IMPULSE AND SPONTANEITY

I don't remember doing anything in my entire life just because...from the time I could remember, everything I did (or at least 99%) had a purpose and a reason. Spontaneity was or is not one of my strong points. I always looked before I leaped...I was the type who would analyze things...in other words, I thought too much. But the funny thing is, I also have an impulsive nature...that's why I don't go shopping in the mall unless I really have to, if you know what I mean. So, does that mean that I'm impulsive but not spontaneous? Is there a difference? Definitions I've come across say they're the same but I don't think so...I know that I am impulsive in many ways (like shopping when there's a sale) but it's not easy to get me to do things on a whim. I found these definitions on the internet which I feel are more correct...SPONTANEOUS implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness while IMPULSIVE implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment. Dr. Pauline Wallin, author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide to Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" points out the difference in her April 2006 Inner Brat Newsletter where she says that "spontaneous people are generally flexible and like to do things on the spur of the moment. These are the folks who change their weekend plans at the last minute; who suddenly decide one day to cut their long hair short; or who go to the store intending to buy bread and milk, and come out with a cart full of items. Spontaneous actions such as these can make life interesting. Although the consequences may sometimes be unexpected, they are not hurtful or destructive. On the other hand, impulsive people are those who take spontaneity to the extreme". I guess from this you could discern that impulsive behavior is bordering on the pathological while spontaneity is something that could be considered healthy and good for for our mental health. Benedict Carey in his article Living on Impulse says that spontaneity can be a healthy defiance of routine and defines impulsive behavior as the tendency to act or react with little thought. So the difference between the two is clear, while spontaneous people also takes risks in doing things that may be spur of the moment, they are not irresponsible and they know when to stop. On the other hand, impulsive people lose control and most of the time only realize their mistakes when it's a little too late. Okay, so now I understand that I am really more spontaneous than impulsive, which is good...still, next time there's a sale, I'm going to practice more self-control and leave my purse at home... ;)

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