Impulse Control

I am astounded sometimes by the lack of impulse control so many people seem to have these days.  I certainly expect children to not be able to refrain from giving in to every impulse they have because they haven’t learned not to yet, but it amazes me how many adults never do.  The number seems to be on the rise.  So of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that teenagers who are learning by example seem to have difficulty with this as well.

Now that I am back in the classroom at the middle school level, it seems to be the biggest challenge.  Many students can’t refrain from sharing every thought that comes to mind at any time.  Or they just get up out of their seats and wander around the classroom if they feel like it.  They don’t understand that sometimes they need to wait to go to the bathroom because they’re going to miss some important instructions or information if they don’t. Any question is fair game at any time, even if they could easily figure out the answer for themselves.  There’s no sense of whether they should or shouldn’t do or say something because it might not be an appropriate time.  They can’t seem to do anything without talking while they are doing it.  And they don’t ask permission either.  They just do it.  It makes me wonder if anyone at home is teaching them to be conscious about this, whether this has just become more acceptable to more people, or whether it’s not really a choice for more people (because I know that is difficult for people with ADHD, for example).  It’s probably a combination of it all.

I wonder what kind of adults they are going to be if they have SO little impulse control as teenagers.  Thank goodness it’s not ALL of the students.  That gives me hope. However, when you combine the lack of impulse control to do the things that they want to do with the lack of motivation to do the things that they need to do, then I worry.  I see that in my own kids too.  I can be impulsive sometimes  and end up doing things that I hadn’t planned on doing (like when I sit down to write these blog posts), which prevents me from doing the things I should have been doing, but I manage to get done the things I really need to do and eventually find the motivation to get the rest done too.  It takes me longer than I would like sometimes, but life can’t be all work and no play.  It’s a balance, and it seems like too many people can’t seem to find that balance because they’re too impulsive.

Unfortunately, I think the vast amount of information at our fingertips and number of ways we can entertain ourselves with some sort of electronics these days plays a role in that too.  It’s too easy to impulsively pick up our phones and start scrolling through whatever social media accounts we have or text someone just to say hi.  How many times a day do we all do that?  Too many.  I’m guilty too.  It’s that instant gratification that’s hard to ignore. Unfortunately, I think that’s part of the problem.  We’re so used to instant gratification that we can’t go without it for very long.  So now those middle schoolers who were already hard enough to manage years ago because they are still children who need instant gratification are even more difficult to manage now.  They can’t wait to share a thought or ask a question because they thrive on instant gratification that they are so used to getting, now that they all have their own phones or other electronic devices.

It’s something we all really need to be conscious about … how impulsive we are, and can we set a better example for our children and help them learn to not be so impulsive themselves.  My job would be a whole lot easier if more people did that.

New Beginnings

fall

Lunar eclipses are supposedly considered to be opportune times for growth, release, and new beginnings.  They are said to inspire us to let go of what no longer serves us in order to prepare ourselves for personal growth or starting anew, perhaps turning over a new leaf.  Oddly enough, that expression is associated with autumn and not springtime, which is when one might more readily consider a time for new beginnings. But really, new beginnings can happen at any time, whether we plan them or they are unexpected, and they often require us to shed what is weighing us down in order to prepare us for a fresh start.

Seasons changing, life cycles, and things of that nature are full of natural beginnings and endings that happen on their own.  Other beginnings we can plan, like buying a new house or car, or perhaps deciding to make a positive change for the better such as losing weight.  We can prepare for these things by cleaning out our closets or trunks or getting rid of all the sweets in the house.  Other bigger changes like moving to a completely new city or changing jobs may require much more effort as well as letting go of relationships we have formed with others who we know we won’t be able to see as often.  Some of the preparation we need to do is physical and some of it is mental.  It may involve making a clear decision and conscious choice to make whatever change we would like to see happen.  And then we may need to establish goals and deadlines, find ways to stay motivated as well as the determination to keep going, and keep our focus on the end result, depending on what we are trying to change.

Then there are the things that are beyond our control, which take us by surprise.  This might include the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship not by our choice, a car accident, damaging weather conditions, being laid off work, or changes forced upon us due to the decision of someone else.  It is easy to think of these situations as endings and focus on the negatives, but it is when we try to find the positives and look at the situation as a chance for a new beginning of sorts and a chance to grow as a person that it becomes easier to deal with and we can begin to move forward without fear of change.

One of the things I enjoyed about teaching is that every fall is was chance for a new beginning with new classes and new students to teach and new co-workers to get to know.  It was always a mixed bag of emotions at the end of the year saying goodbye to students I would not teach or see again, but that was a necessary part of the job.

I personally have had to deal with plenty of changes in my life, many of which were not ones by my choice.  For a while it seemed like most of them were making me feel like I would perpetually be in limbo, which is not a feeling I enjoy, but fortunately there are more changes coming that may change all of that.  I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and am feeling weights lifted off of my shoulders. T hat certainly helps me to stay focused on the positives of each situation and appreciating the changes to come rather than resisting them.  The transitions may not always be easy, but they are necessary to get to the point of feeling like it is truly a new beginning, just as it is necessary for leaves to fall off of the trees.

Even though autumn represents things coming to an end, I think it is the most beautiful time of year.  The fall colors and the smell and crunch of the leaves feed my senses, and I can’t get enough pumpkin and apple cinnamon flavored foods and drinks. Endings can sometimes be just as beautiful as beginnings, and we need to look at them that way.  Whether it’s a change or ending we wanted or not or anticipated or not, if we can look at it as an opportunity for a new beginning, then hopefully that makes it a whole lot easier.  As Maria Lago has said, “We all change colors and lose our leaves, then we bloom again.”

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