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Viktor Frankl is remembered for these words “Between stimulus and response there is a space. And withing that space lies our choice and our freedom”.

As a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, he recognized that the Nazi’s could torture his body, but they could never control what he thought or what he felt.

He alone had the power to choose how he would use the space and how he would respond to their stimulus.

The way we tap into the opportunities created by this space in our lives is so often determined by our emotional intelligence (being smarter with our feelings).

To be more self-aware. Notice what we’re feeling and thinking. Slow down. Pause. Reflect. Reassess. Seek many perspectives. Reality check the stories we’re telling ourselves AND do something different in response.  

This last week, Dr Brené Brown made a courageous choice to use the space between stimulus and response differently in her own life.

In her words “the last 2 years…..”, and in her down to earth way, she turned the Viktor Frankl quote into an equation:

S (   ) R

This equation helped her recognize that she and her team at Brené Brown Research and Education Group (BBEARG) are tired and need to take a break, as their S and R are crashing in on each other. So she’s taking a 14 week summer break, and giving her team a 4 day week through that time.

When in life our S and R start blending, and the brackets are too close together, we may find ourselves spiraling into physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and burnout.

These brackets are a reminder of the Gift of Space, and how to creatively keep that space open in our lives. To make it a priority.

If you’re reading this, and triggered on reflection that your space is crowding in, here are some self-coaching questions to ask yourself:

  • What emotions am I feeling, really?
  • What messages are these emotions giving me?
  • How well am I navigating my emotions? Am I ignoring big feelings? Losing my temper more easily? Making decisions that just don’t sit well with my values?
  • What’s the quality of my sleep? How am I practicing self -care * breathwork and self-compassion?
  • When I do feel energized and refreshed in the morning, how long does my energy last?

A great analogy is a smart phone. When its memory is too full, you can charge it fully for 8 hours overnight, but the battery is flat again by 10 am! We humans are much the same!

Thank you Brené Brown for this equation.

I have it burned as an image in my mind with my Gift of Space being a trip to Italy and the UK for a few weeks for a wonderful reunion of special people in my life.

Cheers Alison

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