It might not always seem like it, but we have news for you: no-one can MAKE us feel anything. Think about it…emotions are an internal affair. Whatever we are feeling at any given moment is happening exclusively inside ourselves. Take anger for example; There is a stimulus of some sort, our amygdala registers it, then coordinates the release of neurotransmitters and hormones which increase our blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in the feeling of ‘fire’ boiling up inside of us. It’s all happening internally! Even romantic love…what we really love are the neurotransmitters and hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) that are released when we think about or are in the presence of our lover. The love is happening inside each of us. Hence, we call it being ‘in’ love. The truth is, we can’t ever know precisely what another is truly experiencing. And even more so, we can’t ever be held responsible for those internal reactions and experiences occurring inside someone else. We each have a choice whether we allow ourselves to be affected by something or not.

It goes something like this:

  1. Stimulus;
  2. Interpretation;
  3. Brain’s physiological response.

As you can see, it all lies in the interpretation phase. The gap between the stimulus and the response. Psychologist and Holocaust Survivor, Victor Frankl, said it best: “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”. A lot of people might not even know that there is a gap at all. But there is! It’s length varies from person to person, but it exists. The good news is that it can be extended and learned to manage more effectively. By no means are we saying that it is easy! It involves lots of re-wiring which involves re-conditioning which involves re-training. But it is indeed possible. And it all starts with awareness. So this week, start with simply noticing the gap between stimulus and response. Just catch a glimpse of it. Even for a split second! And while you are at it, catch yourself blaming others for how you are feeling too (“you’re making me angry” is a common one). Good luck!