10 tips for learning impulse control
Several tips and recommendations on how to control impulses and not get carried away.
There are many times when we do something that we later regret. Sometimes, our desires dominate us and we behave impulsively, without thinking about the consequences.
There are all kinds of impulses, both good and bad, but behind them is the difficulty to control how we behave. Saying the wrong thing to a partner, eating too many sweets or buying clothes and spending our savings are examples of impulsive behaviors.
Although varied, they all bring with them consequences that can harm us, which is why it is important to follow a series of tips to learn how to control our behavior. a series of tips to learn how to control impulses.. Let's see a few of them.
Tips for learning to control impulses
Not everyone behaves with the same degree of impulsivity. Some show problems in relating to others, while others have no control over what they say or what they do. Telling your boss that you absolutely can't stand him or her is not the same as punching him or her in the nose, although both, of course, are not at all appropriate behavior.
There are several ways in which we can reduce the number of times we behave impulsively, allowing us to take control of our own behavior and gain a greater degree of self-control.
1. Identify how and when they occur
The vast majority of impulsive behavior has a reason behind it, whether it is associated with a psychological disorder or more contextual factors..
To the extent possible, identifying what is behind the occurrence of impulsive behavior and when it happens is a key factor in learning how to manage it. For example, if we are struggling with the urge to snack between meals, we can ask ourselves several questions such as why do I want to snack? did the food fill me up enough? what made me want to have chocolate?
By answering these questions we can understand more deeply why the impulse occurs and, in turn, opt for alternative behaviors that prevent it from occurring. that will prevent it from happening.
2. Review emotions
When we are having an impulse, how do we feel? This question is very important, especially looking at before, during and after carrying out the dreaded and worrying behavior.
It is possible that our state of mind is a causal factor in the occurrence of the behavior. We should meditate on how we felt before deciding to carry it out.
While carrying out the impulse, we may feel satisfied, but we may not be able to do it. this satisfaction will be short-lived, because after carrying out the conduct, there will come the regret and the 'why did I do it? and the 'why did I do it?'
Keeping this in mind while about to do the impulsive behavior may imply avoiding it altogether.
3. Looking for a distraction
The world is full of all kinds of stimuli, which can help us to avoid carrying out a behavior that we do not want to do rationally but our body asks us to do it.
For example, we just talked to our partner on our cell phone and he told us that last night he didn't like the way we did the dishes, something he always tells us but we don't understand why he thinks they are not clean enough.
In this situation, we could answer impulsively with a 'well, from now on you clean them' or 'you are too picky', something that is clearly not going to help calm things down.
Instead of answering, it is better to wait while watching television, reading a book or painting a picture. These are activities that help to isolate yourself from the world, to disconnect for a while.
Later, when you are calmer, you can think more rationally and tell your partner to explain why you are doing things wrong.
4. Thinking about the immediate future
One of the ideas most shared by psychologists, especially from Mindfulness, is the idea of living in the here and now, the here and now. living in the here and now, in the present moment..
However, a good way to avoid the impulse is to think about how we are going to feel immediately after we have done it, and also what changes in the environment and in our social environment we are going to cause.
We can try to think coldly about the consequences of being too honest, breaking an object, or taking a snack that we shouldn't, to name a few examples.
5. Count to ten
Taking a deep breath and counting to ten, although simple and cheap, is very effective. It allows us to reflect with a certain degree of depth on why we wanted to do what we wanted to do..
The ten seconds are only a suggestion. It may be that, depending on our degree of impulsivity, we need more time to calm our impulsivity.
6. Meditation and yoga
Any practice in which a deep reflection of our psychological state is carried out contributes not only to a better control and emotional adjustment, but, as a beneficial side effect, also allows us to better control our impulses.
It can be done in all possible ways, although one of the best known and most effective meditations studied is mindfulness.
Yoga is also usefulAs a physical activity, yoga not only offers benefits on a physical level, but also on a mental level, allowing us to have a calmer and more rational vision of our momentary cravings.
7. To think of alternatives
Whether because of boredom or because we are immersed in a huge anger, impulses happen. A good way to avoid carrying out the feared behavior, such as eating that chocolate bar that we have saved for the weekend or punching someone who has just said something unpleasant to us, is to carry out a behavior that replaces it.
It is obvious that since there are so many different types of impulses there will be, in turn, many ways to substitute them, but whichever one it is, it has to fulfill the function of preventing the undesired behavior from being carried out.
For example, to avoid snacking on chocolate when it is not your turn, you can take the healthy decision to drink a glass of water and, if it is not full enough, drink another one until you are full.
As for punching, a less harmful option, a less harmful option is to take a cushion and make that object the victim of the blow.
8. Identify positive impulses
Just as there are negative impulses, there are others that help us in our daily lives. Although it is preferable to think about things before doing them, thinking deeply about absolutely everything is not a very adaptive behavior, since it can waste valuable time.
Examples of impulsive behaviors that can be positive would be to tell a friend that the clothes he is wearing are horrible and thus avoid making a fool of him, to buy all the vegetables on sale at the supermarket...
Once these positive impulses have been identified, they can contribute significantly to changing the person's behavior, especially if these behaviors are prioritized over others. if priority is given to those behaviors that involve some benefit instead of carrying out those impulses considered harmful..
Little by little, the body and mind will enter into a state of satisfaction when we see that we are indeed seeing our desires satisfied, and on top of that, they are the good ones.
9. Learn to tolerate frustration
Impulses arise from cravings, from desires to express an opinion, to want to do something or to interact in a way that is socially frowned upon but that can bring us some relief in the short term.
Therefore, trying to prevent these impulses from occurring generates frustration, which does not facilitate self-control, given that human beings, by nature, are not able to control themselves.This is because human beings, by nature, try to satisfy their desires as soon as possible.
If we manage to accept this discomfort and try to live with it, little by little we will train our body and mind to withstand the impulse and the time will come when it will practically not occur.
10. Learn from our mistakes
The human being is the only animal that is capable of stumbling twice with the same stone, and impulses, of any kind, are a clear example of this.
On more than one occasion we have said to ourselves 'I have fallen again', 'I don't know how to control myself' and similar phrases. To err is human, but not learning from our mistakes is to miss a very good opportunity to correct them.
A good method to manage these impulses is to to keep a notebook or calendar in which you write down when the impulse you are trying to avoid occurred and the cause associated with it.
Based on this, you will have a more holistic view of the individual's behavior, learning which factors contribute to the impulse and, therefore, being able to avoid the small triggers that together contribute to the behavior.
11. Going to therapy
In the majority of the cases, the impulses that are carried out are not something that necessarily implies a serious problem, nevertheless, certain behaviors such as addictions, aggressions or self-injuries imply to go to a professional..
The psychotherapist will be in charge of offering therapies that allow to diminish this impulsivity clearly harmful for the person, diagnosing the possible disorder behind it.
There are many disorders that could be related to the concept of impulse, as for example in the case of many personality disorders, eating disorders (with purgative and binge eating behaviors), ADHD, and of course, impulse control disorder.
- Black D. W. (2001). "Compulsive buying disorder: definition, assessment, epidemiology and clinical management". CNS Drugs. 15 (1): 17-27.
- Grant J. E., Potenza M. N. (2004). "Impulse control disorders: clinical characteristics and pharmacological management". Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 16 (1): 27-34.
- Wright A., Rickards H., Cavanna A. E. (December 2012). "Impulse-control disorders in gilles de la tourette syndrome". The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 24 (1): 16–27.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)