“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” Victor Frankl
At one time I never even knew there was a space. I moved seamlessly from stimulus to response with not even a hint that there might be another way. I was like some circus animal trained to react. If you did or said X then I did or said Y, no pause, no thought, no chance or hope for anything else.
I think most of us can be like this. It’s the way we learn, it’s how we survive, perhaps a psychologist would tell us it’s our nature, which is absolutely fine if we are happy and those we react to are also happy. If it works and no-one gets hurt and we can bumble along, then why not just react?
The problem comes when our responses are not appropriate, or they cause harm to ourselves or others. When we find we have done or said the thing, AGAIN, that we promised we would not do. The doughnut is half way down our gullet, we’ve wiped the floor with our partner, we’ve raged at the checkout person yet again. Or perhaps we have said yes when we really wanted to say NO, again we’ve let someone step all over us or we’ve cowed away in fear for the nth time.
When we find ourselves reacting in these ways that do not serve us well it is time to seek the space that Frankl talks of.
That space offers a moment, a pause, a place where we can choose.
Then we can act instead of react. We are no-longer at the mercy of what seems like an invisible force within. We are in our power, in the place where Frankl tells us “lies our growth and freedom.”
He also says that between stimulus and response, there IS A SPACE. This implies that it already exists.
If that is true then how do we find that space, where is it?
We could start with intention, described by the dictionary as “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.”
- plant your feet on the ground
- settle down
- take a breath
- take another breath or two or three
- quieten, soften, surrender to the stillness within
Determine to find that space between, where you get to choose, where you are free.
- say it out loud
- write it down
- tell someone
- let the Universe know this is what you want, then let go
- Let go and trust, the process has begun.
Do you notice that space?
Do you use that space to make a choice?
How have you found that space?