THE "HUMAN" SPACE BETWEEN STIMULUS AND RESPONSE
CHOOSING VERSUS REACTING



Are we helpless and hopeless, prisoners of our emotions and behaviors determined by some force within us?  Or can we totally change all of those with a systematic program where we are in control of the outcome?

Many people believe it to be a mystery and therefore unseeable and uncontrollable.  But their "belief" is unsupported by the actual evidence.

The answer is clear and unequivocal.
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THE BASIC ANIMAL MODEL

An animal does not have "higher brain thinking ability".  It is only instinctually reacting to a stimulus.  Its reaction is basically "programmed in", with the same reaction each time.

                            Stimulus                          →                     Reaction                  

It does basically the same reaction to the response each time.  It is "reactionary".  We can, however, by intention, reprogram an animal, such as with Pavlov's dogs' conditioned (learned) reflex.   Note that we humans, given that a part of our brain is primitive can also be conditioned or condition ourselves to have different reflexive reactions.  We'll return to this later.


THE BASIC HUMAN MODEL

A human being has a higher brain that is capable of noticing what is occurring and then using logic, facts, and reasoning can choose what to do after an occurrence.  Basically, we have the power of choice between the stimulus and the response.  Humans are capable of "intervening" in the process.  When we are choosing a response, we are being "responsible".  When we do not use our higher brain to choose a response we are being "reactive" - a term used for an automatic response with no "thinking" in between stimulus and response. 

                         Stimulus        →             Choice         →           Response
                                                           (Rethinking)

Stephen Covey (and others) call the unique human ability to choose a response "the freedom to choose" - it is what separates us and elevates us from the animals.  And that ability to "think" with our unique higher brain is what has us be the masters of the world.  After all, the animals have only a primitive brain, which we also have, but we have one extra developed brain that catapults us to a much higher level.

Covey further elaborates in his book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People:  "Our unique human endowments lift us above the animal world.  The extent to which we exercise and develop these endowments empowers us to fulfill our uniquely human potential.  Between stimulus and response is our greatest power - the freedom to choose." 

And, as you might have already surmised, the purpose of this site is to convince and enable you to further develop those endowment so that you are empowered to fulfill your full life potential.

In discussing our ability to develop the "habit of proactivity", he says "Look at the word 'responsibility' - "response-ability" - the ability to choose your response.  Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility.  They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior.  Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling."

Your level of responsibility is proven by the results you get in life.  Determine your level of responsibility by answering Where Am I On The Responsibility Scale?.  And then note how your life is going, especially as to repeated, unsolved problems where you are simply engaging in the same reactive behaviors.

"Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us."

THE DIFFERENCE:  HIGHER BRAIN THINKING

The primitive brain does not "think" per se, it just reacts according to its program (or stored pattern in the brain).  It just does whatever that program dictates.  Our body/mind just then "reacts", instantly producing an action, emotion, or signal to act.


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I expect to add to this, or link to present sections already written, to improve it.  However, there are sufficient pieces on the site for you to see or do these.

CAN I CONTROL THIS, I THOUGHT IT CONTROLLED ME?

STIMULUS-THOUGHT-RESPONSE

ANIMAL JUST “REACT”:

SIGNAL  PRIMITIVE BRAIN INTERPRETS  INSTANT REACTION  FIGHT OR FLIGHT           
                                                                   OR
                         STIMULUS   RESPONSE (largely instinctual, simple)

BUT HUMANS ARE CAPABLE OF INTERVENING:
 
             SOMETHING HAPPENS  SIGNAL  PRIMITIVE BRAIN  INTERPRETS
                INITIAL EMOTION CREATED  HIGHER BRAIN INTERPRETS
                THOUGHTS ABOUT IT  USES “DATABASE” OF THOUGHTS 
                INTERVENES, DECIDES WHAT TO DO  WE ACT (VS. “REACT)

WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM ANIMALS IN THAT WE THINK “IN BETWEEN” AND CAN INTERVENE TO CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS.  THEREFORE:

0 WE ARE 100% RESPONSIBLE  FOR ALL OUR RESPONSES AND ACTIONS.

     0 BEING OUT OF CONTROL IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE FOR A POOR RESPONSE. 
                                            
0 I AGREE THAT I AM 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR

     0 MY THOUGHTS AND
     0 THEREFORE MY EMOTIONS AND
     0 ALL MY ACTIONS AND
     0 I AM WILLING TO INTERVENE & 0 TO LEARN WHAT IS NECESSARY TO DO SO.      


EMOTIONS AS MOTIVATORS                           
 
EMOTIONS ARE STRONG MOTIVATORS.

THE STRONGEST EMOTION WINS THE STRUGGLE.

      WE DO WHAT WE CAN TO AVOID THE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS.

              THIS IS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF OUR LIMITATIONS.

WHILE WE CAN, AND IN SOME CASES MUST, OVERRIDE THE NEGATIVE EMOTION AND THE ACTIONS CREATED THEREFROM, THAT IS OFTEN THE “HARD WAY” AND MOST OFTEN FAILS.

      E.g.  Addictions, using “willpower”, choking up with fear, etc.


To live a good life

You must, at least "sufficiently" at the minimum, learn to be a master of emotional management.

The Vital Skill Of Emotion Mastery - Anxiety, Fear, Anger, Mood, Stress Management