The Freedom to Choose a Response
A 7-Step Approach
As I write this newsletter, I sit in my yard noticing changes that fall brings. Although most trees have shed their leaves, the white-trunked river birch in the corner of our garden continues to carry most of its bright golden leaves. An avid gardener, I am aware that it is time to put the garden to bed in preparation for winter. With quiet, colder temperatures, and some rest the garden is likely to flourish when spring arrives.
For many of us, fall is a time when we become aware of transition; a space to think back about the adventures of summer and look ahead. Some of us jump quickly into the next venture. We may have a vision for what’s next and we’re ready to get started. For others, it may be sad to feel the loss of warm summer days. While some of us may not welcome the cooler season, we live with it, and let the flow of daily life carry us.
I am reminded of a quote by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, who was a Holocaust survivor. In his significant book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Frankl shared how he survived the brutality of the Holocaust by finding meaning in even the most difficult circumstances.
Frankl wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
These words continue to hold significance today. Within any circumstance is the freedom to make choices. Meaning can be derived through our attitude about life’s events and how we respond to them.
When something happens to us, we tend to tell ourselves a story about it. For example: “this is a good thing” or “this is a bad thing.” “I like this” or “this stinks”.
What stories do you tell yourself about circumstances in your life?
Between what happens – the stimulus – and our response, we have freedom. Freedom to pause, reflect, to make a choice about our attitude, and how we respond.
How can you create more space in which to choose the response that fits best for you and the circumstance in which you find yourself?
Here is a 7 Step Approach for Choosing a Response:
Step 1. Pause to Intentionally Create Space. Take a conscious breath or two.
Step 2. Identify the problem/situation.
Step 3. What are your goals for resolving it?
Step 4. Brainstorm ideas for solutions. It’s helpful to write the ideas down.
Step 5. Assess the ideas.
Step 6. Choose a response.
Step 7. Evaluate the outcomes, and make changes as needed.
Which path will you choose?
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
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In light and empowerment,
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