Stop the World!!                                                                                                                              ~ Lessons from when the Universe hits the Pause button ~

Currently, I, you, and the world are in one of those Stop the World moments, literally!  The Universe has stopped the world dead in its tracks and put all our lives on pause.

It reminds me of a Broadway musical from a long time ago, “Stop the World: I Want to Get Off” that featured a somewhat pathetic character, Littlechap. It follows his life from birth to death in vignettes. Each of these segments ends with a significantly painful or traumatic event in his life and is punctuated with his yelling out, “Stop the World!” and then he walks to the front of the stage and talks to the audience about the event and introduces the next phase of his life that he is pivoting into.

It was a huge success due to its wonderfully poignantly funny script, great acting, and memorable lyrics, still sung today including, “What Kind of Fool Am I.” I believe, though, that it also struck a chord with most of its audience because it reminded them of the many segments of their lives and the times when they would have loved to shout out, “Stop the World!” and take a pause to reflect, regroup,  and figure out the next course of action. I know that is what I remember every time I hit a juncture in my life.

Sometimes those moments have come due to my doings or the doings of those around me, like a business that goes out of business. At other times it is caused by things totally unexpected, out of my control and unappealable, such as a near-catastrophic auto crash I sustained about a year ago that totaled my van, which after the van stopped spinning 180 degrees and doing a 360 degrees side roll, landing back on its wheels, I was able to shut off the ignition, undo the seatbelt and walk out of. Deprived of my means of transportation and somewhat disabled by hip and joint trauma, I had a Stop the World moment, which allowed me to reflect on my life, both personal and business, as it was just prior to the accident, evaluate the merits of continuing where I left off or choosing to pursue a new course. I chose the latter and returned to my passionate, first love. I restarted my private counseling practice from which I had digressed in favor of chasing what turned out to be a dead-end non-opportunity.

I have been noticing that there are three different ways people are dealing with this virus caused pause. The first two are very unproductive and potentially tragic. They either sit and do nothing, depress themselves and vegetate or more tragically, they become full of fear and panic over things they most likely could prevent by following the safety guidelines.

The third way of dealing with these current crises involves looking at it as a gift of a mandatory time out given by the Universe. It is a rare opportunity to take stock and review our lives as we were living them prior to this pause, and to evaluate the merits of continuing as is or making some mid-course corrections.  Then we have the rarer luxury of being able to, uninterruptedly plan and gear up for the next episode of life.

So here are your choices. You can sit there and grumble, moan, and groan about what a raw deal you have been dealt, not being able to work, to go to your meetings, having to semi-isolate, and the like OR you can engage in high drama and go into a panic about how you are going to die even after you have self-isolated for the 14 days OR you can become generatively proactive and use this time to gear up for your amazing future.

When faced with setbacks and what normally are perceived as doom and gloom events, I have trained myself to first, take a couple of nice deep breathes, slowly exhaling each of them to get in a relaxed, unstressed state, and then ask two critical questions that get me on and keep me on track:

The first one is, “OK, now what?”  The tone and delivery of this question is one of genuine curious inquiry. (The other way of asking this is the totally unproductive, self-victimizing, “OK, now fu*kin’ what!!!!) Asking this in a curious way puts me in creative planning mode with usually great results.

The second question once I have finished the above creative process is, “Now where was I?” which puts me back to the reality of the current footwork that I was engaged in, just before I digressed into future thinking. That one-two punch is my secret sauce for exquisitely walking thru all adversity, misdirection and temporary dead ends and then quickly getting back on track.

So what are you going to do to capitalize on this enforced study hall in which you find yourself?

©2020, Jason Wittman, MPS, CATC-IV, ILAADC

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*About The Author*

Jason Wittman received both his B.S. degree in business management and his Master of Professional Studies in Counseling Psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a Certified, Level IV, Addictions Counselor), a Licensed Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor, and an Internationally Certified Clinical Supervisor. He is also a Certified Hypnotherapist and a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Jason is in private practice as a Counselor and Coach for over 35 years. He coaches and counsels business and professional clients, who are recovering from alcoholism and addictions to, work and live at their exquisite best.His specialties include enhancing self-esteem/love, increasing self-confidence, and building successful relationships.

He can be contacted at, or 213-804-4408