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The Space Between

P1000239Between 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

In reading an article recently this quote simply jumped off the page at me; yes, there is a space and yes, that space gives us an opportunity to choose our response and in that choice brings us the chance to do something differently. How does that translate to all of us leading our best, most productive lives yet? Well, if you think about it, we all have a huge data base of wisdom from our previous choices. With that data base comes the “what didn’t work so well last time.”

A question I often ask my clients is, “what makes this time different?” If in the past you have, for example, stuck your hand in the fire and it burned, what have you done or what conditions have changed to make this outcome unlike the others? If the answer is, “I’ll wear a fireproof glove” or “I’ll have a vat of water right next to me so my hand can be immediately cooled down” we have, at the very least, changed the possible outcome. Is it perhaps not a great idea to follow through with this? Sure but at least time you’ve changed the conditions under which this is happening. Even in the slowing down to think through our decision we have potentially changed the outcome.

One of the toughest challenges we all face is in allowing others to build their own data bases. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just learn from each other and then all that would happen is that we’re all making new and novel mis-steps? Sadly, it isn’t that simple, is it? Since we all believe we’re unique in some way or other, the challenge becomes in trying to see how other people’s wisdom applies to us. Learning from others is mighty handy and if you can allow yourself to identify with those around you who can teach so much, all the better. If on the other hand you’re someone who needs to make that mis-step on your own so that you truly feel you’ve added to your base of knowledge then let’s respect that. No need to make yourself into someone you’re not!

In thinking about your month ahead I’d ask you to think about what you’d like to do differently in the that space between stimulus and response. What one different response would get you closer to an answer or a greater understanding of yourself? Care to share it? I’d love to hear from you!

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