Being surprised at yourself

Sometimes I find myself being surprised at my own actions. It's not a good sign: after all, shouldn't I know myself well enough to be clear about what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it? And yet I frequently realize, immediately after saying something, or making a gesture towards somebody, that I've been acting from impulse, and certainly not an impulse that is in tune with my considered opinion. I look back and have to ask myself what's come over me just a second ago; it's revealing that more often than not, I even hesitate to honestly identify precisely what affect was behind my behavior (they're foolish enough to be ashamed of).

What's so bad about this is not only that it is irritating, experiencing yourself as acting differently than you think you'd act. It's also somewhat shameful: after all, these are still your actions, with all the responsibility that comes from them — you're not excused from the consequences of what you're doing just by saying: "Oh, I didn't mean to do that, it was just an impulse!" An impulse it may have been, but it was your impulse; you have to own up to what flows from it just the same.

And even more importantly: each time you are commanded by an affect you're not making the best out of your possibilities: you're letting weaknesses, bad habits, and external circumstances dictate where it should rather be yourself who is in charge. So you'd better train your reflexes to be in accord with your values and goals; your impulses should be shaped by what is the right thing to do in the situation; you should be motivated from what reflection tells you is the way to go. Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.