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Controlling Your Impulses – What To Do When Temptation is Calling Your Name?

Decision Making is the fourth area that contributes to emotional intelligence. This is about how we use the information our emotions provide to make decisions.

These competencies make up the Decision Making area of the model:

  • Problem Solving
  • Reality Testing
  • Impulse Control

Let’s finish examining the third competency under the Decision Making Composite and discuss Impulse Control – the ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive, or temptation to act.

Have you ever waited in line to pay for your groceries, seen a chocolate bar and without thinking, bought it? Well, that was you reacting on an impulse.

It’s important to recognize if you suffer from a lack of impulse control.

Ask yourself:

  • When making decisions, do you let your emotions cloud your judgment?
  • Can you easily stay objective in situations when emotions are high?
  • Are you able to control your impulses during these times?

After you answered these simple three questions, do you get the sense that you may struggle with resisting temptation?

Here are a few simple tricks to improve your impulse control.

1.     Stop and Think

When an impulse arises, we tend to respond immediately, leaving us no time to stop and think about what we are doing.  Once you have stopped, it is important to think about your feelings toward the situation, before taking action.

2.     Know Your Goals – What are the Risks?

We all have ‘guilty pleasures’ – those activities we do, that we know aren’t good for us but these events provide a great escape away from our day-to-day grind.  Guilty pleasures, feel great in the moment, but they can make us loose focus and steer us away from our goals. In addition, it’s equally important to be aware of the potential set backs and/or risks that can arise when you give into your impulses.

3.     Stay Positive

Staying positive sounds easier than it looks. Like I said, we have all given into our impulses at least once in our lives – it’s ok we are only human! Just because we did it once, doesn’t mean we will do it all of the time. It is very common that if and when someone gives into an impulse, they often get discouraged about their set back, and because of their disappointment in themselves, never achieve their goals.

Quick Tip – Share your big temptations with a trusted friend.  They can help you stay on track when your enticement is calling your name.  Remember the will power and strength of two is better than one!

So there you have it, three simple tricks to keep in mind when trying to resist or delay a temptation to act.

1.     Stop and Think

2.     Know Your Goals – What are the Risks?

3.     Stay Positive

If this post has you curious and you’d like to learn more, watch my video on my Leading with Emotional Intelligence training programs (training programs are available in both face-to-face and online delivery formats).

Join me next time as I begin to break down the final emotional intelligence area, Stress Management, and explore the first competency in this area, flexibility.

Learn more about emotional intelligence in my previous blogs:


Carolyn Stern

Carolyn Stern specializes in helping professional women get unstuck, maximize their potential and achieve more. She is a successful entrepreneur, self-development professional, author, university professor, corporate trainer and coach, as well as a Certified Emotional Intelligence Facilitator/Instructor.

See all posts by Carolyn

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