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  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

The Power of the Pause: Shaping Choices, Changing Habits

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.

Rory shares about the choice we have before

we give into a habit that's working against us


This time of the year, our school's mailroom transforms into a chocolate emporium as staff kindly share their love of baking with trays of white-chocolate coated pretzels, 7-layer magic bars, and individually wrapped homemade salted caramel.

I've struggled with stress eating most of my life, mindlessly snacking on sugary sweets to feel better about whatever I'm feeling insecure about or overwhelmed by in that moment. The problem is, the sense of peace is so fleeting. So, I'll have another. Then, another and another. In its wake, I'm left feeling weak, bloated, guilty, moody, and overall, so regretful. And even after walking away, I won't be able to stop thinking about the trays of dessert just sitting there in the office, waiting for me. It becomes a fixation.

Rory talks about the pause, the choice I have before I pick up that first chocolate-chip cookie that's calling my name from the counter. There are a million other things I could do in that moment: go for a short lap around the school, chat with a colleague for distraction, or something even more powerful--I could play the story out. Others can have one and then walk away. But not me. If I were to give into this need to eat, not because I'm hungry, but because I'm looking to momentarily feel better, where's that going to leave me? Nowhere good.

And Rory's right. We can sell ourselves on these habits that work against it. How many times have I reached for that piece of chocolate after a long day and thought, "I deserve this," or, "Ah, screw it... my diet's been terrible anyway; what's one more?" or, "I'll just eat this one..."

The power is in the pause... in that moment when I'm reaching into the tray: What are my reasons for wanting this? Will it do more harm than good? Do I have a plan to help limit myself?

Ultimately, what will I choose while it's still a choice?


For All of Us: What is a habit that's working against you? The next time you're tempted to give into that habit, try pausing. What else can you do in that moment that would be more productive? Maybe that's reading a book, going for a run, meeting up with friends, going to bed early... Or, you can play the story out. If you were to give in now, where will that leave you?

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