Impulsive lately? New shoes, spur of the moment trip, splurge on an extravagance, speak without thinking? We all do it!
Impulsive behaviors are defined as sudden, involuntary inclinations that prompt an action. Impulsivity is absent of the thought process that occurs with reflection and conscientious evaluation. Impulsive behaviors often occur as a perception of the reward dominates the potential consequences. This feeling overwhelms so profoundly that no thought process about consequences enter the decision.
Some of us are more prone than others to act impulsively, based on many factors that comprise our personality and constitutions. While some behaviors that occur impulsively are dangerous, others result in a sense of joy or contentment. Taking the scenic route, the amazing shoes, the app that saves time, or the splurge that creates lasting memories are great examples. Impulsive behaviors can confirm our sense of adventure and reaffirm a sense of spirit. When impulsive behaviors increase in frequency and intensity, a method of control may be helpful to avoid lasting or serious consequences.
Acting on an impulse may be the difference between life and death.
A speeding car coming towards you and you leap out of the way: Impulsive in that it requires no thought and is a reaction to keep us safe from danger. In life or death situations, obviously acting without thought is requisite. Other circumstances where impulsivity is less than effective is when disparaging emotions dictate reaction: anger or rage, anxiety, irritability, stress, over-committed, fatigue, or selfishness. These emotions can result in explosive rages, binging or purging, excessive drinking/smoking/gambling, workaholic tendencies, violent words or gestures, among many others.
Insight into triggers can help us manage less-productive impulsive tendencies and adjust accordingly:
Identify Your Triggers: By identifying potential causes we are able to understand when impulsivity may occur. Stressed or fatigued: react with hurtful words? Overwhelmed: snack unconsciously? Anger: vindicate with an impulse purchase. Identifying what triggers our own impulsive acts can help us better manage our behaviors.
Recognize the Consequences: As the urge to act dominates the thought of potential consequences, journaling past behaviors inspires acknowledgement. Recording consequences we know arise when we act impulsively may deter us from acting without thinking next time.
Employ Techniques: Becoming aware of methods to quiet your emotions and bring peace is important to life, in general. When impulsive behaviors are a problem, calming techniques can help, but preparation for known triggers is important too: If you over-react when you are stressed, be careful about timing when interacting with those who may annoy you. If impulse purchasing is a problem, leave your credit card at home unless you plan to use it. If when overwhelmed and snacking unconsciously only to realize the entire package/bowl/plate is gone, surround yourself with healthy, satisfying options. Knowing what causes us to react impulsively and planning for those behaviors allow us to engage in a different, more purposeful way.