Taking Time to Pause

By Jackie Carrera, MSEd, Resident In Counseling in Northern Virginia 

We are in a time of uncertainty where some relationships have been strained due to a variety of stressors. For some it has been a time of thriving in being close to another, while for others it is a challenging time. We are always relating to others and making connections which is important for our well-being. We are connecting online to attend meetings, classes, worship services, virtual happy hours, and numerous other things, but we can disconnect from these when we want. What happens when we are not able to walk away or disconnect easily from another because we share a space? Tensions might start to arise, or words might be exchanged in anger.

My takeaway from Thich Nhat Hanh

Recently, I had some time to reflect on the book How to Fight by Thich Nhat Hanh. He offers some notes and suggestions for practices which can be used when relationships are under stress, for individuals experiencing distress, and when we feel anger. Early in the book he writes “when we feel anger, irritation, or indignation arising in us, we pause.” In pausing we give ourselves the time to breathe, stay in the moment, think about emotions, and work towards a place of calmness. Taking a pause before we react to anger, which can come to us in varying degrees, is one of the hardest things to do when emotions are heightened.

Take Time to Pause

Pausing when angry feelings surface is not instinctual, it takes practice and thought. It’s like putting a TV on pause while watching a loud action-packed movie which is becoming too overwhelming. Taking some time to breathe and make a cup of tea or engaging in another activity gives you that time to process some of those emotions. After a while you are able to re-engage with a calmer mind. There are many ways you can take a pause before responding to anger. You just have to find one that works for you.

About Jackie Carrera:

Jackie is a resident in counseling providing counseling services in the Alexandria location. Jackie earned
an M.S.Ed. from Old Dominion University in Mental Health Counseling and has training in art therapy. In addition to her counseling background, Jackie also has a degree in the arts with an MA in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jackie is a humanistic counselor who provides person-centered counseling in both English and Spanish. She is dedicated to providing a safe space for clients to explore experiences and to work towards positive changes guided by their desired outcomes. Jackie believes that compassion, collaborative dialogue, and trust are important in the therapeutic process. She has experience with cognitive behavioral therapy, strength based counseling, solution-focused counseling, the use of creative arts in counseling, and motivational interviewing. To learn more about Jackie, visit HERE.

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