Enjoy Greater Success by Improving Your Impulse Control
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No one is born with impulse control and you must actively work on this throughout your life to develop it. Being able to control your impulses ensures that you learn patience and that you do not react negatively to a situation. Good impulse control also prevents you from doing things like spending money that you do not have. You have to improve your impulse control gradually and work on it all throughout your life. This is a constant process that will ensure that you keep your impulses under control.
When you think about impulses, you have to look at the big picture and the small picture. For example, the bigger picture involves something like maxing out your credit card to purchase something that you do not need, but you want it in the moment. The smaller picture involves things like smoking a cigarette when you are trying to quit or procrastinating with work by checking out your preferred social media site. Removing the source of your impulses is the first step in keeping them under control.
Interrupt the Impulse
If you are unable to immediately respond to your impulses, you are less likely to act impulsively. In essence, you will not give into temptation if your temptation is not immediately available. Doing the following will help to remove a lot of the temptations that most people face on a daily basis:
a) If you are dieting, remove all of the snacks and other foods that tempt you from your home
b) If video games cause you to procrastinate, lock them up so that they are not easy to access.
c) If you are trying to quit smoking, throw away all cigarettes and butts, and remove all of the ashtrays from your home
d) Place your television remote control out of your reach to decrease how much time you watch television each day
e) Change your route to get home from work or school if there are stores on the way that tempt you to spend money
Maintaining Impulse Control
After you learn how to interrupt your impulses, you have to maintain this progress so that you can strengthen your impulse control. You now know what your temptations are so you can work to replace them with things that are healthier and more productive. For example, every time you do not smoke a cigarette or give into your sweet tooth, toss a dollar into a jar. You can use the money in this jar for anything in the future. Give the jar a limit, such as $500.00 and once you reach this, spoil yourself. However, if you do give into your impulses, you have to remove a dollar. This helps you to focus on larger goals and retrain yourself to think before you act.
Certain impulses do not have to be ignored completely. For example, if you love video games, allow yourself to play for 30 minutes each day. The key is to never completely deprive yourself of the things that you enjoy, but to moderate the time you spend doing them. The only things that you want to completely give up are bad habits, such as smoking, because this offers no real benefit.
Keep yourself busy when you feel like you are about to give into an impulse. For example, if you feel like giving in and eating something that you should not eat, keep yourself busy doing something positive. You can write in a journal, go for a walk or do anything that is positive that will distract you from giving into your impulse. In this scenario, you could also choose to eat something that is healthy to replace the food you want to avoid.
Now that these things are not readily available, you will find that it is a lot easier to start controlling your impulses. This is because people want instant gratification, but they do not want to put forth the effort for it. This is actually a good thing when it comes to working toward controlling your impulses.
You already have a degree of impulse control because all adults do. However, this is something that you can always improve upon. It is critical that you never just react to situations because this prevents you from thinking things through and making the right decisions. You have the information and tools that you need to control your impulses and work through situations to ensure adequate decision making. You just have to get started with putting all of this into practice.
- Rosemary Kitchen
Plante, T. (2010). Six Principles to Best Manage Impulses to Maximize Life Satisfaction and Success. Retrieved on February 17, 2015 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201005/six-principles-best-manage-impulses-maximize-life-satisfaction-and