Dying Daily #219: Stimulus and Response

Continuing:

“I understand now that we are not what we think, feel etc. And I am beginning to understand that our reality is filtered by such things. And it’s making me better understand forgiveness … but here’s where I’m at: is there a true reality if it’s always filtered? And where does responsibility come in … when we choose to act on feeling or thoughts in a situation?” 

Responsibility is a tough one.

Keep this quote in mind:

“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.”

Victor Frankl

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I’m a fan of responsibility.

I think that it helps us recognize our power in life, it helps us grow and it forces us to actively engage with our decisions.

It gets fuzzier when we dig down into why we do what we do though.

Yesterday we talked about how reality is always filtered through layer after layer of distorting experiences and beliefs, and this process certainly has an effect on the decisions we make, and so it has to be factored into responsibility. There are also times that we simply react to something, the space between the stimulus and our response is so small that we don’t really have a choice in the response.

It is hard for me to blame or assign responsibility to someone when they react in a way that is so quick that there is almost no conscious thought involved.

Now, I am really, really hard on myself when I react this way, but that’s a different story. If I am being fair to myself, I have to ask whether or not I had a choice in the reaction that came out of me.

Sometimes things happen so quickly it is hard to say that we made a decision at all.

Does this mean we don’t have responsibility for the things we do?

Since everything comes in through layers and layers of accumulated bullshit, are we just automatons wandering through life?

I don’t think so.

We have a responsibility to train our minds and expand that space between stimulus and response so that we can make our decisions with intentionality and rationality and compassion and grace and all the other things that make humans so cool.

We have a responsibility to enable ourselves to act out of our best selves as often as possible.

This is important.

This is why we should all learn to observe our own mind, to be aware of our emotions and what is going on in our body.  

We cannot take an action back once it is done, but we can prepare ourselves to do better next time.

And that is our responsibility.