The first step in helping others
When someone asks for your guidance, what’s your best first step? When someone makes an emotional comment that says more about themselves than they realize, what do they need most from you?
That’s basically what I asked all of you when I put forward a pre-marital counseling scenario from many years ago. And folks, I was truly humbled by the flood of responses you guys sent in over the last couple of days. Yesterday, I posted some of your fantastic replies, so many of which were better than I could think of back in that moment.
Now it’s my turn to reveal what I actually did back in that session, when one fiancé blurted out with a pointed finger, “We’ll be just fine AS LONG AS SHE NEVER CHANGES!”
So what did I do? I paused.
I sat there and simply breathed, without changing my countenance, or posture, or anything.
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise; I am the “ScreamFree” guy, after all. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to do in the midst of that stressful situation.
When someone puts us in a position to either help, or react, it is very easy to think about what they need to hear, or think about, or do differently. And in this pre-marital session, I was flooded with all those ideas about what HE needed.
But what this ScreamFree philosophy has been training me to do all these years is restrain all those initial instincts, and instead consider what I need to do first. And since I didn’t have some of your great suggestions, what I needed to do first was pause.
That way, I didn’t add an emotional reaction to his. That way, I didn’t overstep my role and start trying to change him (which is impossible). Finally, pausing in that way allowed the nervous future husband’s words to bounce around the room, echoing back to me, to himself, and perhaps most importantly, to his fiancé.
“Wow, Honey…what do you mean? What changes are you so afraid of?”
That’s when it got really good, and we all got to work.
And that’s just one of the possibilities when, despite feeling our emotional buttons pushed, we choose to press our own pause button first.
Peace begins with pause,