch myself: instead of thinking, “let’s keep this going – I know I can figure this out, or make the other person understand me,” I need to stop and say,” hey, let’s take a break.”
“Let’s take a moment, and come back to this later. We can regroup another time.”
Can you imagine how much more could be solved if everyone handled things like this?
Whether it’s the government, or at the office, or at home, how much better could we communicate, and how much MORE could we accomplish if we just recognized that we’ve reached a sticking point, and need a moment to clear our minds.
I remember hearing a speaker ask where our best ideas come from. The audience started throwing out answers like:
- In the shower
- In the car
- In bed
The point being – they usually don’t come when we’re staring at our work! :-)
We all need breaks, and we all probably need them more often.
Here’s a great tool you can use on your computer to remind you to take breaks: Flux. You set how often, and it’ll bring up a screen letting you know it’s time to chill out!
What would life be like if we were in “break” mode more of the time?
What if we were just taking it easy and recharging more often? This isn’t meant to suggest we begin shirking all responsibility, but rather, what if we didn’t spend so much time feeling like we need to get so many things done!
I know I’d enjoy this. Perhaps I’ll see ya in the break room… :-)
How about you? Are there times in your life where you see a break could be valuable?
I’d love to hear your answer + any other comments you have below.
In other news…
I’ll be heading south from Massachusetts, and I think my first stop will be either in Connecticut or New Jersey in mid-February – are you in these states or know someone who is? I’m looking for rooms/couches. I cook, I clean, I bring good vibes. I’m an international man of meditation. :-)
I just sent out my Monthly Newsletter last week, filled with a bunch of cool finds – check it out here!
I’m also developing a new project: a travel hacking service that cuts through all the details and research and gives YOU exactly what you need to start saving INSANE amounts of money. I think I’ve come up with a cool way to do it, and a very fun name – be on the lookout for that! :-)
And hey – if you made it all the way to the end of this article in one sitting, maybe right now is a great time for a break!!
Looking forward to learning more!