All of us have 'triggers' that set off our fear or anxiety and may lead to our reactivity - anger, defensiveness, withdrawal, compliance or resistance. We are especially triggered in our important relationships.
Take a moment right now to think about what, in your relationships, triggers you into your fear or anxiety.

Are you triggered by:
-Another's anger, annoyance, criticism, judgment or rejection?
-Another's withdrawal or resistance?
-Another's unhappiness, whining or complaining?
-A partner leaving on a trip?
-A partner coming home late and not calling?
-A partner looking at another attractive person?
-Another's lack of consideration?
-Another's messiness?
-Another's forgetfulness?
-Someone always being late?
-When you feel unseen or invisible to someone who is important to you?
-When you feel unjustly accused?
-(Add your own)

While you might not be aware of it, we all have at least a second to choose how we want to respond to the trigger - and most times more than a second. We often go on automatic pilot and unconsciously choose our standard protective behavior, but we have the choice to love ourselves by taking a second or two to breathe, tune in, and become conscious of this moment of choice. This is the sacred pause - the old "count to 10" before responding.

If you choose to take a breath and tune in, you are giving yourself a chance to respond as a loving adult rather than reacting from your wounded ego self. You have a chance to love yourself by bringing compassion to yourself; by choosing the intent to learn, or disengage from the situation. You have the chance to love yourself by speaking your truth if that is appropriate, and asking your higher self about the loving action toward yourself and the other in this situation. With practice, you can learn to do all of this in the time it takes to take a deep breath.
The challenge is remembering to love yourself by taking the sacred pause and remembering to tune in to yourself and your higher guidance. It is hard to remember to do this when your fight or flight reaction is triggered. However, when it is very important to you to love yourself, you will remember to respond as a loving adult rather than from your wounded self, and you will practice and practice until you remember more and more of the time.

When you forget, accept it rather than criticizing yourself. It is VERY hard to remember to consciously choose your response when your body is in the stress response of fight or flight. Each time you do remember, notice how wonderful you feel - regardless of what the other person is doing. Notice that your painful feelings come more from your reactivity than from the other person's behavior. Notice how free and empowered you feel when you respond as a loving adult, loving yourself rather than abandoning yourself in reaction to your fear and anxiety.

When you don't remember, take some time to go over the situation and decide how you wish you had responded. If, each time you forget to take the sacred pause, you decide how you wish you would have responded, and you practice it, you will find yourself responding as a loving adult more of the time.

It is very challenging to remember when you are tired, hungry, ill, or overly stressed from things other than the fear and anxiety that is being triggered. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself lots of leeway to mess up without any self-criticism. This is one of the greatest challenges you will ever face, so don't get discouraged when you keep forgetting. Just keep trying, congratulating yourself when you do remember, and rehearsing what you want to do next time. Slowly, with lots of practice, you will become conscious of the moment of choice – the sacred pause.

Author's Bio: 

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at for more articles and help. Phone and Skype Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!