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Monk Notes 33 - Impulsive vs. Reflective Action

It’s easy to get caught in a pattern of mindless and habitual doing.

We think that if we want to grow we just need to start doing something. So we set our hands and our minds to the first thing that seems like a good idea. But what we miss is the fact that action isn’t necessarily progress; sometimes what we need to do is gain more clarity.

We need to gain clarity about what is true about our current situation, clarity about who we are, clarity about the direction we are currently headed, and the direction we’d like to be headed toward.

This is why reflection is essential. Often the most important step to take in order to progress toward our ideals is to first ask what those ideals are, and then take time to consider which actions will truly move us toward them. It’s easy to begin to take quick actions in reaction to a feeling of frustration or regret, but there’s a remarkable difference between these actions and those we take when we’ve truly considered the right path forward.

When we act impulsively or reactively, we're like a person with good eyesight who wakes up and starts doing things without first opening their eyes. Actions taken in this way will not be beneficial to us, in fact, they're more likely to be detrimental and cause harm to our goals and intentions.

Reflection enables clarity, helping us to see what needs to be done and how to do it. Without first reflecting, we will start taking actions that don't draw us toward our true goals, and we'll likely end up reaching outcomes we never intended or wanted. When we finally begin to reflect, we might realize that the next step is to backtrack and undo the actions we took impulsively or with a lack of clarity.

Sometimes the fastest path to fuller living isn’t doing more, it’s first taking the time to step back and see what actually is.


All the best,

Steven Lawson

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

- Carl Jung


Self-Reflection for Healthier Relationships - U.S. News

While reflection can help us achieve more in our personal growth and understanding of self, the benefits don't stop there. As Elise Mitchell explains in this blog entry, the more time we spend slowing down to consider things more fully, the greater heights we're likely to also achieve as a worker and leader.  LINK

The Reflective Leader: How Slowing Down is the Fastest Way to Increase Your Effectiveness - Elise Mitchell

On top of being able to complete more meaningful tasks and goals in your life, reflection also allows us to not only experience a deeper sense of interconnectivity with ourselves but with those we care most for as well. For a deeper explanation as to how, consider this piece by U.S. News.  LINK

Look Before You Leap: 17 Ways To Slow Down Impulsive Decisions - Forbes

There are so many subconscious quirks and habits we fall into that we never notice we're doing until it's pointed out by someone else. It could be the way we twirl our hair while we're listening, a specific kind of smile you make when you hear an especially funny joke, or in the case of this article, impulsive actions we've never considered were impulsive. Take a look though these 17 tips to slow down from Forbes and consider whether or not these would be helpful to begin practicing, chances are there will at least be a few. LINK

Featured Art: The Young Apprentice, Amedeo Modigliani(1918-1919)