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Minding the gap

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (associated with ​Viktor Frankl​)​

Can you imagine a world, where something annoys you, and you are able to take a breath, notice what you're feeling, connect with that feeling, and then choose a response that later you won't regret?

If we were choosing superpowers, I would want that to be mine. To be able to recognise that, as Susan Davis writes, "I am not my feelings".

Creating the gap

To train our brains to recognise that we are not, in fact, our feelings - we can feel them and move on - start small.

Next time when you feel triggered, upset, annoyed, irritated - pause and name that feeling for yourself. It might appear counterintuitive to do so, but the feelings we ignore don't go away - if we don't feel them, they might get bigger, louder and come out at moments we would rather they didn't.

You might want to say it in your mind, you might want to whisper it, you might simply want to state it out loud: "I'm feeling annoyed right now"

And then take a breath.

Notice what it feels like.

Pause - you have just created a gap between the trigger and your reaction.

Just by naming what you're feeling, you are already creating space between the trigger (what happened) and your reaction. Sarah Peyton, NVC trainer and neuroscience educator, says that "using words to name an emotional experience can help calm the amygdala and release the alarm message."

Increasing the gap

Once you get comfortable naming the feelings, and increase your repertoire of words that match your experience - try different ways of wording that and see what happens in your body as you do so.

I am annoyed.

I am feeling annoyed.

Part of me is feeling annoyed.

I'm noticing that I'm feeling annoyed.

The more you practice, the more you teach your brain that you are in control here - not your feelings. Your feelings are signals, and it is important to recognise what they're pointing you towards. But in order to do that, we must learn to soothe our brain and nervous system when feelings show up, so that we can respond instead of reacting.

It might seem like it takes too long, and sometimes we don't have time to name everything that is going on for us - but would you rather take the time before you react, or take time afterwards to clean the mess you made when you exploded?

As always, this parenting journey starts with ourselves.

With care,


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