Let’s face it: We all have a bit of impulsive behavior to one extent or another. Retailers capitalize greatly on it; those piles of lower-priced items near the cash registers are a prime example of impulse-buy temptations. I know I’ve picked up a pack of gum or a lip gloss, not needing them, on many occasions.
Impulses can lead us into all kinds of unfortunate situations, some of which could be irreversible. In terms of relationships, our impulses can most certainly end up in regret and remorse. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, but more often than not, it’s been my experience that impulses and impulsive behaviors are not our friends.
I’d begun thinking about this when a friend mentioned that I need to differentiate impulse from instinct. At that time, I didn’t even know what she meant. I had no idea how anyone could tell the difference. She made it very clear to me when she explained, “Just review every bad decision that you later regretted. Chances are that decision started with an impulse.”
Well, that certainly gave me pause. Then she told me something that made it all clear:
“Think of almost every retreat you’ve gone on. You’d always come back telling me how the first few days, your thoughts were racing. Those thoughts are impulses. But remember, after a few days, you’d relax and feel more at peace and then at some point, hear a quiet voice in your head? That voice is your instinct.”
She then gave me some invaluable advice. If those first thoughts you have when you’re faced with a decision are racing around in your head, they might be impulsive. The best thing to do, first and foremost, is slow down.
Ask yourself a few questions before making a decision:
- Who benefits from this?
- How will I benefit from it?
- What are the benefits costing?
- Which is worth more?
In terms of cost and worth, think about these options:
- Am I being taken advantage of under the guise of being charitable?
- Am I risking my reputation in order to become more popular?
- Is a compromise devaluing my authenticity?
My friend gave me advice I’d like to pass on: Carry something in your pocket or wear something – a crucifix, for instance – that would help remind you to ask yourself these questions. My friend said it would be a reminder to check in with your “internal compass.” Holding onto it while considering all options may help you to slow down and listen to your instincts, rather than fall prey to your impulses.
CatholicMatchers, how has instinct guided your dating life? When has impulse influenced your thinking? For better or worse?