Impulsivity, Procrastination & Shame – Part I

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I believe that we are brilliant beings.  When I meet with clients, I am fascinated at how their minds, bodies, emotions and spirits have survived their fate.  How they have created intricate coping mechanisms.  How they have altered their thinking.  The intelligence that exists in each and every human being needs to be honored.  We don’t react or create patterns in our lives because we are dillusional.  We have created patterns to work with our previous and current reality.  If we are distrustful, it is because we have lived in situations throughout our lives where people WERE distrustful.  If we fear rejection, it is because we have been rejected over and over in our lives.  Eventually, we find that these coping mechanisms and patterns are no longer acceptable to us.  They are messing with our lives in a way that brings us shame and guilt. 

 If people move, speak, and act quickly and impulsively there has to be a reason.  If people tend to procrastinate and move slowly, there has to be a reason.  However, moving too quickly or too slowly can bring criticism, judgment, and shame into our lives.  Impulsivity can cause as much “destruction” in our lives as procrastination.  As we get tired of creating this “destruction” in our lives time after time, we decide we need to change but aren’t sure how.  How do we find a balance?  If we feel we move too quickly (and this has been our life pattern), how do we slow down?  If we move too slowly, how do we take steps to move in a quicker way without compromising our need to think things through?

Shame has followed my impulsivity.  I have been judged, yelled at, criticized and disciplined for blurting words out without using a filter.  I can be crude.  I can make a statement I think is funny – and then look around to see horror on the faces around me.  Ooops, not funny!  I can be mean.  I can be truthful without compassion.  I can be acerbic and sarcastic.  Again, this is not usually my intention.  It is the impulsive blurting without the filter…  It is a very young place I go to.  I grew up in a large family where it was difficult to be heard or seen unless you spoke quickly and loudly!  You also had to act pretty quickly – especially with the bathrooms and at meal time to have “enough” food or hot water!  If you examine this young place, it is a place of fear.  A fear of never having or being enough.  A fear of never being seen or heard.  It is a place that is “desperate” for attention.  Moving and speaking quickly was a coping mechanism – that can come in handy, but it can also cause a lot of trouble and problems you no longer want in your life.  This is the key!  Find the FEAR to find out WHY you act the way you do.  Where does the fear live and breathe within you?  Where does the FEAR taint the truth of who you are??

 Around seven years ago I realized that I used my words as my defense.  To stay one step ahead.  To “protect” others.  To keep others intimdated.  To protect me.  My words, when blurted, kept me isolated and misunderstood.  Notice that I didn’t use my words to create vulnerability, compassion, softness, and love.  I was afraid for others to witness my heart – yet I expected others to see beneath the impulsive words and actions to my truth, my heart.  So, about seven years ago I got a tattoo on the back of my neck.  It is a Kanji for “Harmony”.  It is a visual statement that shows my longing to have my words (my throat chakra) in alignment with my heart and my mind.  Now I can’t see my tattoo but others see it.  I am asked by others at least once per month about my tattoo.  By having to tell them what it is and why it’s there, I am reminding  myself of my positive intention.

If fear created my need to be quick and impulsive, then the obvious place to look to create more balance was to slow down.  The ever important “Pause” button that is necessary for all of us impulsive and fast moving people!  Pausing before I speak or act allows me to ask myself these important questions:  What are the consequences of what I am about to say or do?  Will they think it is funny?  Is this important?  Will it hurt their feelings?  What is the purpose of me saying or doing this?  By taking approximately two seconds – yes, only two seconds – I am able to create more harmony between my words and my heart thereby honoring God’s greatest gift to me – my huge, loving heart.  It is a constant challenge to put my fears aside and move slower.  Telling myself that I will still be seen, heard, and have (and be) ENOUGH is my mantra on this path of slowness!

Another gift of slowing down is that it allows me to be truly present with another.  We are usually living in the past or the future.  Think about when you are having a conversation with someone else.  While they are speaking are you already formulating your answer?  Are you day dreaming?  By staying in the present, it allows me another Pause!  I am pausing to HEAR what the other person is saying, not only with their words but with their whole body.  I am listening on a level that can only be achieved when you are fully present with another.  What a great gift for me AND the person I am currently in relationship with (whether it is a client, husband, child, or stranger!).

Slowing down is a constant challenge for me.  I have tried to take it to every level – when I remember!  I drive more slowly (this means less speeding tickets!!).  I eat more slowly.  I try to let my husband’s more relaxed attitude infuse my life and body!!  I do my best to hit the “pause” button as often as possible when I am speaking or acting.  I don’t always succeed and then I am left to clean up my messes.  But, I AM better.  I am less stressed.  I am less fearful and angry.  I am a work in progress.  I revel in the times that moving quickly is needed – and honor my ability to do what needs to be done quickly and efficiently!  But this is not the place I live anymore.  I try to live in the more balanced place.  Balance is a life lesson for ALL of us!

I raise my glass to going more slowly!  Love to you!