Me: “Hey Sherry, do I make any impulse decisions?”
Sherry: “Bwaaaahahahahah… oh, you’re being serious?”
That’s all the conversation that I needed to remove any doubt there might have been in my mind. To me, most of these “impulse decisions” are merely just “decisions”, but looking more closely at them from the outside perspective, they may have been a bit (or very) impulsive. Actually, when I really think about it, my life is a entourage of impulse decision after impulse decision. After thinking about it and discussing it with my wife, the first thought to run through my head was “… Do I ever think before I make decisions?”
I’ve made countless small everyday decisions on a whim, I think we all have. But the big decisions… surely I’ve thought those out, haven’t I? I’ve bought 7 vehicles in my life… 2 trucks, 2 Jeeps, Sherry’s BMW and Range Rover, and a motorcycle. I think my current truck and my first Jeep (which was my first vehicle bought with the assistance of my parents) are the only ones that weren’t impulsive. And my current truck was totally impulsive as well… it was just a bit more “necessary” because my other one broke down.
How about houses? When we lived in Calgary we decided to “go look at show homes” one day. We had talked about wanting to look into buying a house, so decided to go see what was out there. We looked at a few show homes, then looked at the sales office for a condo project that was a few months from completion. I wanted it. We needed a $1000 dollar hold deposit, so I wrote the cheque for the deposit (which I didn’t have money in my account to cover). But a few months later we were proud owners of a 1100sqft loft in the trendiest area of Calgary.
Notice I said “when” we lived in Calgary. We now live in small town rural Saskatchewan, and the move here was pretty much impulsive as well. We got a phone call from a realtor that had a client interested in buying in our building. I told Sherry that if it sold we’d move. It sold immediately, with a 14 day possession. I went in the next day to give my 2 weeks notice, we quickly finished the small reno we had started, and we packed up and left our entire life behind… all on 2 weeks notice. No jobs lined up, moved into our parents house, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It seems crazy now to look back at decisions that were made, really, with next to no thought put into them at all. And there’s many more daily examples. “Why is it that I make these impulsive decisions?” Honestly, I have no idea. To me they aren’t impulsive… they’re just decisions. I don’t think about them. That, I guess, is where lies the problem. I DON’T think about them. There have been countless small projects stated. We’ve had so many ‘coffee dates’ in the city, spur of the moment. (Note: living half an hour out of the city, our coffee including price of gas is roughly $17 per cup… but oh, do we enjoy it.) My impulsiveness is so second nature that I don’t notice it at all. Even my wife, I’m pretty sure has grown so used to my quick decisions that she just sort of “rolls with the punches” most of the time.
But how do you stop impulsive behaviour if you are completely unaware of your impulsiveness? I mean, I literally have no idea when I’m being impulsive and when I’m being more rational. “Sleep on it” is one approach I’ve heard. Write down on paper a “decision” you are needing to make, and put it on the fridge. Don’t make your decision until the next day, after you’ve thought the choices and effects out. If spending is a problem, keep a spending log, or journal. Write down everything you spend so you visibly “see” your financial choices. This along with “sleeping on it” should prevent some of the new vehicles in the driveway, which is not a bad thing.
There are so many areas of my life that, as I work through DBT and counselling, I realize are interconnected with each other, and are all branching out from the core of BPD. It’s hard, as these habits and patterns have been formed over years and years. But on the flip side, they are habits and patterns that have been created, and therefore are habits and patterns that can be altered. Impulsiveness has played a surprisingly major role in my life from how I interact with peers and friends to how I handle business, how I run my home. To answer the question… Yes. I have made countless impulsive decisions in all different areas of my life. Just one more area that has lasting effects on relationships as well as regular day-to-day life living with BPD.