We all know what it feels like to see those cool Nike’s in the window and then think to ourselves, “I’d look nice strolling the streets with those kicks on”. For the general population, this is just a thought that enters and then evacuates our minds when the next big thing appeals to us.
The choice we make to leave those shoes on the rack is due to our impulse control. Sometimes those shoes will get the better of us and we just can’t resist the purchase until it’s too late. This is called impulse buying and normally hits us a little harder when we see the big signs, ‘ON SALE’.
This simple example of impulse control only tends to harm our back pocket. When this becomes more of an issue however is when you are in a social setting, interacting with other people. Even the shopaholics of the world can control what they say to whom and when they choose to say it in a social setting.
Unfortunately for me, and many other injured brains a very common side effect of frontal lobe damage is impulsiveness. When you combine this with a lack of awareness, it can become a bit tricky to resist the urge to tell someone exactly how you feel. It’s very easy to say to me, “Scott, it’s simple, just keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything,” but when I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, that’s where this can get me into strife.
It is a great idea to be aware of the 5 stages of impulsive behavior:
- The impulse arises
- Internal tension increases
- Action on the impulse brings pleasure
- A sense of relief follows
- Guilt or remorse replace pleasure and relief
Now that we’re aware of what’s going on in our injured brain, we can move on to the next step, which is what to do about it.
Restricting impulsive behavior comes down to awareness. We need to be aware of what this behavior looks like in order to stop it and hold it back. This behavior will often be around loved ones and the people that care about us the most, so they will often tell us the difference between right and wrong.
You may feel that you know better than them and that there’s nothing wrong with your behavior but I’m sorry, who’s the one harboring an injured brain, you or them? It is important to understand that they most likely know better than you when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t say to people. I have been told too many times to know that my behavior wasn’t a once off.
I’m lucky because over the years I have been told quite a number of times, by my closest tribe members, that some of my behavior is not the right way to present myself, and I know that I should listen. It’s at a point now, nine years on, that I can feel when that little fire lights up so I can do my best to control it. Don’t get me wrong here, this is not an exact science, I am still saying and doing things quite often that are impulsive but now I know to take the advice on board when it comes around, from others, and to try my hardest to learn from it.
Although 99.9% of the time, my impulsive behavior is unwarranted, it’s not always bad. It was only this morning that my impulsiveness came in handy.
I’ll set the scene: There were a group of workmen on the site next to my house that decided to plug their equipment into the power supply, supplying my hot water unit. I know that, in the past, I would have let that small thing go in order to avoid confrontation. Most likely I would have cursed from a distance in order that make myself feel better. Well on this morning I was trying to decide whether or not to say anything but my impulsiveness was eating me from the inside and screaming at me to speak my mind. I needed to tell them what I thought… right then and there, so without thinking I marched on over there to cause havoc. Now, after years of dealing with this kind of thing in the wrong manner, I was able to politely ask them WTF they were thinking when they decided to use my power for their equipment? Ok, it was more polite than that but I did feel good about the way I dealt with the situation. It really did feel like I was wearing my big boy pants when I confronted them. The situation was calmly resolved and no punches were thrown. This happened because I felt the fire burning away and I needed to put it out.
I have been working on my brain for nearly nine years now and it’s becoming a lot easier to keep my mouth shut or say things in the right manner. I know that in the past, I have burnt quite a few bridges because of the things that I have said to people. Unfortunately, this is just all part and parcel of an injured brain. I do wish that I had have played the game differently at times? Absolutely! Can I change the past? Nope. All I can change is how act in the future. With that, I’ll be signing out but remember, you too can learn from every situation.