Time-outs aren’t only an antidote for rambunctious kids, they’re for anxiety-ridden adults too.
In overwhelming situations, our brain does a freak dance—like the one in The Rocky Horror Picture Show—something without purpose, song or speech, just as one long unending screech. When that occurs, we are not solution-based, we are problem-based.
Our focus turns to getting the noise to stop and nothing else.
But stopping the noise is really just a reaction to a problem. It doesn’t solve a difficult situation that’s causing anxiety.
In the middle of the noise, it’s impossible to find possibilities when nothing seems possible and problems seem insurmountable.
Yet every problem has a solution.
When my son was dealing with a cross-country move, he hit one roadblock after another with moving companies. He grew frustrated and overwhelmed, tossing the phone down after encountering yet another impasse. Instead of talking we got quiet. In the silence it occurred to me that we had been obsessing about the problem from a problem standpoint.
I related it to him this way: “We’re solution-based people. Let’s do what we do best and come up with new ideas.”
Casting the moving companies aside, we brainstormed a workable solution which led to a better and more convenient plan which he implemented easily.
The silence after my son threw his phone bumble-stumbled me into a time-out. But time-outs can be orchestrated with conscious thinking. It take a bit of practice by injecting time-outs when things are good.
Scheduling a time-out when a Monday is hunky dory is the practice that helps us instigate them when we are hip-high in anxiety.
It proves that a solution for chaos exists.
This 10-minute video is of one of the most peaceful places on earth. It’s Lake Superior and nothing else. When watching it, set aside the worries of your day, the “To Do” list, and other aspects of life. Concentrate on the sound of the water and the waves lapping against the shore.
After 10 minutes with motioning water illuminating the whole point of everything, we are able to move our Rocky Horror Picture Show from problem-based to solution-based. There is always a solution. We’re smart people in complicated situations—and an answer exists.
Use the video below to help you practice deliberate time-outs. Use it for practice and to notice how to go silent in turbulent situations.
And when a freak dance consumes all the oxygen, pull out this new skill and go quiet. In the silence, allow the brilliance that exists in all of us to rise and assist.
Problems aren’t problems—they’re answers waiting to be born.
Author: Deb Lecos
Editors: Renee Picard; Caitlin Oriel