Impulse control is a learned behavior that we develop as we grow. The ability to resist instant gratification even if the consequences are negative can take years to develop. Although it is very easy to say that impulse control is a good thing that is crucial in achieving one’s goals, it is a lot harder practice.
We’ve lined up six principles below that will help you manage your impulses more effectively.
6) Be aware of the risks.
Determine what areas of your life have caused you troubles as it correlates with impulse control. Some people are having issues with procrastination while others have problems with eating too much or drinking too much alcohol. Some have hot tempers who have trouble controlling their anger while others are unable to manage their spending impulses which may lead to financial troubles. If you find it difficult to identify which areas of your life get you into trouble, ask someone who knows you really well as they may have a better perspective on your problems than you do.
5) Make a plan for your risks.
Once you have determined your specific impulse control risks, you can now develop a problem solving action plan. For instance, if you have a problem with drinking too much, then perhaps it would be wise to keep alcohol out of your house. If you have a tendency to eat too much, learn and practice mindful eating. If impulsive shopping is your problem, stay away from malls or get rid of your credit cards. If you have trouble with alcohol, try to avoid your drinking buddies and consider getting a new set of friends. Altering your environment greatly helps in managing impulse control.
4) Practice counting to 1 to 10 before taking action.
One effective way of overcoming your impulses is to delay them. Try making a habit of counting slowly from 1 to 10 before taking action. To take your mind off your impulses even more until it passes, try counting 1 to 10 in another language.
3) Practice being mindful.
One method that’s helping a lot of people in dealing with their impulsiveness is being mindful. Try to bring your attention to your impulses, desires and feelings without judgement or alteration. Always keep in mind that just because you have impulses doesn’t you have to act on them.
2) Get corrective feedback.
Changing behavior is hard without corrective feedback. Ask people you can trust to assist you by providing you with corrective feedback every time you act on your impulses. Having close friends or family who can point out your behavior in a helpful and non-judgmental way will help you become more aware of your impulses. Remember: being aware is the first step towards bringing about a positive change in your behavior.
1) Never give up on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Behavior change is the hardest thing a person can do, especially if the behavior provides some form of pleasure for the person. There are also no simple answers when it comes to managing your impulses and behavior in general. Don’t let this get you down, though. There are countless communities, support groups, articles and tips relating to impulse control you can find online to provide knowledge and support when moving through the stages of change. Also keep in mind that slow progress is still progress so be gentle with yourself. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.