how to control impulsive

Every person has a different type of personality. Some are spiritual, others are logical. One person might be calm whilst another is more reactive, but perhaps one of the most common traits a lot of people share is being impulsive. 

Those who have an impulsive personality tend not to think long and hard about decisions. They take immediate action, often with little thought given to the long-term impact of their actions. Impulsivity can come in all manner of forms, ranging from little things like impulsively buying something new, all the way to bigger issues like partaking in dangerous activities. 

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous every now and then, being consistently impulsive can quickly lead to bigger issues further down the line. Examples could include:

  • Regularly buying new items to the extent there are negative financial implications 
  • Routinely interrupting people to the detriment of your social relationships 
  • Taking risks that could severely harm yours or someone else’s safety and/or wellbeing

The implications of being impulsive can be damaging if not managed correctly. To an extent, most people are impulsive at times, but it does no harm to learn to control impulsive behaviors if they’re beginning to have a negative impact on certain areas of your life. 

 

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Identify the cause of your impulsivity 

Impulsive behavior can sometimes be an indicator of a different issue. Impulsive behavior is linked to a number of mental health disorders, including (but not limited to):

  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • BPD (borderline personality disorder)
  • Kleptomania 
  • Pyromania
  • Trichotillomania 
  • Bipolar disorder

If you feel like your impulsivity cannot be helped and is combined with other symptoms, or if you feel like it’s negatively impacting your life in a way you are struggling to control, you should have a chat with your GP or local medical professional. 

If your impulsivity isn’t affecting your general life but you feel like it could be reduced with simple life changes, you can try some of the below tips.

  1. Have an outlet 

A good tactic that a lot of people who are impulsive use is to find an alternative outlet. A good example of this is if you feel like you impulsively interrupt conversations, make a conscious effort before speaking to write down what you want to say on a piece of paper. This will prevent you from interrupting and allow you to listen to the rest of the conversation and then decide if what you wanted to say is still valid. 

  1. Make lists

In the case of impulsively spending and buying things, a good tactic is to go shopping with a list. This will force you to be rigid and reduce the risk of you buying unnecessary items, therefore helping you to control your impulsivity. 

  1. Timing is key

A large of part of being impulsive is acting too soon. In the case of negative emotions like anger and hurt, reacting immediately can have dire consequences and make the situation worse. It could even cost you relationships. Rather than reacting straight away, force yourself to take a step back for a day or two before you react. You might choose to take a period of time to learn how to do this. For example, the rules of Ramadan force Muslims to be patient and dedicated, therefore helping them work on their impulsive instincts for a full month, the benefits of which will extend into everyday life.

These are just a few of the ways you can help to control an impulsive personality. It is worth noting that you are allowed to indulge every now and again, so don’t feel like you have to be completely strict. 

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