The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment: Micro-Skills — Slowing Down and Pausing

A stop sign or traffic light. A comma in a sentence. Intermission in a movie. A timeout in a game. Examples of slowing down and pausing abound in our lives. Yet, we often fail to do so. We fail to slow down and pause or stop and then deliberate and decide. Instead, impulse and instinct toss us about as if we exist on a life raft in the open ocean. The failure to slow down, pause, and act with thoughtfulness feeds many personal and social challenges. The absurd repetition of destructive behavior is evidence enough. The pause stands at the heart of freedom. As Rollo May (1975) said, “Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between stimulus and response, and in that pause, to choose….” (p. 100) E-H Therapy calls on several micro-skills to activate and cultivate presence toward illumination, understanding, and ultimately greater freedom. Slowing down and pausing are stalwart skills. Slowing down and pausing allow our clients to bring awareness to their experience and way of being, whether thought, feeling, or behavior. For example, we might say, “Maybe you could pause for a moment and get in touch with that feeling.” Or “Take a second and then tell me what is going on for you.” Slowing down and pausing are likewise critical to our therapeutic choice. The space created allows time to reflect on our experience, to consider what it means and thus what to do. It can be the difference between “acting out” and transformative intervention. Finally, slowing down and pausing open space between client and therapist. The space allows reflection on what is happening “here and now,” between. It consequently opens possibilities and opportunities for client and therapist. Links to Related Resources and Blog Posts: May, R. (1975). The courage to create. WW Norton & Company: New York-Buy From Powell’s Books | Buy From Thrift Books | Buy From Amazon Read the posts on Micro-Skills here on EHI’s blog. Read all the Existential Moment series posts on EHI’s blog..

Share this post

Related Posts:

The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment: Acknowledge Death

“…it is he who is dead and not I.” 

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy is a powerful exploration of mortality. Through the story of Ivan Ilyich, a successful and respected lawyer, Tolstoy portrays the tragedy of a life lived without acknowledging the certainty of one’s own death. Instead, as articulated in the quote, denial is a staunch ally in the process: others die, not me.

Read More »
The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment: On Dreamwork

Questions endure about the origin or meaning of dreams, from unconscious, repressed desires and archetypal symbols of the collective unconscious to modern theories about memory consolidation, emotional processing, and problem-solving. Regardless, dreams are one thing most surely: an opportunity. Take it!

Existential-Humanistic therapy draws its way of working with dreams from its humanistic heritage. Notably, it approaches dreamwork with the same emphasis on presence and experience as therapy. Furthermore, it avoids one-sized fits all dream interpretations.

Read More »
  • Search EHI

    Upcoming Events

    Get Updates

    Join our mailing list and get the latest in news and events.

    Blog Archives