Okay, so we’ve all had those times when we we’ve been impulsive, haven’t we. Maybe buying that shiny new toy ‘we just had to have’ but regretting it later when we saw the credit card bill. And then there are those situations where someone’s pressed our buttons and whoa, there you have it, the automatic response we’re ashamed of when we know we could have responded much better. The benefit of hindsight and a cooling off period is a wonderful thing, isn’t it.
So how do you learn to respond differently in the moment?
Well it’s a simple little tool called ‘The Gap’. And while it’s simple, it does take a certain amount of awareness to use it. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it immediately. Intent is what counts here. And after a bit of practice you might be surprised at how easy it is to use.
How does it work? Well basically, it’s about putting a gap between an impulse and an action. Pausing to take stock, so that our actions become responses rather than re-actions. So when you see that shiny new toy that demands you buy it, it’s about noticing that feeling of want but not giving in to it immediately. Instead, taking a breath, or walking away if necessary and then deciding whether you really have to have it, or whether you’d rather use your money for something else. Sometimes of course you’ll buy it, but it’s with a clear head rather thanas an impulsive purchase.
And the Gap can work magic in relationships too. Taking a moment to pause as you catch yourself reacting allows you to pull back from the heat of the moment and respond in a way that is respectful to both our feelings and the other person’s.
The beauty of the Gap is that it allows us to consider what is the best thing to do in any given moment. It’s about living consciously rather than just sleep walking our way through life on auto-pilot. Mindfulness meditation puts it like this… when you feel that urge to react just STOP before you do anything.
S = Stop
T= Take a breath
Where can you use the Gap in your life?