Learning to Control Our Impulses

Some of the most important work we do in recovery is completely internal, the outside world might not see it, but we feel huge changes taking place within us. One of these crucial changes is the ability to control our impulses, something we really struggle with as addicts. Our impulses that are related to our addictions, that make us repeatedly return to our drugs of choice, are the same impulses that make us self-destructive in our everyday lives, in our choices, in our actions and our relationships. They’re the same impulses that make us speak to ourselves in self-disparaging, unkind ways. And they’re the same impulses that mentally and emotionally contribute to our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. As we’re working to recover from our addictions, there are things that we’ve found particularly challenging, such as having willpower and resilience, that we’ll need to work on. A huge part of this work is learning how to control our impulses.

Our self-destructive impulses, the ones that tell us to isolate ourselves, or to stop going to meetings, or to go out drinking when we’re sad, are the result of our subconscious programming, limiting beliefs and toxic thought patterns. We’ve developed the beliefs that we’re not stronger than our addictive urges, that our addictions control and define us, that we’re powerless against temptation. These are beliefs, they’re not fact. We can reprogram our subconscious minds and shed our limiting beliefs. We can create new thought patterns and new belief systems.

Mindfulness teaches us how to be more present, more conscious and more aware of everything going on inside of us, our thoughts and feelings, our fears, our emotional responses, our instincts and our impulses. With mindfulness, we can practice redirecting our thoughts and choosing ones that empower us to believe in ourselves and to make healthy choices. We can practice sitting with our strong impulses and breathing through them, accepting all of the feelings and physical sensations they bring with them. We might feel anxiety as nervous tingling energy coursing through our bodies. We might start worrying, overthinking or panicking. Our hearts might start to race. We might start to hyperventilate. Practice breathing through the difficulty and the discomfort. Accept the feelings as they are without trying to change them, rush them away, or get rid of them. When we learn to sit with our impulses and move through them, they no longer control us. We no longer feel like we need to follow our impulses and compulsively do what they direct us to do. Over time, and with practice, we can shed our dependence on our coping mechanisms, as well as our attachment to our drugs of choice.

Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.