Taming Your Impulsivity
There are two components of self control. The first is to do with self-monitoring, which is keeping track of your thoughts, feelings, and resulting behaviours. The second is to do with your standards. Standards are determined through how you categorize how certain things for you are either desirable or undesirable. In order to be able to change your standards you have to be able to change your attitude to behaviours you do not want.
There are two things that are in control of us when a lapse in your self-control occurs. The first thing is to do with opportunity. Opportunity is an act of impulsivity and is not based in a plan, and generally speaking, when it is that lapses occur are when you are intoxicated or fatigued or both. Being intoxicated means not being of sound mind. Generally speaking, when we start to drink we lower our inhibitions, we get into our emotions, and we start to act by impulse. We lose our ability to monitor and we lose our ability to get in touch with our standards. Now, intoxication does not have to be either drugs or alcohol, have you ever ‘heard drunk on love’? It is when you are experiencing an emotional high and the same thing happens, you get out of touch with monitoring and out of touch with maintaining your standards. It is permission giving, to lose self- control.
The second factor that makes you more impulsive is when you are mentally fatigued. This is what happens when people come home from work at night, they just want to relax, let go, not have to maintain control like they did all day. The truth is we have limited amounts of self-control energy, and if you are losing your limited amount of self-control energy during the day and are mentally fatigued by the time you get home at night, then you are more apt to be impulsive. Night fatigue equals night eating disorder.
The next factor is how much positive versus negative feedback you are receiving either to do with work life, commuting life, or family life. When your positive feedback is depleted then also is self-control and when this happens we actually have the unfortunate occurrence of becoming more aggressive. People who have a more aggressive personality have a bigger reward centre of their brain called the striatum and also are not getting in touch with their prefrontal cortex in order to be able to make plans. With this combination of brain activity your emotional need to care for yourself is being interrupted. Your emotional care system is saying ‘something is going wrong, and I have to do something to fix it.’
Aggressive behaviour does not have to be lashing out at others, it can also be lashing out at yourself. Overeating or just plain eating unhealthy food is a self-harm strategy and rumination, meaning constantly thinking about negativity, or not getting what you want, or focussing on the next food source, depletes your mental energy, making you mentally fatigued and wears your self-control energy out.
So how to build self control strength.
Using bilateral stimulation, meaning to alternate between the left and right hand side of your body, engages your brain creating a sense of grounding, reduces aggressive inclination, and helps build resilience. This means to use your non-dominant hand, just like we discussed with the Emotionally Focussed Cleansing Therapy, your left hand with the soap and your right hand with the soap on different sides of your body.
Next is to be able to maintain your metabolic energy. Low blood sugar is hypoglycaemia and when a person is eating their go to food of carbohydrates in order to be able to feel better then they are actually depleting themselves of energy as well as increasing inflammation. So put the carbs aside, including your fruits and veg and concentrate on those proteins! When you get home from work go for the proteins and get your energy from your proteins which decreases aggressive inclinations, and will allow you to tame your impulsivity as well as remain in control.