top of page

Impulsivity: Action without Thinking

Impulsivity: Action without Thinking

From the time we were young, we have faced unrealized consequences for acting without thinking. Impulsivity will affect how much someone drinks alcohol, uses drugs, makes rash decisions while driving, and engage in distractions. It can generally be attributed to regrets, shame and depression because one suffering from ADHD did not think things through.

Impulse control is a problem for most of the ADD Community. It is generally the first sign of our attention deficit and is more prevalent during childhood than in adulthood. To which, many stop working on their personal willpower skills because they feel as though by maturity alone, they have outgrown those impulsive symptoms. Yet, many adults still feel ambushed by their own impulsive actions. Even as adults, we face demeaning remarks that remind us to we were born with less self-control:

  • Think before we speak.

  • You are so LOUD!

  • Why do you always have to interrupt me?

  • Can you let me tell this story?

  • You have zero patience.

  • What were you thinking!?

Being called out for these ADD symptoms can set the Ego up for ultimate embarrassment. And then… the ADDer is unlikely to face, forgive themselves and own the consequence as a result of the rejection that follows.

What does change look like:

As an adult, it takes courage and a humble heart to face the embarrassing childlike behaviors that were once tolerated, but never really accepted. I have not outgrown this symptom nor do I have complete control over it, but I know how to work on it.

3 Steps to Changing Impulsive Behaviors

1. Know yourself: The only thing you can control in this world is yourself! Therefore, let’s just worry about the thing you can control.

ADHD Triggers – from board games to board rooms, the environment has both spoken and unspoken rules. Make yourself aware of a situation that impulsivity may come out and stay curious about how you can overcome it.

Your triggers – With curiosity, you can find an answer to what sets off your behavior. When do you find yourself at risk? How does boredom, need for attention, action or stimulation play a part? What is an unexpected behavior? How do those consequences work for you?

Bring a bag of Tools: Will you need a book, headphones, game or work to keep you from pacing while your wife tries on clothes? If you yell out comments at a meeting, you can use a notepad to scribble thoughts as they come, then wait till the appropriate time for your comment.

Learn about it: A creative mind can overcome anything. Use your strengths and passion to change to drive your learning in your own growth. I am reading a summary of The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal on (I am too busy for the whole book and I NEED to know how to control myself.) It is providing me with the science behind why we do the impulsive and regrettable behaviors. The best you can give yourself, is to know your own strengths and weaknesses.

2. Forgive yourself – Guilt sucks. It sucks energy, time and emotion away from your future. You may be the only person holding on to a bad experience. Why?

Use Ownership: By acknowledge the situation, accepting the truths and taking action to fix the situation, you have become the owner of your error. If you can’t fix the mistake, at least know you have learned enough about it to not repeat it.

End Negative self-talk: Abria Joseph gave a powerful TED talk targeting youth and reminded them that if they tell themselves that they can’t accomplish a goal, that they should face that goal head on! What you say has amazing power, even if you are only speaking to yourself. He left his speech with this great guideline for self-talk.


I. Is what we speak the Truth?

II. Is it Necessary

III. Does it improve upon the silence?

3. Prepare Yourself with Patience – You aren’t born with it and we can face it, it’s not yet the strongest tool in your kit. But that doesn’t mean that learning patience won’t pay you back if you practice it.

Practice patience: Start with giving yourself permission to take things slowly. Realize that time is on your side. The first principal to learn is to have patience with yourself. You are exactly where you need to be right now. Let go and let time pass. It can help you listen, feel present, learn and/or process thoughts that you may normally miss. It will help you monitor your interruptions, spending, feelings of irritation and stress. Plus, a compliment may come your way😉

Practice mindfulness: Bring attention to the present moment and observe what is happening without judging it. Many know about meditation, which is awesome as it also provides you calmness and the power to be patient. You can apply mindfulness to eating, listening, walking or stretching. (Learn more here) But take it a step further by applying the sense of calmness you feel when seeing an impulse take place. First, observe it in without judgment. You can say, “This is a reaction to my stress, not what I originally intended to do.” Or “This is a mistake I made when not listening carefully. It will only effect this moment.” Then encourage yourself to follow through with action to overcome the trigger. Realizing you have a choice in how you feel can create an empowering feeling. Ownership!

And finally. Reward yourself with a smile. Acknowledge that you are successfully battling one of the hardest symptoms of ADHD to overcome! In order to successfully treat ADHD, it has to start from within.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page