“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Viktor E. Frankl)
As human beings, while we are animals, we have the ability to override our animal instincts and baser nature…simply by using our heart and mind. It’s an incredible gift, and one that some choose not to exercise.
For it is easier to blame our response to a situation on the situation itself. That takes away all of our responsibility and lays the blame at someone else’s feet. It’s much simpler that way, and helps us to feel better about what we did.
But a mature human being knows that we each have the power to choose how we will respond to any given stimulus. And Viktor Frankl, of all people, is worth listening to. Why? Because he isn’t just philosophizing about this concept — he lived it as a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp.
I imagine that most of us live lives that are much easier in comparison. And therefore, we have little in the way of valid excuses for why we are not able to implement this idea in our daily lives.
How might this work? Here’s an example: Someone insults me. I get to choose how to respond. I can respond immediately, without thought, and give back what I got. Or I can pause, take a breath, and consider how I’d like to respond.
If I’d like to maintain my peaceful inner state, I can recognize that the insult is an indicator of that person’s chaotic inner state, and is not reflective of me in any way. I can choose to respond in a calm and rational way, or I can choose to walk away and not respond at all. Either way, as long as I maintain my peaceful state, I have mastered myself. I have shown that no matter what the external situation is, I am capable of managing my internal environment.
And I have modeled for anyone who was watching the interaction that the space between stimulus and response is a most powerful space. For in that space lies my ability to be a pawn of the situation or to be a master of myself.
I encourage you to notice what happens in that space…just the act of noticing will create incredible shifts in your choices. Consider spending some time in the space between stimulus and response…