Impulse disorder is described as having the sudden urge to take action without thinking about the consequences of what you are doing. Impulses take place from one to a few seconds, whereas urges build up over more extended periods. Both can drive you toward “wrong” behaviours you can’t resist, such as stealing, having unsafe sex, or yelling at someone.
It can be a tremendous challenge to live with impulse disorder. After all, you can’t get rid of the impulse. Moreover, you may feel like you are being controlled by an “evil” force within you. The good news is that you can treat it.
1. Consider CBT for Your Disorder
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one treatment you can use to help manage impulsive behaviours. It involves counselling and cognitive restructuring. When you have a sudden urge, you can learn how to challenge the irrational thoughts behind the impulse.
CBT also includes learning how to change your behaviour to more positive consequences. In other words, you can stop engaging in the short-term behaviour that makes you feel better but has adverse effects over time.
However, it’s vital to know that CBT isn’t a magic pill that you can take to eliminate unwanted thoughts. Instead, it’s a set of techniques that help you manage your thoughts and feelings.
2. Make a Chart to Document Your Behaviours
To better understand your triggers and behaviours, you can record your behaviours when your impulses strike. This is known as a compulsion record. When you have the urge to indulge in a whim, you can write down the urge and then revisit the data when you have some distance from the experience.
This will help you see whether some common causes or conditions trigger your behaviours or if there is a pattern to the type of behaviour you engage in. In doing so, you can target your management strategies to be most effective.
3. Learn How to Deal with Your Urges
Cognitive restructuring is another important technique for dealing with impulses. As noted, it’s the thought process that can trigger an urge. You can learn how to identify when you are having these thoughts and how to challenge them.
For instance, if you think, “I have to have a beer,” but know that you have work the next day, you won’t be able to function; you can challenge the thought. From there, you can ask yourself what is essential. You may realize that you have more important things to do than drink alcohol. Then, you can substitute positive and realistic thoughts with impulsive and irrational thoughts.
Impulse disorder is challenging, especially because you can’t control the impulse. However, if you understand what is going on, you can work to manage your impulse disorder. The above strategies can help you deal with your impulses and not suffer the consequences of acting on them. If not, you can consult a psychologist to help you deal with impulse disorder.
Virtuous Circle Counselling provides high-quality and reliable CBT therapy in Calgary. We have psychologists that can help you deal with impulse disorder. Contact us to schedule your first appointment if you are struggling with impulsive behaviour.