Monday, October 24, 2016

Break the Chains of Impulsive Behavior

Whether we’re thinking about having a second helping of dessert, buying a new expensive iPhone 7 when the existing phone works just fine, or choosing between an expensive destination wedding and a more modest ceremony close to home, too often we choose short-term immediate gratification at the expense of longer term bigger benefits.

Is there something we can do to help us break the chains of short-term impulsive thinking and behavior?

Yes, there is.

The Brain Science

Traditionally, self-control models look at brain processes in the prefrontal cortex associated with impulse control and emotions when attempting to explain why we so often make decisions favoring immediate short-term gain rather than opting for greater longer term benefits.

In a recent *study conducted by the University of Zurich and the University of Dusseldorf, researchers discovered another brain region called the temporo-parietal junction plays an important role in self-control by directing attention to the needs of a “Future Self”.

This discovery helps explain why a process I often use with clients called “Future Pacing” can be so effective in helping stop problem thinking and behaviors such as, low confidence, compulsive overeating, or other disempowering patterns.

Creating a “New You” With Future Pacing

Here’s how to put Future Pacing to work in your life:

  • Find a quiet, private, and comfortable place where you won’t be bothered for at least five minutes. Close your eyes and - as best you can - enter a calm and relaxed state.
  • Bring to mind a visualization of how you want to handle a situation that, in the past, you handled poorly.
  • Create a mind-movie of you handling that same situation in a way that aligns with your chosen new reality. Play that movie on the big screen in your Theatre of Mind. Allow the pictures to be big, bright, and bold. Give your mind-movie a title in alignment with your chosen new reality such as, “Confident Speaker”, “Healthy Eater”, or “Loving Partner”.
  • Add sound as appropriate. Hear others complimenting you on your chosen behavior. Hear yourself affirm how good you feel as you act in alignment with your new chosen reality.
  • Allow yourself to see, hear, and feel this chosen new, ongoing reality from a third person point of view (you’re watching yourself as if you are in a movie audience), a second person point of view (you’re in the movie, but looking at yourself through the eyes of another character in the movie), and a first person point of view (you’re looking through your own eyes). Really make the visualizations, big, bold, and empowering.
  • Allow your “Success Mind-Movie” to play for several minutes and then return to your normal activities.

Repeat this Future Pacing process three or four times a day for at least three weeks and then periodically ongoing until this new behavior becomes your default habitual way of behaving.

When faced with a situation that in the past may have resulted in short-term impulsive behavior, a quick visit in mind to a short section of your Future Pacing mind-movie will be all you need to direct attention and behavior to your new reality. You are "Re-minding" a chosen, empowering way of being.

Remember, you’re creating a script and then rehearsing the staring role as a happier, healthier new you. In just a few short weeks - or even in a few short days - your mind-movie can become your new way of living.

If you would like to learn more about our Future Pacing process and other ways of moving from Stress to Success, visit us at

Blessings, light, and love,

Steve Carter

Stress Solutions, LLC |

P.S. Make sure you receive your copy of each new "Stress Mastery" post in your email in-box. Put in your email address in the "Follow by Email" box on the right.

Important note: This post and all other posts on this blog are for informational purposes only. Please consult an appropriate licensed health care provider for any medical, emotional, or psychological issues of concern.
*Journal Reference:
A. Soutschek, C. C. Ruff, T. Strombach, T. Kalenscher, P. N. Tobler.Brain stimulation reveals crucial role of overcoming self-centeredness in self-control. Science Advances, 2016; 2 (10): e1600992 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600992

No comments:

Post a Comment