How To Take An Empowered Pause, empowered pause, how to stop reacting emotionally, reacting vs responding, responding vs reacting, how to control your emotions in the moment, how to stop reacting to triggers, stop reacting to triggers, emotional reactivity, Melissa Hull

Learn how to take an empowered pause – and you’ll never lose an argument again. It’s all win-wins from here. 


Warning: This is probably the one area I struggle with most. 

Today, I’m speaking to y’all from a place of humility and honesty, fully aware that I’m still growing. 

Why? When it comes to actually choosing to respond – instead of emotionally reacting – we all have work to do. 

But here’s the thing: I know what it takes. 

I’ve spent many years practicing. I’ve failed, and I’ve succeeded. And along the way, I realized something crucial.

If you want to stay grounded and in control, instead of surrendering it to your emotions, you have to cultivate the ability to take an empowered pause

What’s An Empowered Pause? 

An empowered pause is the intentional moment of space you create for yourself between a life event and your response to it. It’s that deep breath you take when you feel yourself getting emotionally charged. It’s a calm and clear request for space. It’s a beautifully communicated boundary.

It’s the time required for you to return to inner peace – before you choose how to respond. 

And let me be honest with you – it’s not easy. 

But there are mindsets we can learn and techniques we can practice to make it easier. 

Why It’s Easier Said Than Done

When we’re all wrapped up in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to choose an empowered pause – but the why is different for all of us. 

So it’s crucial to ask yourself the tough questions and answer with honesty. For example, what is it that makes you want to charge ahead, instead of taking space to reflect? 

For me, it comes from my natural desire for problem-solving.

I’m not the kind of person who’s afraid of tough conversations. In fact, I’ve developed an ability to deal with difficult and uncomfortable situations, and typically I find clarity and compromise on the other side of a tough conversation. 

But everyone’s tolerance for tough conversations is different. Even though I may have the ability to continue with a tough conversation in order to solve a problem, others might be ready for a pause. 

Many times I can recognize this with compassion and ease. 

But sometimes, when the relationship has history or significance, I will double-down on my efforts to solve the problem, once I’m triggered myself.

That’s why we call this a daily practice – not a daily perfection. It’s not something you do once, and it becomes automatic. 

You have to practice what you preach every day.  

How To Take An Empowered Pause

Here are a few of the common questions I hear when it comes to taking an empowered pause. 

Q: How do I know when it’s time for an empowered pause? 

A: You’ll know when it’s time to take an empowered pause because you can feel it. There’s a shift in the conversation that you can feel in your whole body, as emotion begins to surge. 

Maybe feeling it in your body isn’t really your thing. No problem. Instead, pay attention for one specific moment: 

If what you’re hearing someone say causes you to stop focusing on effective communication and win-win resolutions – and start focusing on the person’s attitudes and behaviors – then it’s best to disengage. 

Q: For how long should I take an empowered pause? 

A: In many cases, even 15 minutes of an intentional, reflective pause can make a world of difference. Depending on the intensity of the life event you’re facing, you may need 24 hours or even longer. 

Regardless of how long it takes you, here’s a good general rule: Step away for as long as it takes for both people to come together in the pursuit of a win-win resolution. If either one of you is playing for a win-lose or lose-lose outcome, then you’re not ready. 

Q: How do I choose to pause in the heat of the moment? 

A: This will be different for everyone. For some, a quiet moment and some deep breathing might provide the needed shift. For others, it might require some self-reflection and journaling. 

For me, it’s all about asking myself the right question to inspire a mindset shift. 

For example, I’m recently divorced, but my ex-husband and I still run a business together. We may not be romantic partners anymore, but we’re still business partners. We’re also partners in raising our children. And, sometimes, all of that can get messy. 

We recently disagreed over how we would approach something in our business, but that conversation eventually turned into old issues from our marriage that had nothing to do with the situation at hand. We had slipped into emotional territory. 

So I took a pause to ask myself some tough questions:

  • Did I have the right to be mad about how he handled things in our marriage? Yes.
  • Did I have the right to be upset about how he was navigating the divorce now? Yes. 
  • Did that affect our present conversation about business? No.
  • Was the emotion more important than the outcome, for me and my family? No.

Of course I wanted my feelings to be heard, honored and validated. But in order to get to the win-win, somebody had to go first. 

One of us had to see things from the other person’s side and initiate the compromise. And though I knew my point was valid, it wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I took an empowered pause, shifted my perspective and remembered something crucial: 

The emotional impact of a right decision was stronger than the emotional toll of a reactive decision. 

If I wanted to create the best outcome for me, my family, my business, my staff and even my ex-husband, then I needed to choose harmony. 

That’s how I take an empowered pause – and come back stronger. 

Q: What’s the purpose of an empowered pause? 

A: The purpose of an empowered pause is to reach a win-win outcome and continue to happen to your life – instead of allowing it to happen to you. 

That typically means you need to reach a compromise that works for both parties. This doesn’t mean you’re compromising on your boundaries, your worth or your emotional health. But it does mean you’re working together to create a better scenario for everyone involved. 

Consider why that might benefit you. What new outcomes could be possible? 

Simply by suggesting a compromise to my ex-husband, I de-escalated the situation, and we established a new dynamic that worked for both of us. 

I was able to identify the need for an empowered pause, ask myself the right reflective questions, shift my mindset and come back to the conversation with a sense of clarity. Most importantly, we were able to create an empowered outcome, too. 

And all of that was accomplished simply because I was willing to let go of being right in exchange for creating a right outcome.

That’s the ultimate win. 

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing I talk about that I don’t truly deal with in my own life. Sometimes, the only reason I can talk about it is because I’ve already struggled through it. 

That’s why, when it comes to empowered living, I know how pivotal that intentional pause can become. 

If this is a new practice for you, start small. Simply focus on taking a 60-second pause to really decide what outcome you want from this interaction. 

Even when you strike out, all you have to do is recommit. I promise you, I’m not hitting home runs every time, but I keep swinging. 

All you have to do is make the choice to keep practicing. 

I do – because I’ve witnessed the value in the win-win

Ready To Take Action?

I’ve been working on this practice for over 20 years, and I’ve learned quite a few tools, techniques and mindsets along the way. 

I share all my best strategies for navigating life’s toughest moments inside of my Iconic Woman membership community.

You can even find a video course on this exact topic, which includes everything you need for self-discovery and empowered action. 

Want to learn more? Subscribe to my list for updates on my latest courses.

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