Our experiences color everything. The events of the past can have a profound effect on how we see our lives now and what we choose to believe about our world. Our past experiences can also influence our emotional reactions and responses to present events. Each of us reacts to stimulus based on what we have learned in life. There is no right or wrong to it; it is simply the result of past experience. Later, when our strong feelings have passed, we may be surprised at our reactions. Yet when we face a similar situation, again our reactions may be the same.
When we work to understand these experiences, we can come that much closer to understanding our reactions and consciously change them.
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. Viktor E. Frankl
Between stimulus and reaction exists a fleeting moment of thought. Often, that thought is based on something that has happened to us in the past so when presented with a similar situation later on, our natural impulse is to unconsciously regard it in a similar light. While modifying our reaction by modifying our thoughts is difficult, it is a worthwhile undertaking to understand past experiences that led to a conditioned, unconscious response. This work can help us to see and experience formerly unpleasant situations in a whole new light and allow us to stop reacting unconsciously. Learning the reason for these reactions also helps us put aside a negative reaction long enough to respond in more positive and empowered ways. Then, our reactions and responses then become about what's happening in the present moment rather than about the past. As time passes, the hope is that the negative thoughts lose strength, leaving only our positive thoughts to inform your healthy reactions.