Impulse Control

Acting impulsively and expressing your emotions without any filters can feel good at the moment, but like any overindulging behaviour, can also leave you feeling really bad about yourself once that moment has passed.

You may feel some sort of relief when yelling at someone who’s annoying you, for instance, but it’s not going to help build your relationship with that person and/or help you feel good about yourself.

Being attuned to your emotions, understanding them and then taking the appropriate action, can increase success in all areas of life. Therefore, people need to develop a strong self-awareness of their emotions and their origins to understand themselves better – their motivations, fears, limitations and strengths.

If we can take the “emotional charge” out of feelings, emotions can provide valuable information about how we understand the world around us. People who know their own emotions and are good at reading others’ emotions can be more effective in the workplace and at developing strong relationships with others.

Emotional Intelligence

At its core, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand and manage one’s own and other’s emotions in order to communicate effectively, overcome challenges, resolve conflicts and foster group harmony and teamwork.

Carolyn Talks

So, in today’s Carolyn Talks, I had the opportunity to coach Ian. In the past, Ian struggled with drug addiction and controlling his impulses. Fast forward to today, I am happy to report that after a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment, Ian has been clean and sober for 15 years in recovery and no longer uses drugs to medicate his feelings. However, sometimes when we stop one bad habit, it can manifest in other ways; and for Ian, it shows up when expressing his anger.

In this week’s Carolyn Talks’ segment, which we like to call – Carolyn’s Coaching Corner, Ian had completed an online emotional intelligence assessment the day before the show and prior to going on air, had just received his EQ (Emotional Quotient) scores.

Normally, after my clients purchase any of our EQ assessments, they receive a one-hour private debrief on their results. These reports are completely confidential, and will only be seen by you, the client, and your EQ coach, and are to be used only for your own personal growth and professional development.

But today, Ian agreed that in addition to his one-hour debrief, he would come on the show and talk about one of his lowest EQ scores, impulse control, and how that gets in his way.

Ian decided to share his story with all of us, as he felt someone watching the show might benefit, along with him, in learning how to be stronger and more powerful than his fury.

I believe any person willing to share their own struggles, limitations, or what I like to call them “wobbly bits” with others, is courageous. So a big shout out to Ian!!! Thanks, Ian!

So sit back and watch this amazing, powerful coaching session.

Video Transcript

Carolyn: Hi, it’s Carolyn Stern, and welcome to Carolyn Talks, the show to watch if you want to get unstuck, maximize your potential, and achieve more.

Today I’m here with Ian. Ian just finished an EQ assessment. What’s an EQ assessment? It’s an online web-based assessment where you answer 133 statements on a frequency scale going from “never to rarely” to “almost always” and “always.”

So Ian’s just received his scores. He’s had a few minutes to look it over, and normally when I go over these scores with my clients, we have an hour debrief and it’s confidential, but today, Ian’s agreed that he would talk about his scores, or at least, in particular, one of his lowest scores, impulse control, and how that gets in his way. So, Ian, welcome to the show.

Ian: Thank you.

Carolyn: Thanks. Let’s start with your impulse control. How do you think that gets you stuck?

Ian: I think there’s a lot of different ways. In the past, impulse control was a big issue for me in terms of drug addiction and things like that. I don’t know if we can talk about that, but-

Carolyn: It’s fine.

Ian: Anyway, that’s something that I’ve … I’ve been in recovery for 15 years, so it doesn’t…

Carolyn: Congratulations.

Ian: Thank you. It doesn’t affect that, but I can see how it manifests in other ways. I think … Impulse control …

Carolyn: Where does it get in your way, in the most significant way?

Ian: Okay, well, one of the areas that I can identify for sure is just in terms of anger. It seems like for me, anger can almost be like a drug, and I seem to … Yeah, like I don’t have control like there’s a lack of control, so if that’s an impulse, then yeah, impulse control, I can see how that applies to anger, for sure.

Carolyn: The gift that you being here today is showing our audience that, there are probably tons of viewers right now that struggle with anger management, and the good thing, they can’t see your scores, but one of the things that you ranked really high in was emotional self-awareness, and having high emotional self-awareness is key, because, in order to change any of these competencies, you have to have the awareness, right? So you have the awareness that you can lose your impulses, control of your impulses, and react. What can you do to stay committed to not reacting? Because the first step is awareness, which you have. At that moment, I might say something that triggers you, but what can you do so that you don’t react in anger?

Ian: I wish I had the answer to that. I think for me, to be committed to something is a very, it’s a powerful concept, but I … I do a lot better with commitment when I’m held accountable. I can often commit to myself, sort of, but without committing, not telling anybody about a commitment to take an action, or to either do or not do something, but without … I don’t hold myself accountable, so I’ll often break my word to myself, right? But if I’m held accountable to a commitment by others, I’m much more likely to get some success in that.

Carolyn: Yeah, and, by the way, you’re not alone with that. One of the reasons why places like Weight Watchers works is they make people go in every week and get weighed, and so they’re accountable for their daily eating habits throughout the week because they have to get on that scale and show somebody the number. So you’re not alone there. How can I, as your coach, help you stay accountable? Whether that’s me being an accountability partner or somebody else, what can you do to keep you accountable?

Ian: I think I do a lot better when I’m rewarded, as opposed to punished, because I think I have a fear of screwing up, so when I do screw up, I need that to be okay. My tendency, maybe, is to sort of turtle, or to sort of … Yeah, to not show up. If I screw up, I don’t want people to know about it, right, because for somehow, it’s like it’s not okay, it’s not okay to make a mistake.

Carolyn: Right, right, and based on your emotional intelligence scores, one of your other lower competencies is independence. Now, I struggle with independence myself, that’s actually my lowest competency, and what that means is, when you have low independence, you are emotionally dependent on others. So you getting the A-OK, it’s okay to screw up, is your independence working. It’s your dependence of needing somebody to tell you it’s okay. As your coach, I’m telling you it is okay if you screw up, and by the way, when anybody, any of my clients, when I’m coaching them, you’re trying to change behaviours here, and behaviours aren’t easy to change

What I give all of my clients is what I call a relapse prevention program, which is when you relapse, and you will relapse because we all do, nobody’s perfect, it’s not a straight line, what are you going to do? What could be a relapse prevention program for you, so when you screw up, and you do get emotionally charged, and you do get angry, what can you do to get back on track?

Ian: A relapse prevention for me looks like just picking up where I left off and moving on, not getting caught up in “oh, I screwed up again,” and beating myself up, and taking myself out in that way.

Carolyn: Right, right, and it’s really easy, and what I tell my clients is, “Plan it now while you’re strong.” Plan your relapse prevention now while you’re strong before you’re in the muck of it. For instance, when I cheat on my diet, afterward, I feel like crap, so what do I do? I go out and buy a cheesecake and eat the whole thing. What you need to do is, while you’re strong, what can you do to not react? You’ve just said you’re not going to beat yourself up. Great. I want to go back to, how are you going to stay committed to not reacting emotionally?

Ian: Well, I guess for me, it’s going to be having a plan, for starters, and I think the biggest, the most important part of that plan is that I’m not doing it by myself.

Carolyn: Okay. I’m in it with you.

Ian: Okay, but I’ll need to have friends, family, just sort of a support group, I guess.

Carolyn: Okay, so let’s talk about the plan. What’s one thing, what’s the first thing you can do when someone triggers you, and you’re emotionally charged, and you’re aware that you’re emotionally charged, what’s one thing that you can do in that moment to stay committed to your plan of not reacting emotionally?

Ian: Like, you mean if I get angry, or if I’m triggered by something? I guess the first thing is just to, maybe, to breathe, to try to create a little bit of space, just a gap between whatever triggers me, because … You know, I don’t see it coming, I don’t see it coming, so the more time I can give myself to respond, as opposed to just react right away, yeah, that would … Figuring out how to do that, I think, is a really good first step.

Carolyn: Okay, perfect. One tip that I give clients is, if you can, look at yourself from the situation from above, almost like you’re an observer of yourself. So somebody’s triggered Ian down here, and almost take yourself above the situation, and look from above, and how can you … That’ll give you the space that you’re talking about. How can you, with that space, then plan an appropriate response?

Ian: Well, I think if I have space, then I am capable of making an appropriate response because I think one of the results in there was my reliance on others, I forget-

Carolyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative), independence, yeah.

Ian: Independence, right, so because it’s important to me what other people think of me, in this kind of situation, that can really work in my favour, because I don’t … I know that when I react, and I come out angry, clearly other people don’t approve of that behaviour, so if I can find, make that space, that I’m actually making a conscious decision of how I’m acting, then my desire to have others view me favourably … You know, I’ll treat others well, because I want them to like me, or I want them to approve of … And, like, yeah. Yeah.

Carolyn: One of the things that I always tell people when they get their scores, because we’re so used to wanting really high scores, high means good, but I don’t want you to think like that, because there is the dark side of emotional intelligence with all of these things. For instance, if you had a really high independence score, the dark side of, you can be too independent. You can not need anybody, and then you don’t work well with teams. If you’re married to someone that’s too independent, then that woman never feels, or man never feels needed in that relationship. Now, you, on the other hand, have really low independence, like myself, I can relate to you. But like you said, there are the positives of having the low score sometimes, because it does help you keep control of those impulses because you don’t want to come across in a negative way.

Okay, so before we close, we’ve talked a little bit about the awareness of knowing what you’re doing at the moment, the opportunity to give yourself space and look from above. What’s one thing that you could say, because emotional intelligence is all about not only being aware of our emotions but being able to express them constructively, what’s one thing you could say at that moment when someone triggers you, in a constructive way?

Ian: One thing I could say to the other person?

Carolyn: Yes.

Ian: One trick I’ve learned is to ask the person to repeat themselves, or to ask them for clarification of what they said, because sometimes … Yeah, that, just in doing that, I’m not reacting, I’m actually defusing myself a little bit there.

Carolyn: For sure.

Ian: It’s like I’m creating that gap that we were talking about.

Carolyn: Right, so you’re taking time to try to cool down, and let them talk so that you don’t feel like you have a need to talk. Great. What’s the next thing you could say, even if you’re emotionally charged, after they’ve repeated them self and explained what they meant, what’s the next thing you could say to let someone know that either A, they’ve triggered you in a negative way, or B, how you’re feeling, but in a constructive way?

Ian: Yeah, for me, that’s, it’s … I think I’m very internal in my feelings, and I don’t want to tell people how I’m feeling.

Carolyn: Okay. Now I’m going to argue with you here. That’s not what your score says, because your emotional expression score, which is constructively expressing your emotions, you’re quite high in, so that means you’re actually able to constructively express your emotions.

Now, maybe you don’t feel like you’re worthy of expressing how you feel, but you are very capable, based on your score, of being able to constructively express your emotions. My question to you is, can you give yourself space to say, “You know what, I am worthy, my feelings do count, and I can share how I’m feeling in this moment”?

Ian: I never thought of that. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, like I can tell myself I’m worthy. It sounds odd to say that, but … Yeah, like I do get that for me, it’s hard to tell somebody else how I’m feeling, especially “oh, I’m angry,” or “I’m sad,” something that I consider bad news. Yeah, I get that I don’t want the other person to know that about me.

Carolyn: Emotional intelligence is all about, it’s not about controlling your emotions and not expressing them, it’s about controlling them and expressing them in a controlled and constructive way. So I can say, “You know what, Ian? What you just did, when you did that, I felt angry,” and I don’t have to be angry to say it.

Ian: Yeah. For me, that’s … It’s like, if I’m angry, I want you to know I’m angry by showing you I’m angry. It’s like, that’s how I deal with it.

Carolyn: Right, right, right. Okay, so can I ask, as your accountability coach, that the next time you’re triggered, you’re going to, one, have the awareness of it, two, get some space, and then three, constructively say how you’re feeling? “When you did X, I feel,” or “I felt,” or “I’m feeling angry.” Can you commit to me, the next time that’s done, that you can try that?

Ian: Oh, I can certainly try. Yeah, that’ll be a challenge, actually. It sounds like something so simple, but I don’t … I can’t see myself doing that, but, yeah.

Carolyn: But if you want to be different, you’ve got to do different, and so by trying this approach, which is have the awareness, get yourself out of the equation, look from above, and then constructively say, “When you did blank, I felt angry,” will help you defuse any situation.

Ian: Okay. I can commit to doing that.

Carolyn: Okay, good.

Ian: Or at least I can commit to trying to do that.

Carolyn: Absolutely, and that’s all I need you to do, is to be willing to be willing.

Ian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carolyn: Thanks so much for coming. I really appreciate you being here. Now I have a question for you: What’s one thing that you do to control your impulses? 

Leave a comment below. Sometimes the best conversations happen after the episode, so make sure you go to www.carolynstern.com and leave a comment now. If you enjoyed this show, please share it with your friends and subscribe to our channel. Thanks so much for watching Carolyn Talks, and see you next time.

Now, all this talk probably has you wondering about your own level of emotional intelligence. Curiosity is only natural.

The first step towards improving your emotional intelligence is discovering your EQ by completing an EQ Assessment.

Your EQ will be in the form of a numerical value that measures your emotional intelligence like how IQ measures traditional intelligence.

One word of caution – whatever your EQ is, don’t worry. Instead, look at this number as more of a starting point as greater self-awareness will guide you towards continual improvement in your personal and work relationships.

With this increased self-awareness, you can best decide your ‘next steps’ to becoming better and more effective at being in touch with your own emotions and those of others. This means having better relationships, better conversations, being a better team player, leader and, overall, being more effective at work and in life!

Improving your EQ is not a “one size fits all” process. We are all different and research shows that successfully being able to understand, express, and manage your own emotions involves figuring out which particular tools and emotional regulation strategies work best for you in any given situation.

How do you control your impulses and not act out in anger?

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE QUIZ

WANT TO KNOW YOUR LEVEL OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE? TAKE OUR FREE 5-MINUTE QUIZ TO SEE WHERE YOU RANK ON THE EI SCALE. ENTER YOUR NAME AND EMAIL TO GET STARTED!

Thank you!