Psychological techniques for controlling impulses – health and well-being

Our impulsiveness can lead us to make decisions that we may regret for the rest of our lives. Discover these seven strategies and learn to control your emotions at your convenience.

Do you often regret your actions? Do you feel that some powerful force is directing your behavior? Perhaps you should learn to control the impulses that lead you to react in this or that way, without consciously choosing it.

Impulsivity is not always bad. Rather it depends on the situation. For example, if you’re shy and through some unexpected act you decide to ask someone you like out… congratulations! But if you overconsume because of your impulses, get violent with your friends or say terrible things to your partner, it stops being a skill and becomes a problem.

Regulating emotions involves a difficult task that requires training in self-control and constant practice. Without a doubt, good emotional management makes a difference to our well-being. We share with you a series of psychological techniques that will help you take control of your life.

Strategies for Learning to Control Impulses

Psychology has developed many techniques and strategies to increase our ability to control our impulses, whether focused on the background of the situation or on reacting to it.

Psychologist Marsha Linehan, a pioneer in dialectical behavior therapy, has devoted much of her work to providing valuable tools for emotional and behavioral regulation.

1. Admit the problem

First things first: You should know that the techniques will make sense as long as you recognize that you have a problem controlling impulses and decide to take action to reverse it.

This involves being aware of when you act impulsively and what negative effects it can have on different areas of your life. Once you recognize the need for change, it is important that you commit to yourself.

2. Identify the origin of impulses

Similarly, it is also important to identify the reasons behind the appearance of impulses. For example, if you recognize that certain behaviors are associated with anxiety, you can focus on treating it and, in parallel, you will work on regulating your emotions. In turn, by paying attention to triggers you will be able to anticipate them and develop specific strategies.

3. Learn to tolerate discomfort

How easy it is to say! You are right, it is much more complicated to put into practice. But not impossible. We invite you to try it.

Acquiring discomfort tolerance tools is essential to manage intense emotions, without resorting to impulsive behavior. Marsha Linehan, highlights the following:

Radical Acceptance:

This technique involves accepting emotions and experiences without judging them as good or bad. It’s about becoming attuned to the idea that discomfort is part of the human experience, and therefore inevitable.

This does not mean that we should endure pain or not seek positive change in our lives. Radical acceptance means, rather, to stop resisting or fighting what bothers us, but that we cannot change.


Distracting yourself helps reduce the intensity of emotions. This way, you can consciously choose your actions. The goal is to reduce the emotional heat and allow you to view the situation with more distance and rationality.

You can apply this strategy when you find yourself overwhelmed with an emotion, such as anger, and you notice impulsive behavior coming. Try doing some activity that is enjoyable for you and helps you overcome what you feel. For example: calling a trusted friend, going for a walk, watering the plants, or reading a book.


Another great option to tolerate discomfort and thus control impulses is to apply relaxation and mindfulness techniques. Connecting with your five senses will provide you with emotional relief. Pay attention to what you can see, hear, touch and you will see how everything changes.

You can also include other activities that bring you peace. Such as listening to music that relaxes you, taking a hot bath, walking in a park or nature reserve and observing everything around you. Or just take a deep breath.

4. Stop and think

The Stop technique is another useful strategy proposed within the framework of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. In this case, people are taught to stop and evaluate the long-term consequences of their actions before acting impulsively.

The Stop tool encourages reflection and conscious decision making rather than reacting automatically.

To implement this, simple steps need to be followed:

Stop: The moment you feel the urge to react impulsively, for example verbally attacking your partner or buying an expendable product in the market, stop physically.

Take a step back: Literally and symbolically, distance yourself from the situation to gain a broader, more objective perspective.

Observe: Give yourself some time to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Watch with curiosity what happens.

Proceed and decide with awareness: Proceed with conscious observation, evaluate the consequences of your actions, and make informed decisions rather than impulsively.

5. Choose the battles you want to fight

It is clear that there are some intolerable situations in which it is your right and duty to protect your integrity. No one should accept any form of disrespect, insult or abuse.

However, throughout the day we face a variety of small and insignificant situations that bother us more than we would like. To avoid resorting to unnecessary impulsive behaviors, it is essential that you learn to choose your battles. Ask yourself, do I want to invest energy and time in this matter? Is it worthwhile for me? Don’t forget that sometimes it is better to have peace than to be right.

6. Facing problems

This strategy is the most difficult because it involves solving the problem that is bothering you. In this case, what you should do is replace thinking with action. It’s not about punishing yourself by telling yourself how bad you feel, but about focusing on options to resolve it.

To do this you can ask yourself questions like: What is the problem about? Does it have anything to do with my job, my partner, my friends? What do I want to achieve? What paths are there to achieve what I want? What is the healthiest option?

By answering, you will gain the information needed to make informed decisions about the problem and implement a coping plan. Keep in mind that the more concrete and detailed the plan of steps to be followed to perform a specific task, the greater the chances of success.

7. Reward your desired behavior

Positive reinforcement is also a good way to encourage self-control. Rewards can be good incentives for new adaptive behaviors.

Think about how you can reinforce yourself with attractive rewards, such as giving yourself a few moments of leisure or going to your favorite coffee shop. You know yourself better than anyone; Use what you know about yourself to reward yourself when you perform as expected.

Difference between acting and reacting

Acting out means intentionally abandoning the behavior we want and have chosen. From this position we control our emotions and our actions. After considering options and possible outcomes, we choose what to say or do.

Instead, when we react, we give up our personal power. We drop the rudder and become carried away by our emotional intensity. Actions and words become uncontrolled, because we have handed power over to an impulse.

Let’s do it!

Do you dare to put these strategies into practice today? Don’t lose sight of your life’s goal and the moment you feel an emotional tsunami approaching, stop and apply these techniques to learn to control your impulses. With dedication and effort, you will get out of the trap you find yourself trapped in today, believe in yourself!

The mind is amazing.-

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