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Re: Impulse control, how do you get a handle on it

Re: Impulse control, how do you get a handle on it2011-01-13T04:39:59+00:00

The Forums Forums Tools, Techniques & Treatments Impulse control, how do you get a handle on it Re: Impulse control, how do you get a handle on it


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It took me a very long time, but earlier in my adult life I determinedly trained myself—one type of situation at a time—to hold myself back from speaking or reacting right away. It started with my job. I had decided that I would systematically practice answering with one or more agreeable stock phrases right away whenever a superior spoke to me or asked me to do something. (“OK, let me look that over,” “No problem; when do you want that?” and the comment “Right then.” were my standby answers.)

I made these like a reflex. They gave me time to re-examine and edit my natural response (or to decide better of it altogether). Basically, if it came off the top of my head, I didn’t say it. It almost killed me to keep quiet when funny observations and personal reactions were flying through my head, but I finally developed the habit.

Once I did, my career took a permanent turn for the better, and that encouraged me to train myself in the same habit when speaking with certain relatives who I found generally unpleasant. And it went from there. Now in most situations of consequence, I’m well into the habit of internalizing my first reaction (saying it to myself mentally), then taking the time to turn it over in my head and evaluate whether to let it out or toss it. I’m still floored by how many first-thought responses I toss on examination that I would have just verbalized in the past with disastrous consequences. The technique doesn’t work 100% of the time, but life is a heck of a lot better.

If I’m overcome with an emotional reaction because of some injustice or perceived slight (I still implode when I find myself in any “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” situation), I now recognize a certain tightness in my throat as a signal NOT TO ACT and to exit the situation as soon as possible with as few/nondramatic words as possible. I still find this a challenge every time, because emotional flooding is so damned compelling. But I’ve saved a lot of face over the years and, in memorable cases, been able to return to the injustice at hand and put someone in their place in a classy manner.

When I’m with my friends or when I discover a kindred spirit, particularly other ADDers, that’s when I speak off the top of my head. And I’ll tell you, those moments are like taking a long cool drink of water after a week of thirst. I often lament the lack of fun in holding back my personality a large part of the time, and I don’t always feel like people at work or at large really know me. But it’s WAY better than how it used to be—always kicking myself for things I’d said or feeling ashamed about overreactions I’d had. I’m saying there is a trade-off. But it can be done.