You wake up late, it's raining, it's dark and you've got a meeting today that you really don't want to go to. You visibly slump, you frown and drag yourself out of bed with the weight of the world holding you down.
At breakfast when you ask your son to hurry up, he seemingly ignores you, and then gives you that 'look' the one that screams contempt, that lacks the respect you feel you are owed... and your blood boils.
Both of these examples could be seen as "cause and effect" however in the principles of psychology they are actually "stimulus and response."
Something happens to you..... and then you react to it.
What if there was another way?
What many of us don't realise is that there is a "Gap" between the stimulus and the response where we are choosing how to react. You might previously have felt that this was a subconscious process, a space to infinitesimal for a conscious decision, right?
So who is responsible for the action or thought when we respond to a stimulus?
That's right. You have just completed step one. Realising and acknowledging that we can make a conscious decision if we can find a way to have enough awareness of what we are doing to take action in that space, that gap before our subconscious takes over.
It can be all too easy to wander around blaming events and other people for our mood or situation.
“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.” -Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, author Man's search for meaning
He suggests that we can grow and change and be different if we can learn to recognize, increase, and make use of this ‘space.’ With such awareness, we can find freedom from the dictates of both external and internal pressures. And with that, we can find inner happiness.
Find the Gap
Ask yourself these two questions.
Is this a situation over which I have control?
How would my best self react?
Personal change takes effort. It doesn't happen overnight. We have to keep chipping away. We have to be kind to ourselves. We have to notice and celebrate our progress as well as reflect on how we can improve.
Take a moment of reflection this evening:
There is always a choice, and often a situation can be avoidable.
Notice your reactions, spot those little signs of your emotion starting to take over control and at that point say "STOP. CHANGE. THIS IS NOT SERVING ME," and choose a different reaction.
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