May 30, 2012

Think Before You Act

Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf, than that I may not disappoint myself. ~Henry David Thoreau

Impulsive people act before they think, so they consequently have to "undo" a lot of what they've done. Counting to ten beforehand is still an excellent, if childlike practice. We need to learn to pause a bit and think things through. If we always took that simple step before we spoke cruel words, raised our hand in anger, or made a rash decision, we'd have a lot less apologizing to do.

We could all come up with many instances when others have disappointed us. But how many times have we disappointed ourselves by impulsively, and inappropriately, lashing out? Most of us can think of many. We "spanked" a child, we were rude to a store clerk, we stomped out of the house over a silly point of pride. None of these overresponses was necessary or fruitful. We just didn't stop to think.

Improving our self-esteem requires that we work to control ourselves and monitor our actions. This involves avoiding impulsive mistakes that hurt others and consequently make us ashamed of ourselves. The more we practice the long pause, the better we'll get at it. As uncomfortable as it may feel at first, constantly apologizing is even worse!

My impulsiveness fades as I grow in serenity.

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