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Pause Your Machinery: Giving Yourself Time Outs

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Stop and take a moment to “pause your machinery.” The concepts and techniques I present throughout my latest book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, require mindfulness to learn and master, and this brief written exercise will give you the opportunity to rest, step outside the pattern of passive reading, and bring yourself into the present moment to reflect and see how the information I want to share with you can be integrated into your own life.


Keep your written answers, because they will be valuable for you to review and refer to later. You may want to buy a notebook or open a computer file so that you can keep all of your responses together in one place.


    • Think mindfully about whether there are specific situations or issues that tend to make you activated. If so, list them.
    • Write a description of how you feel when these situations or issues come up. Upset? Anxious? Angry? Fearful? Does your default programming make you perceive these situations or issues as a threat? If so, describe how your mind perceives them as threats.
    • Write a description of how you act when you become activated in these circumstances and, without shaming or blaming yourself, how your actions affect other people who are with you at the time. Are there specific acts that you go into when you get activated? If so, describe them and describe the circumstances or issues that tend to trigger these acts.
    • Reflect mindfully about what experiences in your past may have embedded interpretations in your default programming to cause you to respond as you do when these situations or issues arise. Write a description of the past experiences and how they trigger you to become activated now.

    In your daily life, if you observe that you’re becoming activated, do your best to take a Time Out. Consider the adage think before you act. If you become activated, do your best to interrupt your machinery and, instead of staying on automatic pilot, focus your mind on the present, acknowledge your activated behavior, and take responsibility for it. If you see that you’ve acted in an inappropriate way that upset or hurt another person, apologize for it. If you remain activated and don’t take a Time Out, afterward reflect on what happened, learn from it, and, again, do your best to repair any upset that you may have caused with your inappropriate, activated behavior.

    Identifying how your default programming activates you in response to certain situations or issues is a crucial component of parenting yourself. It is the point in the process where you commit to making mindful choices in connection with these triggering situations and issues so that, more and more, you’ll make sensible choices in response to them instead of always being at their effect.




An excerpt from my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at Amazon.

  • 8 Jan, 2015
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 19 Tags

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