I subscribe to an online fitness site that provides workouts. I like the trainer’s philosophy and the workouts he provides. One idea he promotes is that a workout is a way to learn to be uncomfortable. He teaches that the moments of stress which physical movement presents are valuable lessons in life.
Recently, in the middle of one of his workouts he discussed stimulus and response. He compared the workout to life in that we all experience things that may shock our system (stress) and we have choices in how we respond. As the workout got tough he cued us to come back to our breath as a response to the difficulty (instead of giving up!). He suggested that we generalize this strategy to daily life.
I tuned into this because at the school where I work, we teach this to students as part of helping them cope with the trauma they have experienced. As I listened to the trainer’s encouragement, I thought “Wow, what a great application to daily life.” A few days passed and I continued to mull over this concept of stimulus and response. I am learning that when an idea or concept stays with me, there’s a reason- and there was. I remembered a very uncomfortable moment in my life that had transpired a week or two before. In that situation I was triggered and immediately reacted. A few minutes into my very unconscious reaction, I shut up and listened. I listened to the other person and more importantly(at that moment) to myself. I realized I was following the same old pattern which never ended well. So I stopped, politely excused myself and walked away. I immediately felt disappointed in myself, but later, after connecting it to the stimulus/response connection I relaxed. I realized that slowly I am becoming more conscious of my responses when I am triggered. I am building new neural pathways, and I am learning to not automatically resort to my old responses.
New habits or behaviors take practice. The universe provides us with opportunities, so we can fit a new piece into the puzzle of our lives. We are provided with the pieces and it is up to us to put them together. In my example, the universe got my attention through the stimulus/response connection. At first, I connected it to my role as a teacher, but later I applied it to myself. I am learning to consciously respond instead of unconsciously react. I am continuously being supported to heal, learn and grow. Each time a new piece is added we are encouraged to move forward. The world seems like a complex place and yet there are those times when everything falls into place and it makes total sense. I am constantly in awe at the variety of clues that we are provided with. I invite you to stay curious about what happens to you, your opportunities and the people in your life. It is all part of your story, your puzzle and it is a great adventure putting it all together.