Random Thoughts: Remedy for impulsivity/compulsion

Recently I have been exploring how to teach both kids and the grownups alike how to curb impulsivity and other addictive/compulsive behaviors.

I came up with something that seems to work quite well, even for my 6-year-old who is learning how not to hit when angry, and my 9-year-old (and lots of people a lot older than 9!) how not to yell and get aggressive when angry.

That impulsive rush to action or aggressivity has “too much yang” written all over it. Usually there is is too much yang going around long before someone acts impulsively, but it can come up suddenly too.

So I came up with something very simple, which I find works for my daughter when she is angry, and it works for me when I would rather eat chocolate that do or feel something unpleasant. I call it the “stop-feel-talk” method.

First, to curb impulsivity, one must develop awareness of “going too fast” – we need to insert a moment of pause, which creates the possibility for making a choice instead of rushing ahead without thinking. If we tell ourselves to “stop” (for just a moment, or for longer), then freedom and maturity can grow out of that moment of yin-calm.

The second step is to “Feel”. Feel your body, and feel what feelings are underneath that drive to action. Is it really anger that wants expressing, or it is fear, or sadness, or another feeling?

Last, we “Talk”. It is not easy to find words for that feeling, but it feels so much better than lashing out when angry. This takes practice, and sometimes we need to be taught how to put words to what our body is feeling. But by putting those bodily feelings and emotions into words, we can communicate them to others. This often resolves a disagreement or argument in a yin-way: quietly, calmly, and often even more powerfully than a blast of yangy domination.

This same “Stop-Feel-Talk” method works very well for addictive or compulsive behaviors. Behind every compulsion is a body feeling and a trigger; if we can bring those out of the unconscious mind and into the world of words, we can start having choices about whether to act on the impulse to feed the addiction or not.

Wishing you freedom, peace and harmony,

Golden Eagle Feather




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