Spontaneous or Impulsive: Which one are you?

Being in the moment, the ‘now’ implies being alert and responsive to every moment. But this approach might sometimes disrupt our meticulously detailed plans or agendas.

For some, that would mean relinquishing control of the future and exposing yourself to ridicule or judgement. On the other hand, living according to a regimented plan would imply curbing your natural enthusiasm and creativity or might even prevent you from responding in time to a particular situation.

How do we decide, when to be spontaneous and give in to the moment or when to hold back and stick with our plans? The Sufi knows that life is evolving and creating itself every moment.

So the real question is not about choosing between the exuberance of spontaneity or the stability of planning, but identifying whether your action in that moment stems from your centre or outside of it; from spontaneity or impulsiveness.

Spontaneity means acting naturally and effortlessly without any limitation. The spontaneous energy is rooted in your very centre of awareness.

For example, your four-year old playfully splashes a jug of water on you and is looking forward to your response with an air of innocence and amusement. One option is to reprimand and lecture him on good behaviour and then get back to cleaning the mess and completing your never-ending list of jobs for the weekend. The other option is to look behind his act to see his desire to engage with you, realise that he will never be this age again and decide that a half hour diversion from work into play will not seriously derail any life-altering plans. When a spontaneous person gives in to the moment, he or she is accepting complete responsibility for that moment and its consequences, is open and adaptable to the myriad possibilities of life, and is mindful of the bigger purpose. Spontaneous action generally leaves you feeling joyful, liberated, and full of gratitude for life.

While the context of impulsive behaviour is rooted outward, the periphery, it is more a reaction to the environmental stimuli rather than a heartfelt response.

For example, during a fight you get caught up in the heat of the moment and say many things, which you neither mean nor imply and then regret later. Driving rashly, indulging in repetitive mindless tasks or behaving compulsively in certain situations, are also examples of impulsive behaviours.

At its peak, impulsive behaviour can evolve into an addiction. Impulsiveness is rooted in the ego, driven by our baser instincts, and usually accompanied by guilt, regrets, or misery.

So the next time you face the quintessential dilemma of spontaneity versus impulsiveness, find out where your action is rooted.

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