The Space Between

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.                                          

Viktor E Frankl. Man’s Search For Meaning.

Understanding, and applying, this concept is key to transformation. The seed of the new you is ever present in that space and it patiently awaits you.

To borrow a phrase from Jon Kabbat- Zinn, many of us live like human doings rather than human beings. We are so busy doing and thinking that we miss the now.

Have you ever wondered what you ate 2 minutes after eating, or have you spent your shower planning what you will do tomorrow?

We even mistake our unconscious patterns of behavior as our life. For example, we receive feedback that is less than “perfect” and quickly spin into shoulds, musts, oughts, and we roll our eyes, sigh, and hang our heads. We may blame ourselves for never being good enough and/or blame someone else for always being too harsh. We may even commiserate with friends about it at length, which keeps the initial reaction alive and makes it more likely that it will be our future reaction to similar events.

We have now unconsciously created a stressful story, lived it for several hours, and then hitched it all to that event. Many of us will spend hours living with the aftermath of these reactions and then repeat these patterns because they have been strengthened through repetition.

The space that surrounds any stimulus is where new possibilities lie. If we attend to that space we can consciously leave old patterns that no longer serve us and then nurture new ones that do.

In our example, the space, may let you feel the emotion of frustration or shame, observe it as a thought or as a bodily sensation, and then chose not to make it our “story”. The space may give us enough distance from the event to notice that the feedback came from someone who reminded us of a parent when they were being too critical, and from this we realize that we need to work on letting that parental story go. The space may also help us see that the event was a well-timed reminder for us to practice patience with them and ourselves.


Intent – Set your intent in the morning to practice observing the space during your day.

Prompts – Put reminders in places that have a tendency to trigger old patterns. For example, by the mirror where you have a tendency to look harshly upon yourself. Or set a reminder that pops up on your computer because email triggers work fears for you.

Experience – When you notice yourself move out of balance (e.g., you get tense, your stomach turns, you have negative talk) simply observe that experience, and maybe label it. It is important to avoid the personal possessive pronouns (e.g., I’m tense, turns to simply “tense”).

Breath – Bring your attention back to your breath flowing in and out.

Cue Words – This could be something like “space” or “ah ha!”. This is a reminder to sit in the space for a moment and it has positivity for yourself attached to it- almost like a good job for having this opportunity to practice. I like, “Well, that’s interesting!”- it is innocuous, curious, and light hearted. It also came on its own one day while I was being in the space :O)

Gratitude – Be thankful for the opportunity to practice and for your efforts – avoid judging or rating yourself.

Open – Be open to what follows.

Try it, play with it, and experience growth and freedom!

Yours in empowerment – Emma & Alan

RSE Full Logo Webpage Biggest

One thought on “The Space Between

  1. Would love to hear if you applied this – what worked, what challenges did you have, what questions came up…?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.