Are you having trouble controlling your impulses? Stress, the holidays, and times of transition can cause this to happen. What to do? Author Fleet Maull wrote in his very compelling book, Dharma in Hell: “I know from experience that arbitrarily imposing strict discipline on myself normally results in fits of rebelliousness, followed by pangs of guilt and compulsive self-recrimination.” Fleet’s words caused me to ponder the difference between impulse control versus mindfully discerning the next choice.
What exactly does “mindfully discerning,” mean? Let’s start with “mindfulness.” One dictionary defines it as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations…”
And what does it mean to be discerning? “Having or showing good judgment.” Putting the two together would be something like, “Focusing your awareness while acknowledging and accepting your experience, and showing good judgment.”
Contrast this set of dynamics with impulse control, “arbitrarily imposing strict discipline,” and what may result: “fits of rebelliousness, followed by pangs of guilt and compulsive self-recrimination.” There’s a huge difference, wouldn’t you agree?
Cultivate a head/heart balance. Proactively make choices rather than respond with a knee-jerk reaction. You will then flow unhampered toward your goals, using less frantic, erratic movements.
Notice and adjust. Catch yourself when you’re out of sync, and gently bring yourself back to the natural rhythm of life. Do this rather than beat yourself up when you realize you’re out of kilter. If you’re unkind with yourself, you’re perpetuating the cycle by creating more of what you don’t want.
Remember, be mindfully discerning as you transition out of the sometimes-very-stressful holiday season and into the new year. And keep this in mind:
Get out there and design your life! If you don’t design your life, it will design you — it’s up to you! ~ Fleet Maull