Ever have one of those days or nights when you do something out of character? You usually do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it, but then one day you feel like mixing it up a bit? I think we all have those moments, hours, days, weeks, or even months when we get a little impulsive.
Usually spring fever brings out the crazy side in even the most cautious person. After a long cold dark winter you feel like you just want to go out and do something fun. Maybe you decide to go out with some friends to a party or a bar. In an impulsive moment you decide to be bold and go up to a complete stranger and hit on them. Then surprise, surprise, they show interest back. You think, “What the heck? You only live once, right?” So you live in the moment and act like the free spirit you usually aren’t. You spend the rest of the night totally consumed with this person. You leave with them and decide a one night stand sounds pretty exciting. You have sex and fall asleep exhausted.
Then you wake up. If this isn’t your usual routine you may feel a little panicked. You feel awkward so you make a hasty exit out the door in last night’s clothes. You do the walk of shame across campus or back to your apartment. What is going through your head at that moment? You may be thinking, “No harm, no foul” and move on with your life like this moment never happened. You may be thinking, “What in the hell did I just do?” and feel regret about your decision the night before. You may be thinking, “I didn’t use protection!” and be worrying about potential STD’s. You may be thinking, “I’m glad that person wasn’t psycho and didn’t kill me while I was sleeping” and feel fearful thinking about what could have happened. You may be thinking, “I can’t believe I just did that!” and feel proud of yourself for doing something a little crazy for once. When you take a risk it is hard to know how you are going to feel afterward. You may be feeling a mix of all of the above.
It isn’t called a risk for nothing. When you live in the moment you take a certain amount of risk. I think it is good to take risks and not weigh every decision to death. However, you have to be careful about what risks you want to take. Some may be worth it, and some may not. A one night stand can be potentially deadly if you don’t use protection. Some STD’s are life threatening or incurable. That is a high price to pay for living in the moment. Some impulsive risks also have the consequence of losing a valued relationship. On the flip side, taking risks can make you feel more confident and exhilarated. That is why we take them. We aren’t sure what the outcome is going to be, but there is a chance it will be a good one. Some risks we take could even lead us to a better place in our lives.
By nature some people are more risk taking than others. Some people are also used to having impulsive moments. They rarely think ahead and usually let go of their losses as quickly as they enjoy their gains in life. Then there are some people who are cautious by nature. They rarely live in the moment and can be hard on themselves when they take a risk and lose. If you feel like what you did was a mistake, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all live and learn. Next time you won’t go so far with your impulse because you’ll know the consequences. I’ve seen people in counseling who have done things they regret in an impulsive moment. They have a hard time letting go of it. They may feel anger at themselves, the situation or the other person. Some people tend to judge their own actions harshly. I encourage people to look at themselves as a whole. A moment, day, week, month or even a year of your life doesn’t define the whole of your life. If you don’t like a certain choice you made, just assure yourself you won’t do it again and do your best to move on.
If you are living in the moment this spring I applaud your free spirit. However, if you are regretting choices you’ve made, don’t despair. Use the information to make more informed choices in the future. You may also choose to take different kinds of risks in life. If you’ve tried to stop your impulsive behavior and can’t seem to control it, please seek help from someone who can help you through the decision making process. I’ve said this before, life is about balance. You don’t want to be too risky, but you don’t want to be afraid of taking risks. If you feel out of balance with your recent choices, it is okay to seek outside help to get back on track. Otherwise, I hope your impulsive moments lead you to be a stronger, smarter, more well rounded person!