Stimulus vs. Cause (KD 12)

This key dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on can bring a lot of cla­ri­ty in many situa­tions in life, when I can be awa­re of it. I ask mys­elf: Where is the focus in each side of this dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on?

You cau­se my fee­lings with your beha­vi­or. or…
I cau­se your fee­lings with my beha­vi­or.
I am angry becau­se you do not lis­ten to me. I am fear­ful becau­se you dri­ve the car after drin­king alco­hol. I am hap­py becau­se you give me a present.

If you are like me, this inter­nal mode of ope­ra­ti­on is acti­ve in many if not most moments of my life. 

When I belie­ve that pat­ten, I am in emo­tio­nal depen­den­cy mode.

So in order to feel bet­ter when I feel bad, I typi­cal­ly want to chan­ge what the other or mys­elf are doing. One focus is thus on stra­te­gies, on direct requests: Please stop doing this. or I will do what you want, in order to make you feel bet­ter.
And so forth…

This mode of ope­ra­ti­on typi­cal­ly is accom­pa­nied by mora­li­stic judgment, that makes me or others wrong. And the­r­e­fo­re deser­ving punish­ment.

Or making them or mys­elf right, good ones, deser­ving rewards.

Often an obs­ta­cle to me being honest or doing some­thing that is authen­tic, is the fol­lo­wing type of thin­king: It will cau­se you pain, make you sad, get you angry… if I say or do that… (fear of punish­ment, wor­sening of relationship)

And a moti­va­ti­on to do some­thing, in order to make you hap­pi­ness, joy, con­tent­ment… (loo­king for reward in bet­ter relationship)


When I view actions of others as sti­mu­li for my fee­lings, my focus is on con­nec­ting to needs, to my deeper values in each moment. 

When I am able to live from this con­scious­ness, I am in (emo­tio­nal) inter­de­pen­den­cy mode. We rea­li­ze we have influence on each other, but we are not the reason/cause for the fee­lings that we have.

A sti­mu­lus is an obser­va­ti­on (some action, words, even my own thoughts).

This is best unders­tood by see­ing that the same obser­va­ti­on sti­mu­la­tes dif­fe­rent fee­lings and needs in dif­fe­rent peo­p­le, so not peo­p­le and their actions cau­se my fee­lings, but my needs trig­ge­red by an obser­va­ti­on. Our needs cau­se our fee­lings.


A per­son asking for money stands next to the ent­ry of a supermarket. 

I noti­ce this person. 

The noti­cing sti­mu­la­tes the life in me. 

Needs ari­se and various fee­lings point to the­se needs. 

While the per­son asking for money expres­ses a PLEASE, the way peo­p­le recei­ve this PLEASE differs. 

Often I say no to the request, which means that I say PLEASE too. It does not make life more beau­tiful for me to give money. I attempt to make life more beau­tiful by wal­king past, not respon­ding in any way, at times even by ignoring. 

My first nter­nal reac­tion to my noti­cing of the per­son asking for money is often dis­com­fort, when I see a per­son asking for money. Something is clo­sing up insi­de. For exam­p­le when I recei­ve in the obser­va­ti­on a demand (my inter­pre­ta­ti­on), my need for auto­no­my is sti­mu­la­ted. That is high­ly uncom­for­ta­ble and I will go to inter­nal resis­tance in a flash of a moment, likely.

I also noti­ce fear. A fear-dri­ven thought can ari­se to my awa­re­ness. If I give with get­ting not­hing in return, is the­re enough for me, my fami­ly? I need trust in finan­cial via­bi­li­ty when I pic­tu­re mys­elf giving with get­ting not­hing in return. What if I should give to all peo­p­le asking, the­re are so many of them !! So a need for sur­vi­val is trig­ge­red. Very unpleasant. 

The CAUSE for my fee­lings are my needs. Can I con­nect to my needs in the moment? 

It is not the per­son asking for money, respon­si­ble for MY FEELINGS — my inter­nal needs are sti­mu­la­ted by my noticing.

And my NEEDS are respon­si­ble for my feelings.

Another per­son may have a need for con­tri­bu­ti­on, enjoy­ing the moment of giving and the gra­teful reco­gni­ti­on of the receiver. 

Another per­son gets angry, thin­king that the­se peo­p­le should work, nee­ding per­haps under­stan­ding, how hard it is to go to work everyday. 

The needs cau­se our fee­lings, not the actu­al actions that trig­ger them. 

So I can say:

“You sti­mu­la­ted pain in me, when you said XYZ, but the cau­se of my pain was not what you said, it was my unmet need for hones­ty. You only sti­mu­la­ted my need. What did you hear me say?”


” Huh?”

This con­cept is hard to live in life, becau­se we all lear­ned to take respon­si­bi­li­ty for the fee­lings of others, espe­ci­al­ly clo­se peo­p­le. From child on this mecha­nism is implanted:

I am unhap­py, becau­se YOU did this. 

Needs are absent from awa­re­ness and lan­guage. It is the lan­guage of domi­na­ti­on, of right and wrong, vio­lent and tragic. 

Even expres­sing mys­elf in giraf­fe, in less than 40 words, peo­p­le most­ly will hear jack­al, they will hear bla­me that they did some­thing wrong. For example:

Expressing in giraf­fe:
I am unhap­py, see­ing that you all deci­ded this wit­hout me being pre­sent, becau­se I have an unful­fil­led need for sit­ting at the table when decis­i­ons are made. I need inclu­si­on and belon­ging. What do you hear me say?
You always are unhap­py about some­thing, we had to move on this and you were not the­re!
Giraffe rep­ly:
Thanks for let­ting me know what I mana­ged to get across, I want to try if I can make mys­elf more clear.” (try­ing ano­ther round of self-expression).

Even say­ing it in giraf­fe, peo­p­le will hear bla­me. I want to check what they hear me say, by asking them. Asking for reflec­tion, a tri­cky business!

My way of brin­ging this key dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on into my life, is to rai­se my awa­re­ness when I live in the para­digm that I was brought up in. 

Every time I expe­ri­ence: I/You cau­sed this pain, I want self-empa­thy and con­nec­tion to my needs. 

I rea­li­ze I am not con­nec­ted to needs, when I ope­ra­te in the nor­mal consciousness.

It can act as powerful gate­way to invi­te me to con­nect to my natu­ral consciousness.

This key dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on offers me the pos­si­bi­li­ty of libe­ra­ti­on and empowerment.