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Developing a more 'balanced' response to impulse

I have proposed that if we have underlying anxiety, we are likely to struggle to supress instinctual drives, or 'impulses' when they are stimulated.  I have also suggested that this is one of the 2 maladaptive manifestations resulting from anxiety.  Developing a 'balanced' response to the stimulation of instinctual drives, (or 'impluses) therefore, will be one of the key themes of this website. 

If someone has a tendency to be very impulsive, they will have little experience of the benefits that arise from employing self-control.  Let us draw on the cake eating example above.  Those who have developed little self-control in relation to eating rich foods will typically eat a lot of rich foods when they are presented with such foods, and there is likely to be negative consequences.  Typically, if we eat too much rich food in one sitting, negative effect will follow, i.e. although we enjoy eating the rich food at the moment we eat it, there will be a corresponding negative feeling after we have finished the food.  This negative feeling will often be greater for the anxious person than for the less anxious person, since incoming feelings are less easy for the impulsive individual to control.  For some people, there will also be the annoying side-effect of weight increase as a result of eating a lot of rich foods. 

However, if such an individual were to force herself to be self-controlled in relation to some particular action (in, for example, the above 'cake eating' situation outlined above) and therefore experience the resulting benefits of such self-control, this would be a first step with regard to strengthening her control of impulse.  If she also took the time to reflect on the enjoyment received as a result of this employment of self-control then she would be beginning to condition her brain to recognise the benefit of self-control.  If this exercise is repeated enough times an individual will eventually condition her brain to readily recognise and perceive the increased benefit resulting from self-control.

The most difficult aspect of this process is forcing oneself to endure the pain involved in the initial withholding of impulse.  In some cases this can be prove excruciatingly difficult.  But the more times we go through the process of applying impulse control to different actions requireing the control of impulse, the easier it becomes to begin the process when applying it to new areas of our lives. 

A cautionary note: Deal with the easiest impulses first!

Typically, anxious individuals will have a specific type of impulse that presents particular difficulties in terms of supressing.  The individual may seem particularly self-controled in relation to supressing of some impulses (she may well be applying 'ego-restriction' or 'isolation' as outlined above), but her instinctual impulses may well have habitually found expression in one particular area.  This area becomes a channel for her underlying supressions and she becomes 'addicted'.  If such a situation has arisen, I suggest that this area of 'addiction' now constitutes quite an integral mechanism of expression of 'drive' for this individual, and attempting to lift this addiction may be akin to attempting to erradicate the underlying 'root' problem: the two are integrally related.  I therefore suggest that such a core 'addiction' is possibly not a good place to begin to attempt to learn the skill of 'impulse control'.  In fact, if such an 'addiction' is extremely deep-rooted, I suggest that it may take years of experience of learning to regulate impulse before enough 'impulse-regulation' has developed in order that the core addition begins to lose its grip.  In fact, if enough work is done in relation to learning the benefits of better regultation of impulse, it may be that as the years pass, the core 'addiction' begins to lift quite naturally, since the brain begins to instinctively understand that overly absorbing itself in impulse gratification actually is integrally tied up with other negative consequences.