When impulses control us

Who I am
Joe Dispenza


When impulses control us

Mastering the impulses is not an easy task. It is almost like taming a beast that lives inside us. We explain how to get the better of impulses before they take over.

Last update: May 07, 2020

There are times when impulses control us. These arise from the irrational and primitive part that we all have as human beings. We could compare them to a ferocious animal that, even if we train it, in certain situations tends to act in a manner consistent with its nature, regardless of whether this action is good for its interests or not. In this way, the impulses test our self-control.

The dominant impulses lie at the root of a multitude of psychological problems. We can name addictions as a prime example, but out-of-control impulses are typical of other conditions such as bulimia or borderline disorder.

Being impulsive to some degree in our life is normal. The problem arises when this impulse takes over, causes us to lose the north, blinds us, and forces us to act in disagreement with our values, goals or beliefs.

A similar situation can manifest itself in the form of an emotional tension that is difficult to relieve, which ultimately causes us to succumb to his demands, causes us to realize what we don't want, and to experience a relief that strengthens us. This relief, however, is ephemeral, evaporates quickly, and almost inevitably causes another much deeper and more disheartening feeling: guilt and repentance.

After a while, this disheartening guilt can pass into oblivion, our shadows again threaten us to take control and we repeat the impulsive pattern that gratifies us momentarily and which overwhelms us again in repentance and in the “I am not capable of it, I cannot do it”. We therefore enter a powerful vicious circle that can end up seizing a large part of our biography.

Where do impulses arise?

We cannot know for sure the exact origin of the impulses, but we can investigate each person, verify his life history and attribute probability values ​​and formulate some hypotheses.

Genetics can have a major impact. If our parents are impulsive, slightly neurotic or emotional, the chances that we too will inherit this personality trait will be greater.

And this feature is not only inherited, we can also learn it by imitation. If we see that problems at home are faced with impatience and impulsiveness, we will learn to solve adversity by following this modus operandi. The good news is that we can learn to change what is assimilated.

Studies also inform us of the serotonin deficiency in the brain as responsible for the increased predisposition to impulsivity. It is for this reason that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective in treating these disorders.

In this sense, however, it must be taken into account that pharmacological treatment is limited. At first, it can help to inhibit our impulses, but the action of drugs will not teach us functional alternatives, we will develop tolerance and certain side effects will occur.

It appears that certain emotional gaps in childhood may, to some extent, be responsible for our tendency to overcompensate our adult life with certain impulses. When you review the past lives of people with pathological impulses, you look certain deficiencies in terms of availability, affection or emotional regulation. These "holes" want to be filled with immediate and intense satisfaction.

It is then that we can fall into the clutches of emotional addictions, alcohol, gambling, compulsive shopping, or spark an argument over any matter that can cast doubt on our personal worth.

How can we act when impulses control us?

Learning to act properly when impulses dominate us is no easy task. As already mentioned, sometimes they behave like wild beasts and we already know that taming a fair is not a trivial matter. It requires patience, will, but above all conscious practice.

Despite this, having total control of our impulses is not realistic, so the most convenient option is to reward ourselves for the small successes we obtain over time.

Time to think

The first step in being able to free ourselves from impulses is get away from the situation that favored them. When we leave this situation, even for just 10 o, we limit the freedom of impulses, we curb them.

The impulses are short-lived, although very intense. This is an advantage that we must know how to exploit. The more time we spend without realizing the impulsive act, the more likely we are to resolve the situation correctly.

Label each pulse

We must give them the name they have: "it is just another of my impulses, I don't necessarily have to do what he tells me". The secret is to dissociate one's impulses from one's person, so that they are seen as enemies who want to annoy us, not as something that has to do with us.

Focus the five senses on another matter when impulses control us

As the emotional tension loses its intensity, it is advisable to carry out another activity that will entertain us and keep our minds busy. You can go and buy something unimportant, for example.

This will make us think about what we are going to buy, talk to the clerk, take the wallet, count the money ... trivial actions that we focus on and that make us buy precious time. It is not advisable to change one impulse for another: getting out of the conflict situation and going to drink or smoke is to change one impulse for another and this is not healthy.

Think about your goals and consequences

If I listen to the impulse, what happens? Will I feel better? How long will the relief last? Do I want to be a person unable to control himself? Is this attitude in accordance with my values? If we are clear about our goals in life and what our values ​​are, but we are doing something that we know clashes with them, we will create a cognitive dissonance in our mind.

This dissonance is an annoying state of mind, a "I want it, but I don't have to" and the best thing is to avoid it happening. Always try to act consistently and keep pace with the goals you have set for yourself in life.

Fix the problem (if any)

If the problem has a solution, it would not hurt to explore the possible alternatives to solve it. For this purpose, we can adopt the problem solving technique.

If the problem is a product of our imagination and has no solution, it is best to label it as such and try to ignore it.

Tolerate discomfort when impulses control us

Contain the impulses is only possible if you are able to withstand a certain tension that is not exactly pleasant. It is because of this very malaise that impulses ultimately control us.

The solution is to tame them, even if it hurts, even if they cause anxiety. Anxiety or emotional malaise are nothing more than emotions produced by chemical reactions in the brain, but they do not kill or cause catastrophes. When we learn to control them, we will find that they have a short duration and that their intensity is reduced.

When impulses control us, it is easy to fall into their trap. Being aware of how they work, however, is the big step towards managing our emotions. When we know what happens to us, where it comes from and how we can control it, the hard part is keeping control. With patience and large doses of acceptance of the malaise, it will be possible for us to overcome impulses.

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