“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
Frankly, Mr. Frankl, I think on some primitive level we are hardwired for stimulus/response … or should I say – first stimulus then react? What we are not hardwired for, and therefore must actively cultivate … is stimulus, what happens, and then response, how we actively choose to be with what happens.
Responding is something that requires an inner poise, several moments perhaps of quieting the body and mind through deep, conscious breathing — a means of reorienting the self out of flight or fight and into a mindful, grounded, choice-filled presence.
I had a real, visceral experience of this recently, as we all have had at some point. Potentially life changing moments can feel initially very scary, they can trigger all sorts of responses on a physical and emotional level. I watched myself go through these reactions and then stop, very consciously breathe to allow enough space in to access that poise.
Pausing, breathing, acknowledging, allowing, add in some resistance, it may still come … allow this too.
It’s abhorrent. Pause, breathe, allow this, too. It shouldn’t be this way. This isn’t right. Pause, breathe deeply, allow this, too.
The space that Mr. Frankl speaks of is one that I find is nurtured over time with practice. Maybe then it will be the go-to place we are hardwired for but maybe not. What matters most? My opinion: only this moment that we are not at war with ourselves, life or anyone else.
The golden ticket, the key that unlocks the door, is in that space where I allow myself to pause long enough to choose how I can genuinely be with whatever arises. Genuine might be in that first knee jerk, primitive response, and that’s ok … but I am no longer fighting for my survival, as I did so many light years ago, today I can choose.
Today I stand for freedom, my freedom, and for my right to choose how I will meet this moment. My freedom, ironically lies in simply standing still, pausing, not believing or disbelieving in anything, all possibility and potential exist here, and I most importantly, cease to argue with life.