The Power of Choice: How to Stop Living a Reactive Life

the power of pause

“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

We make choices every second of every day. Sometimes we don’t even realize the choices we make. In those moments, we’ve gone on autopilot. We’ve tricked ourselves into believing we don’t even have a choice to make.

Yet Frankl drops a very important knowledge bomb that can take you to another level, if you’re ready for it. It’s a level where you’re in CONTROL; you have the POWER; you have the ability to control your destiny.

Say what now?

What he’s talking about is space that many of us think we don’t have. For most of us, we live in a state of constant reactivity:

  • your phone dings → you automatically grab it

  • a coworker gets under your skin → you lash back with a crude comment

  • your stomach grumbles → you grab the chips

  • you’re feeling upset → you scroll Instagram for hours

For most of us, that arrow is invisible. We don’t even see that there is actual space between a trigger and our response. That space has the power to completely change what happens after that arrow, if we recognize it and do something about it.

What if we created more space? What if we gave that moment the time and attention needed so we can point the arrow in the direction that best supports our values?

Those narratives above would sound a little like this:

  • Your phone dings → {space: pause, acknowledge it, ask yourself, do i need to get to it right now? If you don’t} → continue with what you’re doing and answer at a time when it feels right

    • Result: Sustained focus, tasks get completed, you feel accomplished. You can then dedicate 100% of your attention to that text when you’re ready

  • A coworker gets under your skin → {space: pause, acknowledge that they are making you feel some type of way, ask yourself: is it worth lashing out or can i say something else, or not say anything at all?} → you let go of those feelings and listen to them with your whole being and find out more than you possibly could have

    • Result: stronger relationship, you’re calm, you don’t get stressed, the day becomes automatically lighter and your neck isn’t in knots

  • Your stomach grumbles → {space: pause, acknowledge it’s making the noise and ask yourself why? And ask yourself what would nourish you?} → you can still grab the chips if you want but you’re doing it mindfully or you decide that an apple with peanut butter would calm the hunger and satisfy you far beyond what chips could ever do

    • Result: You’re proud you made a conscious choice, you don’t become sluggish or repeat that craving cycle because you’ve fueled your body with something nutritious; you can take on the rest of the day!

  • You’re feeling upset → {space: pause, acknowledge those feelings and ask yourself what’s causing it? Instead of trying to suppress those feelings or go down an emotional tornado, watch the feeling float away and think of something that would make you feel better} → You call a friend, write in your journal, drink water, take a walk

    • Result: You feel refreshed and can focus on nourishing your mind, body, and soul

What you’re doing here is conditioning your behavior. You’re telling your body and mind that when those triggers arise (which they always will) you have the ability to create space and determine the best outcome.

You condition your future self to associate a positive outcome with the trigger.

So, when your stomach grumbles, you have more intelligence into what foods would actually cure it as opposed to temporarily masking the hunger.

If you decide to not create space, you are conditioning your body to link the trigger with the response for future reference. So anytime your stomach grumbles, you think chips will cure it. Or anytime you feel upset, you think Instagram will make you feel better.

Which outcomes would you rather have?

If you want to point the arrow in a direction that supports a healthy life, know that it’s possible. If you need a champion to guide you towards creating healthy habits that last, let’s make it happen together! I offer 1:1 coaching programs that will get you on your way to making self-care nonnegotiable. Schedule your complimentary 15-minute discovery call today!

Kristianna George