Impulse Management

A very effective approach is to TEACH A PROCEDURE.

The conversation sounds something like the following:

Every time you stick your foot out to trip your friend as he passes your desk, you become a victim of your impulse. Do you really want to go through life being a victim? If you want to be a victor, rather than a victim, then let’s establish a procedure so that when you get that impulse again, you can redirect it. For example, picture your foot glued to the floor. That image will prompt you to reflect the next time your friend passes your desk. It will help you make a choice to be in control, rather than becoming a victim of your impulse.

The most effective approach to handle impulses is to redirect the thought process. For example, if a young person is displaying anger at you, ask, “Are you angry at me or at the situation?” This question prompts the person to reflect. The anger dissipates because you have redirected thinking, and emotions always follow cognition.

A simple technique to use with young people is to spread out your hands and have the youth count backwards with you: “10, 9, 8 etc.” By the time you have reached number “1,” the emotion will have dissipated because you have redirected the person’s attention.

The same redirection approach can be used by looking at the Impulse Management poster below:

Impulse Management POSTERS

Impulse Management CARDS

At the onset of a negative emotion, take a GASP of breath (the red on the traffic signal). Think of a few thoughts that come to mind to redirect your thoughts (yellow on the traffic signal). Go with your best choice (green on the traffic signal).

Remember that the only way to change an emotion is to redirect your thoughts or change your behavior—in which case your thoughts will automatically be redirected.