Impulsive /m-ˈpəl-siv/ adjective
Doing things or tending to do things suddenly and without careful thought; acting or tending to act on impulse; done suddenly and without planning; resulting from a sudden impulse.
I am VERY impulsive a lot of the time. Shopping, whoa mama! Eating, you betcha! I do those things without thinking and without planning. A thought enters my mind and I act on it. Zip, zop, done and done.
I struggle to keep myself in check. And you know what? A lot of my behavior is done to make myself feel better. But you know what else? It usually makes me feel worse. Maybe not immediately, but always within a few hours.
I’ve been talking with my therapist about my impulsivity. We decided that whenever I go out to a store I need a list. On that list is everything I am going to buy on that trip. And if it isn’t on the list I don’t get to buy it—at that time.
Take my recent trip to Michael’s. I went to purchase supplies for a craft I was planning for Sunday School. While in Michael’s I decided I needed new charcoal and a bright lamp for on my easel. I left Michael’s spending $99. I only needed about $20 worth of craft supplies, but I didn’t have a set list and I acted on impulse.
With this new plan I will sit down and consciously plan out and write out exactly everything that I need at the store I am going to. As I’m walking around the aisles if I see something that is not on my list, no matter how badly I want to buy it, I cannot buy it. What I can do is start a new list, on the next page of the notebook, and put the item on the list. This way I don’t need to worry about forgetting what it is that I want to buy (which, hello, if I really need the item I will not forget about it) and I can walk away and mull over the purchase for at least a day. So the back of my planner (I use an Erin Condren Life Planner. Click here for $10 off your first purchase) I am going to write my lists. I mean, when I go food shopping I never go without a complete and detailed list, why should any other shopping be any different?
What else can I say? I am trying to remember to take three breaths BEFORE doing anything. Nothing is life and death in my life. I do not have the key codes for nuclear weapons. I am not performing life saving surgery. I am just me. And I need to remember that and remember that I can always go back, I can always return, to the item or food at hand. There will always be a second chance, and probably a third and a fourth, to purchase or eat the item in my sights.
What are some tricks of your trade that you use to avoid knee jerk, unthinking reactions? I’d love to know.