Ah, the age-old dilemma. Should you listen to your feelings or your head? The short answer is both, but since when have I ever stopped at the short answer? You’re right. Never.
Let me explain.
My impulse is generally to over react. To everything. In order to curb this, I like to talk things out, especially when I am unsure. It makes me feel better about my emotions in the same way that hard facts and numbers make me feel better about life in general. Giving me statistics and scientific studies calms my racing thoughts as well, allowing me to focus on the larger picture so that I may respond to stimulus rather than to simply react.
Why is this important?
Well, I’m glad that you asked. Because I am prone to react reflexively to things rather than think it through, I am, in those situations, rendered unable to consider the ramifications of my actions. As a case in point, I was once rather easy to startle. I also have an overdeveloped fight response. If someone sneaked up on me several years ago my reaction was nearly always to throw a punch.
When my daughter grew to be old enough to enjoy lurking around corners so that she could jump out to say boo, I knew that my impulses had to change.
It took a little time and a lot of effort. My husband would purposely startle me so that I could learn to stop lashing out before thinking. He got decked a time or two for the cause. He took it with pillow armor and good graces. I also had several conversations with my daughter about not jumping out to scare me, and bless her, she listened like a trooper.
I was also once a person with an issue controlling my anger. I was never violent in anger because I knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end, and I had trained myself out of being violent in my fear. What I did do when I was angry was say horribly hurtful things to people, and I knew that was another thing that had to change. I taught myself to walk away when angry and trained myself to breathe and think before saying the harsh words that sat at the tip of my tongue.
Over the years I have gotten to the point where I do not just follow my impulses. I realize now that it was just another way to protect myself from being hurt by others. I have grown as a person. I have learned better. I am no longer that same abused little girl who had no way to escape my abusers. I no longer have to fear violence or wonder whether those larger and stronger than me were going to be mean drunk or coming down off their high that day. I don’t need to guess if someone who is supposed to be in a position to protect and guide me will try to fondle me when their wife is out.
These things have changed. I have changed. I have always and will always refuse to perpetuate the cycle of abuse, and I have succeeded in that. I have worked hard to overcome my beginning and have chosen to respond to a situation rather than react.
I am a person of intention rather than impulse.
If any of you are struggling with a similar problem, then I urge you to reach out for help. I know that it can be a difficult step to take, but I will always believe that you are strong; you are awesome. You can do this!