A Reflection on Pausing

By Sunitha Chandy Psy.D.


The weight and heaviness of 2021 was supposed to end. Why do I still feel exhausted?


The start of the New Year is supposed to be invigorating. It is supposed to be the burst of energy of big audacious new goals and the possibility of development and achievement. It’s supposed to be different. I’m not supposed to be tired right? The weight and heaviness of 2021 was supposed to end?


Part of the problem with everything in the paragraph above is all the supposed to’s - the assumptions and expectations we are trying to put on how things should be. “Be in the moment” used to be a statement we used to ground ourselves. Now it’s a statement we use to judge ourselves, to feel bad that we aren’t feeding our productivity drive, that we aren’t working harder to perform like we did before. Like we’re supposed to.


It was hard recognizing I started 2022 tired. It was hard being in the moment and realizing the beautiful new office our team had worked hard preparing was sitting empty because the Delta and Omicron variants kept us from bringing our teams back into the office. It was hard recognizing the toll of loss that had hit our team, clients and community from the pandemic and the waves of racial, economic and social injustices of the past year.


Being in the moment isn’t about transporting ourselves outside of our reality, but about accepting that carrying heavy things makes us tired. Remembering the meaning behind why we carry the things we carry is what keeps us going, but there is a step in between - It’s the pause.

It’s the moment on the journey when we take off our packs, roll our shoulders, sit down on a rock, stretch out our feet and take a much needed drink of water. The pause doesn’t solve the problem, it doesn’t erase the strain. It’s not even the thing that gets us to pick everything else back up again. Yet, without that pause, we don’t keep going.


If you find that you’re beating yourself up for feeling exhausted or that you should be able to do everything you used to be able to do, I invite you to take a moment and recognize what you’ve been carrying.

It’s going to hurt to take the load off for a moment. Your muscles are going to ache. It’s going to hurt to pick it back up too. Maybe it’s that way so that we are thoughtful to only carry the things that really matter. Maybe it’s that way so that we rely on one another and express gratitude and thankfulness for the fact that we don’t have to do it alone.


Maybe this is not a season for the push, but for the pause.

When we pause we give ourselves that much needed moment to connect. The first thing we might connect to is the exhaustion, the weariness, the pain. But wait for it. Just one moment longer. Let’s just pause here long enough to remember the what, the who, the why. The beauty in the thin stream of sunlight shining through the window. The smile on our sleeping baby’s face. The simple response our body has to a deep breath in and a deep breath out.


It’s only when we pause that we can grab onto the small things that still exist in the midst of the heaviness we are carrying. Connecting to the small things can lead us back to the values, hopes and beliefs that sustain us when we gear up to keep moving forward.

So right now, whatever you’re doing, take a pause. And as you see the emotions, the exhaustion, weariness and the weight of the journey that has become all too familiar give yourself a moment more. What else is there, waiting to connect with you too?