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9 Ways Mature People Deal With Negative Impulsive Thoughts

9 Ways Mature People Deal With Negative Impulsive Thoughts
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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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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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