There are so many things which cause impulsive behavior. Whatever the cause, there are a number of ways to help calm the beast.
I must admit, I’m guilty of impulsive behavior. I have Bipolar disorder, and sometimes during manic episodes, I make impulsive decisions like spending too much money. While I remain in control most of the time, these little spending sprees cause financial damage. I have learned long ago that I have to deal with this impulsive behavior before something life-changing happened.
Impulsive behavior in illnesses
Impulsive behavior is present in several different disorders and conditions. It’s just one of the many symptoms that you have to endure among the other problems that come with your specific illness. Some of these illnesses that cause impulsive behavior are:
Surprisingly, impulsive behavior is common in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. With this illness, you may witness, gambling addictions, hypersexuality and other hard to control actions.
This illness causes the incredible urge to steal things. This urge can sometimes even be greater than the need to eat or sleep. When the urge to steal arises, it can be almost impossible to thwart.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can cause many forms of impulsive actions. Those who suffer from this illness are prone to over-react, make rash decisions, and act irresponsibly when operating machinery, just to name a few.
What causes impulsive behavior?
Impulsive behavior comes from receptor flaws in the prefrontal cortex. Connections between certain regions in this area responsible for healthy responses are impaired. This part of the brain, when flawed, will look for the quickest and easiest way to complete a task instead of a well-thought-out plan.
The good news is, when you learn to control these flawed impulses, connections that are broken begin to restore. So, learning to deal with these impulses is the first step to gaining that control.
Ways to deal with impulsive behavior
Maybe now you understand how hard this issue is to control, and how you must find ways to deal with impulsive behavior. Fortunately, there are a few ways to do this. Let me break it down for you.
1. Remove temptations
So, what if you cannot control eating too much fast food? Well, it’s kind of hard when there is a fast food restaurant on every corner. Or, what if you cannot control spending your entire paycheck on wine or cigarettes?
It doesn’t really matter what the temptation is, but what matters most is how available those temptations are to you. To help you curb impulsive spending or eating, you must remove the temptation or remove anything that helps you get to your temptation.
For instance, if you cannot stop spending your paycheck on junk, then opt to have a hefty portion deposited into a savings account instead. If fast food is your problem, then cook a meal at home before you go out. If you go out after you’ve eaten, you are less likely to want unhealthy convenience meals.
Learning to remove temptations just takes a bit of ingenuity.
Make a deal with yourself that if you are able to resist what you really want, you will reward yourself in another way. Say, for instance, every time you don’t drive to town and get a treat, you place a dollar bill in a reward jar for savings.
Maybe you can give yourself a bigger reward, or maybe you can reward yourself in another way. Maybe this savings fund is for a vacation. If you keep the vacation in mind, it will help you resist the urge to do that impulsive thing.
3. Reduce stress
During stressful times, impulse control is decreased. I know this for a fact because today, I had a bad day, and guess what? I paid way too much for my lunch…way too much. I didn’t care either because I was stressed.
If I had been a bit calmer, I may have chosen to return home and prepare something or even purchase a more affordable meal. Yes, I’ve done this before too.
Sometimes it helps to remind yourself why you need to control your impulses. Remind yourself about the consequences of your actions so maybe you will have the desire to try harder.
When it comes to unhealthy eating, remember the influence “bad” foods have over your metabolism, your energy levels and much more. Do yourself a favor and research the effects of unhealthy eating.
Research the effects of bad spending. Research the effects of making other rash decisions. Always remind yourself of what can happen when you give in to impulsive behavior. Then remind yourself of the good things that come with making wise decisions.
5. Professional help
There’s always professional help when you feel yourself losing control. Impulsive behavior, while seemingly harmless, can actually cause devastating consequences when left unchecked.
Support from family and friends is a great option, but sometimes only a professional can formulate a plan to set you on the road to recovery.
Let impulses/healthier thoughts
Over time, as you limit your impulsive behavior, you will also begin to change your entire mindset. I can say that I have improved in this area, maybe not as much as I should, but some improvements are still good.
Change isn’t always easy. It wasn’t for me. It will take time learning to control your impulsive behavior, but when you do, you will have a much better outlook on life itself.