Endigar 573 ~ Curbing Rashness

From the Daily Reflections of October 12;

When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot.   (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 91)

Being fair-minded and tolerant is a goal toward which I must work daily. I ask God, as I understand Him, to help me to be loving and tolerant to my loved ones, and to those with whom I am in close contact. I ask for guidance to curb my speech when I am agitated, and I take a moment to reflect on the emotional upheaval my words may cause, not only to someone else, but also to myself. Prayer, meditation and inventories are the key to sound thinking and positive action for me.

 

END OF QUOTE

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frankl2

This contribution reminded me of a book I read when I was a much younger man called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey.  Time has eroded much I gained from that first read, but it has been marked in my mind’s archives as an excellent resource.  Maybe I will return for a second encounter.  One story and the seed idea it relayed has stayed with me and seems quite appropriate with this daily reflection.  I will share it with you now.

BETWEEN STIMULUS AND RESPONSE

Frankl was a determinist raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology, which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and, basically, you can’t do much about it.

Frankl was also a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat them.

His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens. Except for his sister, his entire family perished. Frankl himself suffered torture and innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” — the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Viktor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact.

He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps. He would describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines — mental, emotional, and moral, principally using memory and imagination — he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger and larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors. They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options. He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards. He helped others find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.

In the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human endowment of self-awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

 (Image is of Viktor Frankl)

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