Space: Thinking

“Between stimulus and response is a space.
In that space is the freedom and power to choose.”

Steven Covey



Our thinking faculty works just fine in Lay Blame, in Justify, in Shame, in Obligation, and in Quit. We do a tremendous amount of thinking in these stages below Responsibility. In those states we spend a lot of time thinking about how to cope with the problem.

Right now in our society, we have a tremendous amount of anxiety around the pandemic, around the economy, around civil unrest, around police brutality, around political leaders.

We just have an amazing amount of stuff that we can use to drive ourselves bat crazy, full of anxiety and fear.

If you find yourself doing a lot of repetitive thinking that sounds like “What should I do, what’s the right answer?” or “What if, what if, what if” – that is probably thinking below the line.

The most powerful question that I’ve learned is “What do I want about this?”

In times of change, upheaval or anxiety it’s easy to get stuck thinking about what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to do what everyone else is doing, react in the ways they’re reacting.

It’s ok to start with acknowledging what a mess things are. But don’t stay there. Ask yourself what you want about it.

The question “What do I want” gets us into the mental state of ownership. The mental state of ownership is where we’re in touch with our own genius, values and identity.

If nothing else, personal responsibility is about thinking for ourselves.

That’s the first lesson that I teach leaders and coaches.

If we want to bring other people to personal responsibility – we want to support them in thinking for themselves rather than just doing as they’re told.

Here’s what you can do today.

When you find yourself getting sucked into anxiety, or anger, or stuck in one of those thought loops I mentioned – stop it. Don’t beat yourself up.

Ask “What do I want about this situation?” And then listen to yourself.

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