For someone whose mind is occupied with as many things as mine is, I actually have excellent impulse control. This is demonstrated by all of the socially unacceptable thoughts I have that I’ve not acted on. For example, I’ve not had sex in my workplace, or set a building on fire, or told the CEO of my old company what I think of him. I’ve also not yet cut my brother’s brakes so he careens down a hill and then dies. Of course, this could be due to the fact that I’ve not been alone with his car.
Then again, I also don’t know where the brake lines are or how to cut them.
I jest, to a point. I don’t consider myself a murderer despite having thoughts to the contrary, but I also don’t live in a world where my thoughts are made manifest. If I did, impulse control would have an entirely different meaning and perhaps we’d end up like people out of Harrison Bergeron from sheer necessity. Okay, yeah. Not sure where I was going with that last bit, to be honest. Anyway, my thoughts, like those of all human beings, can be quite random and unexpected, and I (mostly) don’t act on the ones that show up out of the blue or that I deem unwise. It’s the mostly that counts there, I think; all human beings are going to end up doing some things they later regret, and some of those things derive from impulse.
So, why the fuck am I writing about this stuff on my religious blog? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about random thoughts and impulses and how we as humans control what we do, when we do, and I decided to try and take a look at it from a FlameKeeping perspective. This included talking to Genevieve Wood, founder of FlameKeeping, to get her opinion on the topic. Once she stopped laughing and referred me to Skippy’s List (specifically, number 87), she noted that impulse is reaction rather than action, and that “impulse should be run through the filter of “is this a bad idea” before acted upon.”
Now, what I think is a bad idea may (and almost certainly does!) differ from what you consider a bad idea…but I think that’s the point, really. Regardless of what society as a whole may put forth as optimal (in)action, everyone’s experience of life is different and, except on rare occasion, each individual should be able to determine what is a bad idea from their own point of view. Sometimes that aligns with what society says, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that alignment isn’t a meter stick – to measure someone up against societal norms alone is to ignore the larger picture.
I’m rambling again, aren’t I?
Here’s the thing – controlling my impulses might make my own life smoother, but it doesn’t make me a better person than someone who doesn’t control them or can’t control them. I am not a good person based on the fact that I haven’t cut my brother’s brakes; there’s a lot more desire not to spend time in prison than there is benevolence.
We are all Divine – you, me, the tree, the rock, and my left shoe (ESPECIALLY my left shoe!). That Divinity is not erased when we give in to our impulses, nor is it bolstered when we control them. Relax, take a breath, and run your impulse through your personal filter…and if it looks good, leap.