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9 Ways Mature People Deal With Negative Impulsive Thoughts

9 Ways Mature People Deal With Negative Impulsive Thoughts

Most of our days are filled with random thoughts. We have thousands of thoughts per day. Many of those thoughts we are facing are negative impulsive thoughts. Deepak Chopra was quoted in an article about meditation, saying that we may have between 60,000 – 80,000 different thoughts per day. How many of those are negative thoughts?

Sometimes the negative thoughts are impulsive, intrusive, and overpowering. Sometimes we act on those thoughts that do not seem like “us” or part of our character and we deeply regret it later. It could be something as simple as blurting out the first critical word to your best friend, really losing control with your children by screaming or yelling, or even something more. It could also be taking a financial risk that you know is not the best decision, or something like feeling the need to drink more than you should, or use drugs because of those negative impulsive thoughts.

We are unable to control our thoughts, but we do have the power and ability to control how we react to and deal with our thoughts, especially negative impulsive thoughts. Here are 9 ways mature people deal with negative impulsives.

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1. They use the H.A.L.T. method. 

The thought could be, “Go shopping and buy that outfit”, even when they don’t have the extra money. It could be, “Go eat that big fat greasy cheeseburger”, even when they are trying to eat healthy. For someone that struggles with addiction issues, the thought could be, “Just go stop off at that convenience store right now and buy a beer.” The thought for a really stressed out parent at the end of their patience could be, “These kids are so unruly right now, just spank the living you know what out of them.” People that have lived with negative thought patterns their entire lives, but choose a healthy reaction to those thoughts, ask themselves four questions that are included in the acronym for H.A.L.T. They ask themselves: Am I Hungry?  Am I Angry?   Am I Lonely?  Am I Tired?  If the answer to any of the questions are yes and they are having negative impulsive thoughts, they take a step back and don’t react right away. Once they are aware that they are lacking in food (or angry for any reason, or feel lonely, or feel tired), they are able to take a breath. They take care of their basic needs first instead of immediately reacting to those negative impulsive thoughts.

2. They keep a journal.

It is no secret that journaling one’s thoughts and feelings can be a positive act. However, it is a struggle for many to get into the habit. Once they write out some of their negative impulsive thoughts (or just write down the feelings surrounding them), they get it out of their head and on paper, and it releases the stress of the negative action that the thought might bring. Once their feelings surrounding these thoughts are written down, it is no longer stuck in their head or affecting their mood. Journaling one’s thoughts can also be a way to kept track of how frequently these negative impulsive thoughts might arise. If the negative impulsive thought might involve telling someone how you really feel in a negative or hurtful way, instead of writing in a journal, they might write a letter to that person or write out a text that they don’t ever send. This action allows for their feelings of anger to be released but not actually communicated or sent to the person those thoughts and actions would involve. This way, they avoid lashing out in anger or frustration but still allow the feelings to be released so that they don’t later turn into resentments.

3. They talk to someone.

It is known that having a mentor, a confidant, or someone you trust and you are able to talk about your thoughts, feelings or issues with, can really help your situation. Mature people talk to someone about their thoughts and feelings to help sort things out. It could be a close friend they trust, a therapist. a life coach, or even a mentor that they admire and consider someone that would offer them sound advice with any given situation. The person they share their information with is a safe person that is there to encourage and guide, not one to ridicule or judge their situation.

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4. They replace the negative impulsive thought with a positive action.

Sometimes they have negative impulsive thoughts about issues they might struggle with. If it’s about lack of patience or quick anger towards their children, instead of reflexively acting out, they take a step back. They go in a different part of the house or set a boundary with their children that they need some time for themselves. If they want to indulge in something sweet, or their favorite burger, or pizza joint, they go for a walk or exercise instead. It they want a new outfit or a pair of expensive shoes they can’t really afford, they organize or go through their closet and find a few items they haven’t worn in months. As a safe compromise, they could also browse clearance racks and buy one item instead of a larger purchase they can’t afford. If they have addiction issues, many times exercise or meditation can immediately change their mental state for the better and are a great tools to utilise during periods of negative impulsive thoughts about drinking or using drugs.

5. They process their feelings.

Feelings are just feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. Mature people process their feelings first and then choose which reaction they want to make based on those thoughts and feelings. They are first presented with a thought, then a feeling, and then they can decide how to respond. It is their responsibility to own their feelings and make the best choice they can, based on the situation. Mature people do not blame others for their actions or reactions, they take responsibility for their own actions. They realise they have the power of choosing how to react in any given situation, no matter how negative or chaotic the current situation may be.

6. They think through the outcome.

If we reacted on every single thought or feeling that came into our minds, there might be a lot more people in prison or possibly even dead. For the most part, we have pretty good self control as we don’t always react to every single thought, desire, or feeling that we experience. Mature people that have negative impulsive thoughts think through the outcome. They think what would happen if they were to react to each to every negative impulsive thought they have. For example, what if they drank too much and got behind the wheel of a vehicle. The worst outcome could be their death or someone else’s. Instead, they utilise a designated driver or a taxi. If someone in recovery from addiction issues thinks through their thoughts on going back to drinking or using drugs, they realize the relapse isn’t worth it and remain sober for that day. If someone that enjoys shopping a little too much thinks through the fact that they will go further into debt or worse, they decide not to go shopping at all. If someone struggles with food addiction and realises the long term affect could be a life threatening illnesses later down the road, they eat something healthier or decide to exercise. After thinking through the outcome of each negative impulsive thought, they have the power to have stronger self control.

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7. They filter out the lies. 

Many of the thoughts that come to us are not true, especially the negative impulsive ones. Some thoughts tell us lies, like if we do take that drink or buy that new outfit things will be great, when in reality there is a consequence for every negative action. Mature people take the thought in and recognize it is not true, rejecting it altogether. They will not act on impulse because they know if they follow through on the action based on the thought the outcome will be completely different than what their thoughts are telling them. When they are hurt by someone and their negative impulsive thoughts tell them to do the same to that person to get even or revenge, they know the true outcome will eventually be guilt or shame for hurting someone else even though they themselves have been hurt.

8. They practice forgiveness.

If we continue to hold resentments or grudges towards others that have hurt us then anger will follow us everywhere we go. With the feeling of anger being a volatile one that can catapult a myriad of negative reactions in the span of a few seconds. It is dangerous to continuously have underlying anger in our lives because we have not forgiven others. Mature people practice forgiveness in their lives so that anger is not an underlying presence. Many times, feeling anger can be justified if others have hurt us, but to hold onto that anger is detrimental to our happiness. If we don’t forgive others, we actually allow them to still have control in our lives and our past because we have not let go of the event or person that hurt us. Forgiveness is a process, but mature people find other people that can help them work on the process of forgiveness and be able to live their lives with a clearer conscious and a heart that is no longer bitter. There is freedom in forgiveness. Mature people continually practice forgiveness. This makes them less likely to give in to negative impulsive thoughts because they have no lingering anger, hate, or resentments towards others just waiting to rise up within them.

9. The practice prayer or meditation.

Many times, believing in something greater than yourself can be a very positive thing. Mature people utilize prayer or meditation to lessen the stress of everyday life by giving those issues up to something greater than themselves. They could be a part of many of the numerous practicing religions around the world today, or just giving up their issues to a higher power (which many recovery groups are based on). They choose to believe in something else to help them get through their everyday lives. When negative impulsive thoughts come, they pray for the thoughts to stop, or to be led to the best reaction based on whichever negative impulsive thought they are faced with.

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Featured photo credit: Elade Manu via flickr.com

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Wendy Redden

Digital Advertising Account Manager, Music Blogger, Freelance Writer

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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