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Impulse Control Techniques

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson talks about impulse control issues and how they can be changed into positive behaviors by using a few simple techniques. The concepts of immediate gratification and delayed gratification are also discussed as they relate to impulse control.

Ability with Little Motivation

The problem was that Gary never seemed to get anywhere. No matter how hard he tried to succeed in life, he continued to fail. In high school, his teachers regarded him as one of their brightest students. Unfortunately, he made middling grades because he never finished assignments and he didn't like to study. He managed to get a college education, but he took courses that he could breeze through. He rarely challenged himself, and that attitude continued when he joined the workforce. He worked in a string of entry-level jobs. Although he had the mental acuity (sharpness) to do well, he lacked the motivation. Gary was a chronic procrastinator who rarely finished projects on time and was always willing to let other members of the team do his share of the work.

What is Impulse Control?

Every decision has two primary motivators. Either the person making the decision will decide to make a decision based on ease or one that will provide the best outcome. Getting the best outcome does not always mean that the road is difficult, but it often times is. An individual with impulse control issues will most often choose the outcome that is the easiest to accomplish rather than the one that would be a better long-term choice. It is often a choice between instant gratification and delayed gratification.

Gratification is the pleasure that is derived from a particular decision choice. For instance, if you choose not to study for an exam, you will be able to watch the latest Mission Impossible flick. However, if you delay watching the movie and instead study and make a good grade, the long-term outcome of that decision is more positive. Delayed gratification is generally the better choice, but it is also not the choice someone with impulse control problems makes.

How to Achieve Impulse Control

Changing a habit is not easy, but in the end, it is worth it. Gary knew that if he was to gain some measure of success, he would have to work to overcome his inability to delay gratification. So, he took the advice of a therapist and tried to find a technique that worked for him. His counselor told him the following:

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