Many of us, possibly most of us, find it challenging not to react immediately to various triggers without anger, irritation, or defensiveness. Rather than take the time to contemplate and reflect, we react much like Pavlov’s conditioned dogs. And thus we go through life, repeating the same script over and over, with little awareness that we have the choice to respond differently.
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor (best known for his best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning) spoke to this free will that we so easily give away: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response, lie our growth and our freedom.”
When we take the time between trigger and response to reflect and to contemplate our next step, we are empowered. When we take the time to consider why something has triggered us and to try out alternative reactions to the ones to which we are accustomed, we take greater responsibility for our own behavior and discover our capacity for change.