Ninety Seconds of Hesitation by Elaine Fraser 2


 In ninety seconds, you can tidy your desk, change your clothes, or audition for a role in a TV commercial or movie. In ninety seconds, you can put on your makeup, brush your teeth, or win an Olympic gold medal in the 200 metres. In ninety seconds, you can control your emotions and save yourself from a heap of trouble.

We’ve all done it.

We’ve all read an opinion on Facebook that made our blood boil.

We’ve all tapped out a reaction and allowed that blood to boil over onto the page.

We’ve all looked at someone’s response to our comment and our blood boils again.

We’ve all tapped out another response that rages and rampages and runs across the page.

We’ve all felt the anger bleed onto the page and through our body.

We’ve all had regret.

When it comes to opinions on Facebook there are some pretty polarising ones.

‘Love is love. Vote for same-sex marriage. If you vote no, take me off your friends list.’

‘If you’re worried about religious freedom, and freedom of speech, vote no.

Both of these statements are opinions–someone’s expression of thought.

When it comes to the angry responses in the comments, things can get angry, nasty, accusing, and downright violent.

People who are brave enough to express opinions at the extremes of the opinion spectrum, generally receive comments that are shouted across the internet and things get ugly.

Are the people at each end of the spectrum certain of their point of view? Most likely.

What about the people in the middle? The ones who don’t respond. Are they uncertain? Are they silent, in fear of retribution? Scared of being foolish?

Is there a space between the extremes of the opinion spectrum where people carefully consider and stand back from certainty in order to evaluate their position?

In the space between certainty and uncertainty can we have a rational conversation about things on the opinion spectrum?

We cling to certainty because it’s safe, comforting and controlled.

More thoughtful interaction in the middle of uncertainty might actually lead to more certainty–a considered, compassionate certainty.

We all need some certainty. We all need to know our values. We all need a foundation of beliefs. However, the space between uncertainty and certainty can be scary. It’s in this space , though that we find out what our foundations are. From our certainties, we can work in this space with more strength.

Can ninety seconds of hesitation make a difference?

Jill Bolte Taylor describes the effects of anger:

Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through my body and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over.

 This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.

If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.

Whatever end of the opinion spectrum or belief spectrum we find ourselves, what would happen if we hesitated for ninety seconds?

What would happen if we mindfully breathe for ninety seconds, walk away for ninety seconds, allow our emotions to dissipate in ninety seconds?

It’s okay to be uncertain. It’s okay to be in the space between. It’s okay to have certainty. They’re all a part of a good life. If everything was certain, it’d be pretty boring. But, it’s not okay to allow our emotions to have free reign.

Is ninety seconds of hesitation too much to ask?

Join me for the conversation,


profile shot by Laura Hurley Photography

About Elaine Fraser

Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write. In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs at Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, mentoring writers and hugging her golden retriever.

2 thoughts on “Ninety Seconds of Hesitation by Elaine Fraser

  • Joni

    90 seconds doesn’t sound long but in the moment, my gosh it’s a marathon! There’s so much value in pausing and reflecting before responding. I feel like so much of the public debate at the moment is based on reactions. People can be so cruel to each other. We forget that one of the beautiful things about our nation are our differences. One of the things I valued during the recent Yes/No hysteria were the honest, face to face conversations with friends where we weren’t aiming to convince each other of a certain belief but rather, to consider the smaller aspects, the untold stories, our methods of communication around the issue etc. And discuss them, disagreeing and agreeing, questioning and pondering. I so agree Elaine, the hot, fast, angry reply has never, and will never, be the best way.

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