How To Manage Impulsivity
The dictionary defines impulsivity as the condition of “being actuated or swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses”. We are moved to act in some fashion by urges or emotions that are triggered by some external or internal stimulus. The implication of this description is that we have limited control over our actions when the impulse takes hold. Consequently, the idea of being able to refrain from impulsive responses seems highly improbable.
Not all impulses are equally powerful for all individuals. Based on our temperament and body of experiences we will be more susceptible to certain impulses and less to others. For some, material pleasures can be overwhelmingly tantalizing and very difficult to pass up. For others the impulse that can be irresistible is more abstract – fame, power, status, etc. Immediate gratification can be much more compelling than patiently pursuing long-term objectives. However, everyone struggles with some desire or another that seeks expression and satisfaction even against our better judgement.
Can we optimally attain mastery over powerful impulses without engaging in self-defeating behavior? MFC has a framework and the tools to do just that. We accomplish this daunting task not by diminishing one’s freedom of expression but by expanding it.
Trying some sort of exercise like corrective self-talk to impose restraint or re-direction on an impulse suggests that it must be contained or suppressed if it is to be managed. In effect, one is stifling one’s self. Making an impulse “go away” in this fashion is highly unlikely to succeed.
MFC does not focus attention on curbing the inner experience. Rather we work at heightening one’s awareness of the impact of an impulse – on thoughts, feelings, and actions. We expand one’s repertoire and offer a new skill set, which can be initiated as an alternative to the old pattern of simply reacting in haste and regretting at leisure. Having an alternative model of engaging with the impulse provides the possibility of choice. One is now in a position to direct responses rather than being directed by the impulse.
The first step in the process of impulse governance involves deciding what success will look like. What is my destination? How do I want my life to be and what will I be able to do when impulses no longer sway my thoughts, feelings and behavior? With that benchmark one has created the framework for change.
The second step entails learning how to be self-aware of one’s own inner state of mind and external condition at any given moment in time. This experience is akin to – but not identical with – mindfulness. MFC self-awareness entails active steps that are based on our principles and paradigms, beyond enhanced consciousness, that allows one to determine the direction and magnitude of change.
MFC self-awareness also incorporates an understanding of the nature and pattern of one’s thinking. More important than what one thinks is how one thinks. We provide the means for recognizing dysfunctional patterns and engaging optimal thinking patterns that are central to resolving impulsivity.
Finally, there is choice. After utilizing the 3T tool – “Think Things Through” – and tapping into our personal history we can pinpoint the probable consequences of repeating old behaviors. However, every possibility has a polar opposite: “I can do X, or I can not do X!” We are not bound by the experiences of the past. We can see the better choice for reaching our destination.
We create the time and space for choice. That “space/time” is known as the Pivotal Choice Point – the quarter of a second in which a binary decision will be made to act in one way or another. Knowing what we have been through before, how we are thinking differently now, and being attuned to the impact of an impulse we take the other road that brings us closer to our destination.
Like all achievements, the ability to master impulsivity requires patience, persistence, and positivity. We can make our lives bigger and more open to possibility. MFC offers the roadmap and tools you need.