Control impulsivity: more impulse control!

What do you think about when you hear the term impulsivity ? Probably to the people who tend to unpredictable and risky acts. Or the people who get angry because of nothingness or just do what they want. In fact, these features can also be signs of impulsiveness, but their true nature shows them in quite different situations ...

Impulsivity Meaning: A definition for impulsive behavior
Impulsiveness Meaning: impulsive behavior in adultsImpulsiveness is a behavior characterized by impatience and the inability to postpone needs .

Impulsive behavior in adults means that they can not adequately control their actions and have low frustration tolerance .

This leads to action from the moment out, without long-term consequences are considered. Of course, many people know a situation in which they once acted unthinkingly and without hesitation. However, in the event of a pulse control interruption, this happens more frequently and above all automatically.


That is, there is an urge; The individual can not or willingly prevent the impulsive action willfully . At the moment when this behavior is somewhat unadapted because it is harmful to oneself or to others, one can speak of a mental disorder.

Impulsivity is a symptom of many neurological disorders. For example, it indicates attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But other mental illnesses such as emotionally unstable personality disorder, including borderline personality disorder , narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder, also show these symptoms.

Those affected distract themselves very quickly from the actual problem, they rather have meaningless conversations or try to get to the next level in a light online game - these occupations are more important and satisfying because they correspond to their current wishes .


Impulsivity: the four characteristics
Impulsivity manifests itself in the rapid reactions of man to his own wishes. There comes to you a thought and you have to execute it immediately. Behavioral psychologists Martial Van der Linden and Mathieu D'acremont have already highlighted four characteristics of impulsivity in the 2005 study Impactivity and Decision Making ( PDF ) :

Urgency : These people want to do it now.
Automatism : You do something without thinking and without planning in advance.
Impatience : You are quickly disappointed by the long-term task.
Attractiveness : You choose the pleasant tasks.
People are impulsive to varying degrees - some more, some less. The difference is the ability to control one's desires . Those who are highly impulsive also have more problems with inner motivation .

They leave a task in which they have invested several weeks of time and energy, themselves, and follow an impulsive desire that gives them positive emotions . The new urgent impetus is a higher priority for them than a problem they have been working on for weeks. In this case, there can be no talk of planning - only what they want now counts .

Impulsivity leads to procrastination
The procrastination you can use a weak wireless signal compare - it is so weak that the website invites an eternity. The metaphor is very simple: they hang for a long time, without the power for the really important things.

Does this situation seem familiar to you? Unfortunately, only a few sufferers know the right way out of it. The difficulty is that while they are deliberately prepared to concentrate on the task and perform it, they can not resist the small distraction factors.

Procrastination manifests itself in many ways, but the basic principle is the same: you postpone unpleasant problems and impulsively do only what you like better and require less effort.

Many people can be distracted by their household, social networks or even a chat over coffee with their colleagues , instead of devoting themselves to important and urgent matters, since these are usually much more unpleasant tasks.

Control impulsivity: What do I do as a colleague?
Control impulsivityBut it's not just the distractions that impulsive people can not resist. Impetus can be really critical in dealing directly with colleagues and partners.

People who are impulsive respond dramatically and / or with violent outbursts of temperament , depending on the situation .

The reasons can be manifold - conceivable are fears of loss, but also craving , such as narcissistic personalities. As is so often the case, the cause is a mixture of genetic predisposition and education.

It becomes difficult for the environment of such people: How do I behave as a colleague when a team member drives out of the skin completely unpredictable ? If your colleague is clearly unable to control his impulsive behavior, then you can interact in a de-escalating way by ...

Take the colleagues seriously
Try to empathize with the other person and be empathetic . Even if his behavior on the outside looks exaggerated and irrational. If you do not signal your understanding of the other position, you provoke anger and injury to your colleague.

Keep calm
When you raise your voice, something can quickly jump up into a fight. But through calm, relaxed acting you also take the drama out of the situation, when your opponent is in a state of excitement and is about to commit a hasty action.

Keep the distance
This can be understood both in terms of content, for example, that one does not take temper tantrums personally, but also literally: avoid being close to this colleague. You can not get along just as well with every type of fellow , but at work you often can not stay out of the way. However, you can spend the lunch break otherwise or limit conversations to the essentials.


Impulsivity: How productivity is affected
Not every impulsive act is automatically bad or harmful. The problem only arises when the person concerned has no grip on his reaction to the impulses . Here's an example to illustrate this:

You are sitting in the office and working on a monthly statement . Suddenly the phone comes to life and you get several messages on Facebook. Of course you extend your hand for a quick look.

The following 30 minutes will go something like this: You open the app and read the notifications. Then you suddenly see a cute picture in the timeline, go to the linked page, read the article completely, come to the comments in which you come across a stupidity, which you in turn want to comment on the fly ...

Then look at the clock and realize that the last 30 minutes have been an absolute waste of time , that you have rushed from one impulse to the next, and did not actually do anything at all.

Do you recognize the four stimuli in this story? These four elements distracted you from work and suddenly everything became more important to you to than the end of the month, which is not exactly exciting, but still needs to be done.

Did you recognize yourself in this story? Then you are like many others too. It's hard to hit the brakes and show yourself in time : this is just a waste of time . This also affects productivity.

The worst part is the snowball effect: If you had ignored the notification directly, the three other stimulus impulses would not have been created. It is best to set the phone silently and completely ignore the notifications .


Train self-control: tips against impulsivity
Dealing with impulsiveness is similar in many ways to dealing with anger . Sometimes it is quite necessary to get angry - but if you lose control , the consequences can be severe.

It's the same with impulsivity - it's a character feature that needs to be controlled. The following methods can help you to train your self-control:

Practice attention and concentration
To be attentive means to focus on one task at a maximum. You know exactly what you are doing, what you think and what the consequences are. Attention requires that you control your own thoughts and so do not give the impulses a chance to control your behavior.

Luckily you can train the attention . If you really have problems with your impulsivity, these exercises will initially seem like torture to you - but they are worth it. Attention is not just a characteristic: it trains the brain for better concentration. Individual concentration exercises can be found here .

Move distraction factors
Your impulsiveness wants to make you believe: If something is not done right away, the chance for it is lost forever. You can avoid this feeling by scheduling a fixed period for these factors during the day. Do you want to distract yourself, do not just say NO , but promise to give in to this impulse a little later . Any experienced procrastinator knows it's easier to postpone than ignore completely.

Take, for example, 30 minutes in which you devote yourself to the heaped distraction factors and enjoy them in a row . After that, you can fully concentrate on the current business and you know that the time for the pleasant little things will come again soon. For the above example with the mobile phone, there is a simple solution: Set the phone in the airplane mode for the duration of the work or at least so that you are not distracted - vulnerability detected and resolved.

to do sports
This advice actually helps in almost all situations. It's all about physical activity - you do not have to become a competitive athlete. Nevertheless, jogging, for example, has proved to be a suitable sport, it is not for nothing that so many managers are jogging: they get their heads out in the open air . In addition, sport demonstrably reduces stress, including tension:

For example, if you have a lot of work to do at work, or if a problem makes you incredibly angry, then at some point you may not be able to think straight. In sports activities, on the other hand, you have to focus on other things like your body and breathing, so that momentary problems take a back seat . Then you can look at many things much more relaxed and distant. That you also do something for your health, is a nice side effect.

Appropriate relaxation techniques
Get to know yourself better. Observe in which situations you react like: When does it become critical? What can you do about it? Sport is, as I said, a possibility. But there are just as many exercises around mindfulness . You can help identify your warning signs when you are about to get out of your skin or make an unwise decision.

Relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation or breathing exercises, can help relieve stress and tension, make things easier to see.

Understanding impulses will help you focus on tedious tasks, even if they are not fun and you can hardly motivate them. Use your strength and energy to turn your thoughts into a river and either not allow the distraction factors or handle them properly.

Depending on how strong the impact of your impulsive behavior and how great your suffering is, you should consider a therapy. In cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, you learn to recognize your behavior patterns and to change them accordingly.

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