Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist and Holocaust surviver is quoted as saying, “Between the stimulus and the response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
What I take from that is I get to choose whether I respond from a place of clarity and calm or react from an emotionally activated part of me – anger, hurt, frustration, disbelief. Now, Viktor didn’t know anything about multiplicity of mind – that we all have parts that have differing ideas and opinions about us, yet I think he would agree with it.
Here’s an example about response vs reaction: I’ve prepared a delicious Lemon Pesto Pasta dinner for a friend and she says, “Oh gosh, this is a lot of food that’s not on my diet!” Now, I can react and say, “Do you know how long this took to make? And why are you always dieting, it’s maddening!”
Or, I can pause, do a U-turn to my internal world to see why her statement got my triggered part riled up. I then am able to notice a part of me that is also feeling less confident about my own body. A part that is critical and said, “See, she gets it. I told you to make the salmon and salad instead.” Once I’ve noticed this, I can reassure that part of me that I really do get its feelings. I ask that it allow me to respond from the place inside that holds calmness vs this part of me. Then, to my friend, “I hear you, it’s hard when we’re not happy with our body and good food appears.” That invites us to have an informed dialogue about it without the emotional attack.
Viktor was onto something, that short pause, the delicate space between what initiated an emotion and how we answer back. Check in and see how this speaks to you.