How to stop being impulsive?
Impulsivity interferes one’s overall functioning. This is one of the symptoms in people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is also one of the hardest symptoms to treat.
Many adults with ADHD have experienced different manifestations of impulsivity. This condition can be manageable but sometimes can be destructive and dangerous.
Many people who have an extreme case of impulsivity end up interrupting a conversation by telling a totally irrelevant personal story. Those stories may involve the things they hate and regret in their lives.
Other manifestations also involve the inability to manage financial expenses, impatience in dealing with challenging situations, and an inability to impose self-control. As a result, impulsive individuals often engage in dangerous practices such as illegal drug uses and casual unprotected sex.
However, impulsivity in adults may be more manageable than in children. It is because adults are more capable of controlling their behavior before it controls them. They can undergo appropriate treatment.
The treatment of impulsivity can be varied. But it often comes in the combination of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications. There are many factors that could trigger the impulsive behavior so the integration of many techniques may work better than one.
But aside from the mentioned treatments, there are other strategies you can try. These strategies are the following:
1. Understand the nature of your impulsivity.
Impulsive people have different experiences in their behavior. They are affected in many ways. So the first step in knowing how to stop being impulsive is understanding how your life is affected by this destructive behavior. Examine the undesirable consequences you’ve been suffering.
To do this, you might need a professional help if you can’t make it alone. Finding a social support is an effective way too.
2. Practice mindfulness.
Another good way in taming impulsivity is practicing mindfulness. It is a process of bringing your mental focus to your internal experiences. Pay attention to the present moment without judging your own feeling and thought.
When impulsivity strikes, try to remember all the thoughts and emotions happen in that moment as well as the physical actions it embodies. This is difficult though. At first, you will find yourself struggling. But through practice, you will be able to capture the important scenes when that behavior occurs.
Mindfulness trains your mind to identify the signs and signals of impulsivity. This, in turn, will help you control your urges when a dangerous act happens. When you feel an urge, it is important that you identify it. If you are about to hurt somebody, you need to tell your mind to relax or stay calm. You need to find ways to release the urge in a more acceptable and harmless way.
3. Challenge your negative imagination.
Impulsivity really veers your focus on something irrelevant of the task you are currently working. Students are more vulnerable to this than adults. For instance, a student may be writing an essay assignment or reading a book. But because he was not able to control the urge to surf the internet through his phone, he finds himself browsing his social media account instead of finishing the assignment.
In this case, the student is interrupted by his impulsivity. He spends more time than what he actually needs to finish a task. In most cases, this happens when you feel uncomfortable or you hate what you do. Reading or writing for two hours may deplete your interest and motivation.
One effective way to deal with that situation is through challenging your negative thoughts. Checking your social media in the middle of an important undertaking is not helpful. You need to stay focus until the task is done.
In addition, if you want the process to be more bearable for you, try to break the whole project into smaller steps. Being dedicated to one piece at a scheduled time will help you get more motivated and makes the task less intimidating.
4. Make it difficult to be impulsive.
Understanding the very nature of your impulsive behavior allows you to control it easily. For instance, if you can’t control yourself browsing your social media using your phone while doing a project, then leave your gadget out of your reach. Without any access to the medium that gives you the possibility to feed your impulsivity allows you to win the situation.
5. Learn the mind-calming activities.
Notice that when you’re behaving impulsively, your muscles are tightened. The key solution to that (whenever the urge emerges) is to relax. According to experts, the progressive muscle relaxation, a calming music, exercise, and a deep breath can loosen up the nerve. So you better learn some of these techniques.
Learning how to stop being impulsive may not be easy. But with proper treatment and understanding of your own behavioral tendency, you will be able to deal with it. You can make your life better and more productive.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.