Emotional Impulsivity

Emotional Impulsivity is a topic that we may hear about but not completely understand concerning mental health and emotional wellbeing. We may often think that emotional impulsivity is like emotional instability, but that is not completely the case. Being impulsive, or acting without thinking, is a behavior that we often see in children and adolescents and we believe that they will “grow out of it” and become mature, rational, logical adults. However, we hear stories and see real life cases of so called rational and logical people doing things driven by emotions and sometimes out of character. Even we ourselves can acknowledge when we have acted impulsively and have been “in the moment” without thinking about the consequences of our actions. For most of us, this can lead to some minor embarrassment or guilt regarding how we acted. For some of us, these behaviors can lead to long term serious consequences. No matter the severity or the frequency of these behaviors, the solutions are the same. It is important we develop healthy coping mechanisms and distraction techniques that allow us to remove ourselves from the heat of the moment and really consider how our actions may be harmful to ourselves or others. Here are some quick and easy steps to help us process our negative emotions:

  1. The Sleep Rule – Before you decide to do or not do something, take some time to really think about if this is the best course of action. For most people, once they have slept on something they find their emotions are better under control and they can think more clearly
  2. The Consequences Rule – Imagine that you go ahead and engage in this act. Think of every possible way that this can end. Think of all the negative consequences that may arise if you go ahead with this action.
  3. The Distraction Rule – This is like the sleep rule. Do something fun and light hearted to distract yourself from the issue or the trigger. This can be taking a walk, exercising, calling a friend, listening to music, watching television, etc. For most of us being distracted lessens the emotional impact of the situation.
  4. The Talk It Out Rule – If you know that you still want to act on your impulse and the other tricks have not worked, employ a trusted sounding board. This can be a family member, friend, or a significant other. It is always best to talk to someone who is a not biased and has a history of giving sound advice. When you process your emotions with this person and receive feedback, you may find other alternatives to acting on impulse.

We hope these tips and tricks will work for you. Until next time, MiND Your Matter!

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