Impulse Control: Why Is It Harder than Ever?
It is so hard to say no when you want to say yes!
Posted Sep 12, 2011
Managing impulses has always been challenging but now it is harder than perhaps ever before. Why?
Research has consistently demonstrated that there are many benefits to being able to manage one's impulses. For example, the famous Stanford marshmallow study asking young preschool children to sit in front of a marshmallow and wait before being able to eat it is a classic example. Those preschoolers who were able to resist their impulse to eat the marshmallow right away were more likely to complete their education, stay married, had better career success and were less likely to have addiction and other troubles decades later.
More and more people today are being diagnosed with impulse control disorders evidenced by the increasing numbers of both children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and addiction diagnoses. So many of the troubles that people get themselves into such as eating and drinking too much, anger management problems, financial ruin, addictions of various kinds, pornography use, relationship infidelity, and the like have impulse control problems at their root.
I wish I had an answer for this problem. I see in so many areas (including among my college students and my clinical patients) tremendous stressors when it comes to managing impulses. So many struggle with these challenges. There seems to be no simple answers. Somehow we need to find a way to say no to things when we want so very much to say yes. We can suggest counting to 10, just say no, and keeping these temptations away by better controlling our environment (e.g., keep the ice creme out of the house) but this advice seems too little too late for many people.
Controlling and managing impulses seems so countercultural today...yet necessary!