“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 Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning” and concentration camp survivor.
I first came across that interesting quote in early college. I remembered as a child noticing a moment that happened in my mind before I lost my temper. That moment gave me the option of choosing not to act out on my temper. I still did and I still felt horribly stirred up. At times however, I could choose not to. I never understood people who acted out and said “I’m sorry I was so angry I couldn’t help myself”. I realized later that sometimes that was an excuse and that sometimes it was sort of true. Peoples mental reflexes happened so fast that they didn’t have a moment of choice.
Later in college when some professors introduced me to meditation I had some experiences related to this quote. I found myself in some situations that in the past would have gotten me very upset, but did not. This was different from my experience as a child being self aware enough to clamp down on my acting out while *FEELING* rage. In these experiences, I felt calm, in a moment that was a pause before my emotions started.
I went ahead and got upset anyway. Then and several more times over the years when I had that experience.
I later read that most people will stay with bad patterns because the mind craves security and being in a new situation, even one that is known to be better is insecure. There is no frame of reference for it, no mental maps, so the mind chooses the old pattern.
That and sometimes people can’t see themselves in their beliefs and their old patterns. Invisible prison bars.
I’ve been seeing a type of interpersonal experience coming that I knew would make me very upset. I decided to fight the urge to avoid it and face it head on. I told myself if it happens and I get upset, so be it, I wasn’t going to run from it, that is not healthy. I was expecting to get upset.
Instead I had one of those moments again. I found myself in a calm before any of my emotions took off. I felt the pull of the options of different emotions that could have taken me in different directions. This time around I knew to expect the fear and disorientation from choosing to feel out of pattern.
I stepped out of my old pattern. It felt disorientating. A bit frightful. I could hear my superego talking to me, telling me I would get smacked down or that something bad would happen to me by acting off-pattern. I told myself that wasn’t true and that I didn’t have to listen to those things.
I kept repeating that to myself and other positive, but realistic alternative interpretations of that experience. I went to the gym and worked off the nervous energy of the feelings of disorientation and of the negative emotions that got ready to launch, but didn’t.
I’ve seen many people on online dating sites who have in so many words stated that traveling is the essence of an interesting and fulfilling life. I agree that traveling really expands one’s personal world, but this experience today……wow! This is also the stuff that makes life interesting. What an extraordinary experience to see through your personal invisible beliefs when before you thought it was THE world and then to step out of it into a new way of being. If anything is freedom, it is that experience and feeling. It felt like traveling to a new country in a way.
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