A tendency to act without forethought or due consideration of consequences is defined as being impulsive which can then be divided into impulsive action (unplanned or premature motor responses) and impulsive choice (preference for immediate over delayed gratification).
Impulsivity is often associated with emotional regulation which is only fully developed in adults when they are in the 20s with there being difficulty in regulating the energy of sensations both going into and out of a person.
The environment in which we live is geared up to bombard with emotional messages that are literally nudging us all to have it now not later, to indulge rather than wait, to ‘treat’ and to reward without there being a real reason to do so. This is especially used to console ourselves for bad days, bad weeks and bad years.
There is no need to feel pain – buy this, eat this, drink this, go there, we have a solution for everything.
However, impulsivity does not come without a cost. It is an action contained within the Limbic System our emotional centre and unless it is controlled by our logical parts of the brain – the executive function of the pre-frontal cortex – we will become ever more impulsive and make decisions without seemingly thinking and all to avoid perceievd harm, loss or pain.
Impulsivity and the inability to control it have a relationship with emotional unwellness.
Look at the most used measure on impulsivity below and answer the questions to guage where you are on the impulsivity spectrum.
To score your answers add up the corresponding numbers that you have circled – the following questions are reversed scored so if you circled 4 change it 1, 3 change it to 2, and vice versa: 1,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,29,30.
The scores range from 30-120 and the higher the score the more impulsive you are with it being proposed that scores over 70 being patholigical impulsivity.
Be aware of the cues in your environment as they are ruthlessly inviting all of us to be impulsive and regret later our actions. It is not you, it is your environment, it is deliberately set up and manipulated to make delayed gratification harder.
Think about that.