Do you find it hard to stay on track when someone is talking to you? When people are talking to you, you get an idea in your head, and you may want to get that idea across. You get so excited about it that you want to express it. The problem with this is that you don’t realize how intrusive this is. It can annoy people and make you seem very rude.
It can also be that sometimes you say things you don’t mean and later regret saying them. This is because you didn’t think of future consequences or how you might come across to people. If you identify with these traits, you might have impulse control disorder. In this, you will have an urge or the temptation to say or do things in the heat of the moment. The waiting period will be full of anxiety, as if something will explode if you don’t react.
There is immediate satisfaction once you have committed to the activity. The huge sense of relief at that moment disregards the long-term negative consequences there might be to it. This inability to resist the urges may be a sign of a hyperactive-impulsive presentation of ADHD.
Since this limits your ability to control your actions, you could face severe consequences. Overcoming these urges isn’t easy. But it is possible to manage them with the right tools and some effort. A mental health care professional can help you with a treatment plan for your issues. Timely measures can improve the quality of your life.
Disorders Related to Impulse Control
There are five types of impulse control disorders as listed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. Others are similar to it. They are as follows:
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder: This involves repeated outbursts of anger. People suffering from this often lash out in a hostile or violent manner. This may even result in injury to others or destruction of property. The period before the outburst is usually full of anxiety, nervousness, and stress. The post-lashing-out period may make one feel embarrassed, shocked, or regretful. Along with verbal aggression, the impulsive episode may also contain threats for others.
- Conduct Disorder: This is only diagnosed in children or teens up to age eighteen. The disorder involves a frequent violation of social norms. There is a repeated breach of the rights and well-being of others. The episodes include chronic rule-breaking and anger outbursts. The aggression may take any form, including fighting or bullying. Even children and animals may find themselves at the end of it.
Children may indulge in activities like substance abuse, skipping school, and running away from home. Theft, vandalism, and other such criminal behavior may also be part of these impulsive episodes.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): This condition is defined by disobedience, defiance, and hostility toward parents and other authority figures. This also is usually diagnosed in young children. A child must exhibit the following signs and symptoms with at least one more person other than their sibling. Also, the child should be consistent with it for at least six months. Signs and symptoms of this disorder are as follows:
- Refusal to follow directions or obey adults
- Difficulty making friends and maintaining those friendships
- Throwing temper tantrums frequently
- Often getting in trouble at school
- Easy to anger, irritate
- Quick to jump to arguments
- It may develop into antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. In this, the individual lacks empathy. Affected individuals also tend to establish a pattern of manipulation, recklessness, and criminality.
- Kleptomania: This is pathological or compulsive stealing. People with this condition have the urge to steal things they don’t even want or have no value of. The person struggles to resist those urges. The act of stealing is not out of necessity or personal monetary gain. The person might even discard or return the stolen item.
When an individual with this disorder is under stress, they feel the only way to relieve themselves is by stealing. Post-theft, they have an immediate sense of relief and pleasure.
- Pyromania: In this disorder, one has this repeated urge to set things on fire. The intention behind burning things is not to take revenge or any other personal gain. The sole reason behind the act is to witness the start of a fire or learn how to control it. People affected by this are fascinated with anything related to fire. Like Kleptomania, individuals suffering from this disorder have a build-up of stress only relieved by committing arson. Watching things burn gives them an immediate sense of joy.
- Pathological gambling: Gambling addiction can cause you and the people around you severe stress. The impulse to gamble at your first chance can be financially draining. This affects an individual’s personal and professional life. It risks an individual in not only a financial aspect but also a social aspect. They risk losing relations, jobs, homes, and savings. The vicious circle of gambling is to recover your losses by gambling more. Compulsive gamblers find themselves stuck in this circle, causing more profound, more grave damage. The losses can sometimes be irreversible.
- Trichotillomania: This is an impulsive condition in which an individual pulls out their hair. The consequence is severe hair loss that may even require the usage of wigs or hats to cover up the scalp. The affected individual may not necessarily pull out hair from the scalp. Arms, legs, eyebrows, eyelashes, and even pubic areas can all be targets of this impulsive disorder. The act is down to the individual feeling stressed or anxious. But unlike other disorders of this category, committing the act doesn’t bring any sense of relief. Instead, it brings in more stress and anxiety.
1. Be Familiar With What Triggers You
The first step to avoiding impulsive behavior is to figure out what triggers it. Driving by a casino or watching something burn is not a trigger.
A trigger is what makes you anxious. It could be different for all individuals. For some, it might be being micromanaged at your workplace. While for others, having deadlines could make them stressed. Anything that builds up anxiety will urge you to engage in impulsive behavior to relieve that stress.
Once you identify your trigger, you can work on controlling it. Try and catch that stress before it gets big on you. Think outside the initial reaction. Avoid pondering on that triggering point immediately. Distract yourself from something else and address that incident later with more self-control.
2. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
To manage something, it’s important to understand how it functions. Since your impulsivity differs from others, you must take mental notes and keep an inventory. This will help you work out a system that works best for you. The following questions can help you build a base:
- How does your impulsivity manifest?
- What are the common consequences?
- Where and when are you most impulsive?
Once you have a basic understanding, you can try and be more self-aware. Focusing on the present moment and observing things around you without judging. Figuring out how your thoughts, urges, and emotions work when you are impulsive is the setting stone. You cannot understand it in a normal state. Only when you are going through the phase can you pick up the signs.
Eventually, with practice, you’ll be able to identify the urges and avoid giving in. Mindfulness will help you distance yourself from those urges and act on them rationally rather than emotionally. You can also identify and practice different ways you can stop impulsive behavior.
Document how successful or unsuccessful you were. What you wanted to do, and what you ended up doing? If it goes well, keep it up. If it doesn’t, don’t get discouraged. Be compassionate and encouraging toward yourself. The only way to tackle impatient behavior is by being patient.
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3. Try Different Relaxation Techniques
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to keep your emotions and urges in check. It does a fantastic job of calming your nerves and releasing stress. Meditation is not only good for increasing concentration but also helps you to self-regulate. Focusing on all your senses will ensure you are more in control of them. It also makes you more self-aware about your behavior patterns.
Your understanding of thoughts and feelings, both good and bad, become better. This lets you recognize the emotional and unproductive state of mind. Thus, allowing you to be more in control of your actions.
Other relaxation techniques could be listening to music, deep breathing and reading. Not only do these activities distract you from stressful situations. They also allow you to look at them from a distance. This ensures that your emotional urges are not allowed to take over.
Certain emotion management skills like self-care and mindfulness practices can also help you regulate your emotions better.
4. Make it Harder For You to Act on Impulses
Creating external barriers to keep your impulses in check can also work for certain conditions. If you are an alcoholic, give the key to your liquor cabinet to someone responsible. This will be an obstacle, and each time you go to them for the key, it will bring a realization that otherwise might not have been there.
If you are a compulsive shopper, carry only a limited amount of cash. This will ensure that you don’t go on a spending spree. Try to determine what obstacle will work best for you and your condition. Take help from friends or family to ensure implementation, if needed.
5. Take a Moment to Consider the Consequences
Reflect on everything that followed when you last gave in to your urges. You will realize that things didn’t go well. The next one probably won’t be any better. Think of how your actions will affect your life and those around you. If your commitment will lead to regret and shame, then you shouldn’t pursue it.
Now, we are not asking you to restrict yourself. Just be more thoughtful and considerate about the consequences.
6. Create a Plan Ahead of Time
Brainstorm ways of managing, mitigating and avoiding your most troublesome triggers. Create a plan for all your triggers. Be open to coming up with new strategies. If one fails, keep a backup plan or revisit it.
Take to other people with similar conditions. Find out what helped them cope. Take ideas from them and implement them in your creative way. You can also use online forums to guide you.
7. Seek Professional Help
It can be hard for others to understand what you are going through. They might think of you as rude. They may disregard your anxiousness as disdain. As mentioned earlier, fighting this requires patience and compassion.
Harsh opinions of others may make it worse for you. In such cases, seek professional help. A trained therapist can provide you with constant support and an unbiased perspective. They can analyze your situation better and provide you with a treatment plan that accelerates your recovery.
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If you find it challenging to manage your emotions and cope with your impulses on your own, or if they hinder your professional and social life, it is time for you to get in touch with a specialist. Schedule an appointment with our counselors to equip yourself with evidence-based strategies.
Our therapists will examine your condition and provide you with constant support throughout your recovery. Recovery takes time and practice. Don’t worry. Our team is there for you in this process. Get in touch with the best mental health professionals by visiting our website.