STRONGER TOGETHER: Identifying and taking the space we need to respond as our best self

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Last updated: 11/07/2022

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of space and how we can use it to ensure we are showing up as our best selves.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Space can mean many different things to different people and in different circumstances. It can be time, distance, and even astronomy. For our personal and everyday response to the world, we’re talking about time and distance.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya OShea IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl is credited with highlighting the “space” between stimulus and response.

“In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This space can be a split second, in which we immediately respond to a situation. This emotional and sometimes instinctual response can be helpful in some instances, but not all. Sometimes to show up as our best self we need a moment to process, reflect and respond appropriately rather than emotionally reacting.

Hindsight is undeniably a beautiful thing. But we can give ourselves the space to consider various possibilities and delay our response to consider the appropriate reaction to the stimulus.

Giving yourself this space can look like taking 5 minutes to gather your thoughts, practicing breathing exercises, sleeping on it, or even stepping away from what has triggered you to take a break or a holiday.

It is sometimes in taking a step back that we can see the bigger picture.

Knowing what the type of ‘space’ is most applicable to you will, in part, be determined by what stimulus is triggering you and whether you are comfortable with your typical response.

If it was laid out like a formula Stimulus x Space = Reaction, you would have to solve for all of them.

The first question to ask yourself is, ‘what isn’t serving me?’.

Is there an instance or a situation whereby your response doesn’t align with how you want to act or be?

It can take a lot of courage to honestly reflect on what is triggering you and why. Doing so in a safe space and with trusted people is crucial.

Be kind and honest with yourself, as this as Frankl says, is an exercise of growth.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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