‘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 was a Holocaust survivor. He could have given up on life during and after his terrifying experiences in a concentration camp. However, this was not the case. Frankl picked up on something in his darkest hours that not only helped him survive and thrive through the atrocities he went through, but he also went on to aid millions of individuals all over the world.
Victor Frankl observed people’s behaviours while being tortured he also went a step further and studied their reactions. He argued that sometimes in life you don’t have a choice in certain situations you are faced with; however, the choice of how to react in any given situation is all yours and nobody can take it away from you. He found that between stimulus (the situation/event) and response (your reaction) there is a space people often don’t recognise hence are quick to react. Frankl believed that it is in this space that we should stand still. Not forever, but until we have given ourselves enough time to encode what is going on and then only after we have distanced ourselves from the stimulus allow ourselves to react in a way that will benefit ourselves and those around us. Therefore even though you can’t change the stimulus, you can modify the outcome in any given situation through your reaction.
Frankl learned this profound lesson the hard way, through unnecessary and brutal torture. However, his teachings can be implemented in our everyday lives. For instance, let’s imagine you had a habit of losing your temper now and then. The reason for your anger may be entirely justified; nonetheless, stop and question, are your reactions creating the outcomes you want? What if you played the game of life in a different way? What if you began to acknowledge you have a space which enables you to be in control? A time to think things through, to give yourself time to encode everything that is going on and then allow yourself to react.
Everybody’s life is an accumulation of habits. Implementing the, ‘between stimulus and response there is a space,’ notion is also a habit, a productive one! The more you train yourself to apply it the more you will recognise your abilities to control certain aspects of your life, and the power you have God willing to steer probable outcomes to places you never even imagined.
All you need to remember is to stop and take advantage of the space. Grab on to it, think things through, and then react in a way that will enhance growth and freedom.