The Power of Creating Space Between Stimulus and Response

Tara H

Hatched by Tara H

Oct 07, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Creating Space Between Stimulus and Response


In our fast-paced world, it's easy to react impulsively to situations and emotions. However, by creating space between stimulus and response, we can gain control over our reactions and make more thoughtful choices. This article explores the importance of feeling and labeling emotions, surviving tantrums, and being present in distressful moments. Through these common themes, we can discover actionable advice to apply in various aspects of our lives.

Feeling and Labeling Emotions:

Research shows that the practice of affect labeling, which involves feeling and labeling our emotions, can significantly reduce physiological arousal and calm the amygdala, the brain's fear center. Interestingly, individuals who deeply felt their emotions but did not label them experienced more angst. This highlights the importance of both feeling and labeling our emotions to effectively process them. Naming our emotions may seem challenging, but tools like the "writer's wheel of emotions" can make the process easier.

Surviving Tantrums with Intentional Responses:

When faced with a toddler's epic tantrum, it is crucial to take a moment before reacting. By pausing, we preserve our agency and can choose our words and actions thoughtfully. To maintain composure during such situations, it can be helpful to imagine ourselves living our best lives – well-rested, well-fed, and freshly showered. This exercise allows us to channel a calmer version of ourselves and respond more effectively.

Creating Space Through Mindfulness:

In distressful moments, our instinct is to rush in and distract or fix things to alleviate discomfort. However, sometimes the best approach is to simply be present and sit with the distress without trying to shorten it. One way to achieve this is by practicing mindfulness. By focusing on our feet, feeling the sensation of our soles pressing into the ground, and noticing the support of the earth, we can ground ourselves and remain present. This technique helps us resist the urge to avoid or escape difficult emotions, fostering growth and resilience.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace affect labeling: Take time to identify and label your emotions. This practice will help you process and regulate them effectively, leading to a calmer state of mind.
  • 2. Pause before reacting: When faced with challenging situations, especially with children, take a moment to collect yourself before responding. This pause allows for more intentional and thoughtful actions.
  • 3. Practice mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Focus on the present moment, grounding yourself through sensations like feeling your feet on the ground. This practice will help you cultivate resilience and navigate distressful situations with greater ease.


Creating space between stimulus and response is a powerful tool that allows us to navigate life's challenges with intention and control. By embracing affect labeling, surviving tantrums with intentional responses, and practicing mindfulness, we can develop the skills necessary to cultivate emotional well-being and make wiser choices. Remember, it is in these moments of pause and presence that true growth and transformation occur.

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