By Matt Hearnden

We were coming back from a night out and there was a guy shouting and stumbling all over the place and just looking completely drunk.

“We should probably just stay here for a while,” I thought. My gut agreed. Did you know there’s over 100 million neurons in your gut? It’s like a “second brain.”

I said nothing.

Because I was just being stupid, wasn’t I? And what would the others think of me if I said we should wait here because of some random guy in the distance? There were girls with us. I didn’t want to look bad in front of them.

We kept walking and it took about a few minutes for us to reach them. And that’s when I heard it.

“I want the big one! I want the big one!”

The guys I was with were small. He was talking about me.

We had to walk by him to get to where we were staying. I just told the others to ignore it and to just keep walking and to say nothing.

He came right up to me and started shouting in my face.


I didn’t look at him. I didn’t want to look at him. I wanted this to be over and I wanted that deep and foreboding feeling in my stomach to go away.

The others were almost jogging at this point to get away. I kept on walking because I wanted this to be over but I didn’t want him to win.

His friends were ambling behind him and doing nothing. I’m only just mentioning them now because that’s how insignificant they were, even though they could’ve prevented the whole thing.

The guy stopped shouting.

He spat on my face.

I wiped it off and glared at him.

I could feel my right fist clenching. Never have I wanted so much to see someone in pain and to be the cause of it. I thought “I’m going to hit him.”

I could feel my arm wanting to raise and pull back and strike.

But, again, I did nothing.

As much as I wanted to do something, as much as I wanted to punch someone in the face for the first time in my life, I stopped myself.

He gave up. Or his friends finally woke up. I can’t remember. But I remember catching up with the others and walking into our student halls and sitting down in the kitchen with adrenalin still coursing through me.

The girls told me they were so scared and thanked me for not doing anything.

“We should probably just stay here for a while,” I thought. My gut agreed.

But I didn’t listen, did I? I pretended I was being stupid and overthinking and I didn’t want to look bad in front of the girls and so, instead of making the choice I knew was right, which was waiting, I made the choice to keep walking and walked right into a situation I never wanted to be in. Even though I could see it coming.

“I’m going to hit him.”

But I didn’t listen, did I?


This time, not listening was the right thing to do. I wanted to hit him but I knew it would’ve been wrong.

The point is this: in both cases I had thoughts and feelings.

In both cases, I CHOSE to act.

I CHOSE to not listen to myself about waiting for the danger to pass, even though I knew I was making the wrong choice.

I CHOSE to not listen to myself when I wanted to punch him because I knew that not punching him was the right choice.

Self-awareness is realising that you’re not a slave to your thoughts and feelings. They are not your masters. You are not required to obey them.

Self-awareness is realising that your thoughts and feelings aren’t responsible for the choices you make.

Self-awareness is realising that you’re more than your thoughts and feelings and that you, and not your thoughts and feelings, make your choices.

As Victor Frankl said:

“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.”

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