How often do you fail in your attempts to change a behavior? Do you continue to try but end up feeling more frustrated? Are you hard on yourself for not being able to implement a healthier life? Whether you are talking about changing eating habits, quitting smoking, implementing exercise, setting boundaries, building self-esteem/confidence or other positive changes, it is really difficult to alter behaviors; it takes self-control.
Self-control is essential to the success of impulse control. Impulse control or being able to overcome cravings for whatever you are trying to alter is key to manifesting a healthier you. We’ve all been there; it’s part of life to grow, evolve and create better versions of ourselves. Your goal to overcome unhealthy behaviors is worthy of the work it takes to be successful. And, although you may feel you are continually failing, motivation and practice is key to ridding yourself of bad habits.
WebMD.com offers insight communicated by Alison Zollars Arthur. She describes what is going on in our heads when we’re triggered and reaching, for example, for junk food. In her words, “That “voice” is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that handles planning, making choices, and suppressing urges. It coordinates with another region of the prefrontal cortex called the right orbitofrontal cortex, an area involved in regulating emotions. When you encounter a potential reward, these areas of the brain do some quick math to determine whether you’ll be better off going for it or putting your energy toward a bigger payoff later.” Mark N. offers, “Often, one is faced with small immediate rewards versus larger delayed rewards. Individuals who choose to wait for larger delayed rewards are typically seen as less impulsive.” It seems the trick is to be proactive as apposed to reactive.
WebMD.com explains, “Impulsivity has two main characteristics: rapid, unplanned reactions and reduced concern for the consequences of actions. Clearly, poor impulse control can have all sorts of negative effects on your life, Potenza says. For example, being unable to control your anger can lead to problems at work and with your family.”
It is important to use this voice in your head to benefit your efforts by continually rationalizing why you are working to change the behavior (the big picture) and to setup rewards for your small successes along the way (help in the moment), this can energy your motivation. Each time you fail your attempt, self-analyze why and plan to overcome this sabotaging obstacle so it doesn’t cause defeat during the next go around! Keep the faith; you can develop impulse control. You’ve heard it in this column before, it can take 21 to 30 days to create a habit; don’t give up on you!
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