Impulsiveness explained…


Impulsiveness – The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Impulsiveness is a normal form of human behavior. All of us make some decisions impulsively, based on “gut-feel”, “instinct”, mood or whim. And life would be very dull we didn’t! 

Impulse can be a tremendous ally. Some people have made the best decisions of their lives impulsively, and many people make big decisions based on “gut feelings” – decisions such as which career to follow, who to marry, where to buy a house or where to invest their savings.

However, in some circumstances, impulse can be a tremendous liability. Some people have made the worst decisions of their lives impulsively based on that same “gut feeling”.

In his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence”, psychologist Daniel Goleman explains how our emotional mind, which is based in the brain’s limbic system, is distinct from our intellectual mind which is based in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The emotional mind makes lightning-fast decisions about things we like and dislike, hate, love and fear. The intellectual, logical mind makes slower, more deliberate, rational decisions.

Most mature, mentally healthy adults learn how to regulate their impulsive urges with logical reasoning, applying the wisdom of experience to minimize risks and maximize potential rewards.

For example, a married woman who has children may have the urge to have an affair with a co-worker, and then reasons that the consequences of the affair would be devastating to her children and her husband, so she doesn’t. A young man may feel the urge to drive his car at 120 mph, yet restrains the urge because he knows he may wreck his car or may get pulled over by the police. An angry employee may feel the urge to hit a belligerent boss, and hold back because her ability to reason convinces her doing so would probably result in the loss of her job.

Not all impulsive urges are wrong. The impulse to duck and raise your hands to protect your head when an object is hurled at you could save your life. A couple may travel to a vacation in Las Vegas and, knowing the odds are against them, may gamble some of their hard-earned money, knowing they will probably lose but enjoying the thrill of the chance that they just might win a fortune. A young graduate may decide to forego a great job opportunity because he/she wants to head off and “see the world” for a year.

Impulsiveness starts to become dysfunctional when those spur-of-the-moment decisions are insufficiently regulated by rational thought, and chronically harm the decision maker, their immediate family or other innocent bystanders.

The frontal lobe, or prefrontal cortex, is the area of the brain located just behind the forehead. It has been shown by neurologists to be associated with predicting the consequences of actions, ethical decision-making and pattern recognition. In other words, the prefrontal cortex is the risk/reward-calculation zone of the brain. Experiments have shown that, in most people, the prefrontal cortex reaches full development at around the age of 25. The lag between full physical maturity and prefrontal cortex maturity is sometimes used to explain the apparent emotional immaturity in teenagers and young adults, who often make decisions which appear “reckless” to older adults.

In his best-selling book “Blink”, author Malcolm Gladwell gives a very readable overview of how impulsive decision making can, at the same time, be both a powerful asset and a costly liability.
There are four commonly used sub-categories for impulsiveness:

  1. Urgency – A desire to act immediately to avoid a threat or avoid missing a perceived opportunity;
  2. Whimsical – Little or no serious consideration of positive and negative consequences of actions;
  3. Procrastination – Unfettered acceptance of diversions to circumvent an undesirable task;
  4. Thrill-seeking – Experiencing a thrill associated with taking a big risk.

What Chronic Impulsiveness Looks Like

  • • A man spends the family’s monthly budget on a “sure thing” at a gambling institution.
  • • A woman wants to stay married yet still has affairs.
  • • A man repeatedly quits jobs for no adequate reason.
  • • A man starts a brawl while he has his children with him.
  • • An employee berates and insults her boss and co-workers when faced with a minor disappointment.
  • • A woman threatens her husband with a loaded weapon after he returns home late from work.

What it feels like

Depending on your situation, your own psychological make-up and your current mood, you may find episodes of impulsivity thrilling, exhausting, entertaining, frightening or threatening.

However, if you are a mentally healthy adult and you are living with a person who routinely exhibits a dysfunctional impulsiveness, you will likely be very concerned about your own safety and the safety of any children and/or innocent bystanders.

You may feel frustrated at your inability to “talk sense” into such a person. You may also feel torn between a desire to run to safety and a desire to stay and try to help the person who is behaving impulsively.

What NOT to do

  • • Don’t ignore any threats to your own personal safety or the safety of any children or bystanders.
  • • Don’t repeatedly try to talk sense into a routinely impulsive person. If they don’t listen to their own rational thoughts, they are unlikely to pay attention to yours.
  • • Don’t fight or retaliate or fight fire with fire.
  • • Don’t leave precious objects, keepsakes, documents, resources and bank accounts in the custody of a reckless person. Protect your assets.
  • • Don’t take responsibility or blame yourself for the reckless actions of an impulsive person.
  • • Don’t go it alone or keep what you are experiencing a secret.

What TO do

  • • Protect your assets. Move important objects out of the reach of an impulsive person. Make copies of important documents, close joint bank accounts. Move precious items to a safe place.
  • • Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Develop an emergency plan for any scenario that may include violence or abuse being directed towards or your children.
  • • Protect your children and yourself physically from any impulsive acts of violence. Call the police if necessary.
  • • Talk about it! Talk to trusted friends and family about what you are dealing with. A reality check can help enormously in assisting you to make clear decisions for your own wellbeing.

Fear of abandonement explained..


Fear of Abandonment – An irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.

On the Edge

Fear of abandonment is often partnered with an exaggerated sense of dependency on another individual. People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder often live in a chronic sense of fear that their world is about to collapse through the abandonment of those closest to them.

While fear of abandonment may seem to do more harm to the person expressing it, it can become dangerous when someone begins to act on the false belief that you are going to abandon them.

This can result in sabotage of your other relationships, punishment in the form of retribution (“I’ll leave you before you leave me” or “I’ll cheat on you before you cheat on me”); jealous fits of rage (such as destroying property, hitting, threatening – even, in extreme cases, homicide); emotional withdrawal; and self-harm (including suicide attempts).

Fear of abandonment often manifests itself as an irrational form of jealousy. The abuser accuses the victim of being unfaithful or of loving other people in an unbalanced or inappropriate way. Pressure is then applied to the victim to cut off contact with the competing family member, friend or “lover”.

The irony of the fear of abandonment is that those who act on it often behave in ways that frighten their victims and push them further away.

How it looks

  • A spouse assumes their partner is having an affair without any objective evidence.
  • A mother does not allow her teenage child to form romantic or peer relationships.
  • A boyfriend calls or texts repeatedly – 15 or more times in a single day.
  • A girlfriend shows up at an office function to which she has not been invited.
  • A divorcee stalks his ex-wife after the dissolution of the relationship.

Some examples of statements from people who have a fear of abandonment include:

  • “You’ve never loved me.”
  • “I know you are having an affair”
  • “You prefer them to me.”
  • “You never want to spend time with me.”
  • “I know you want to leave me”

Why they do it

One of the root causes of Fear of Abandonment can be Lack of Object Constancy. Another can be deep-seated lack of self-esteem. In the case of some abusive individuals who also feel a strong sense of dependence on their victim and therefore fear losing them, there can be a conviction that the victim will imminently escape. 

Sometimes the accusation “You’re leaving me, aren’t you?” is used to justify an episode of abuse, is used as emotional blackmail or to perpetuate a situation of codependency.

Fear of abandonment can also be used by someone with a Personality Disorder as a justification for abusive behaviors including stalking, isolation, invasions of privacy, and other ways of controlling or monitoring the person they are afraid of losing.

How it feels

It can be a frustrating and deflating experience to live with someone who frequently expresses a fear of abandonment. 

Inwardly, it can be tempting to want to become the person that you are being accused of. You may fantasize about dumping them. You may be tired of their accusations and their dependent attitude. You may feel angry that you are being accused of being unfaithful without being able to act on it.

Outwardly, you may maintain a facade of reasonableness. It’s natural to want to say the “right thing” and assure the other person that you love them and will never leave them. But people who express a fear of abandonment generally make themselves less attractive by doing so. You may feel conflicted, wishing to be kind, yet feeling trapped in a downward spiral, resenting the other person for giving up on improving themselves while putting you in a difficult position.

How to cope

When faced with fear of abandonment it can be tempting to try to tackle the root cause by addressing the person’s feelings in an attempt to convince them they are not accurate. However, when you tell someone their feelings are inaccurate they are likely to find it invalidating

What NOT to do

  • Don’t try to argue or reason with a person who is experiencing fear of abandonment. Fear of abandonment is a primal emotion they are expressing, like a hungry baby crying for milk. You would have as much success trying to persuade a baby that crying doesn’t help.
  • Don’t go out of your way to try to prove you aren’t having an affair, or plotting to leave a person who has a fear of abandonment. Their fear is irrational and is unlikely to be resolved by a rational argument.
  • Don’t cave in to the demands of a person who is expressing fear of abandonment, when what they are demanding is not healthy for you or them. Just like a responsible parent, you sometimes have to say “no” to an unreasonable demand.
  • Don’t stay in the same room with anyone who threatens to hurt you, any children or themselves. Call the police immediately.
  • Don’t allow yourself to become isolated, or sacrifice things which are good for you in order to try to “prove” your love to someone else. Someone who truly loves you will never require you to prove your love for them. Keep your friends, your job and your support network intact.

What TO do

  • Put safety first – for children, yourself, property and for the person with the abandonment issues.
  • Take stock of the truth and separate what is real from what is not. You will have to do this for yourself as it will not be easy to convince the person expressing abandonment. Remember that even people with Personality Disorders get it right some of the time so don’t always discard their concerns just because they have cried wolf too often in the past.
  • Consider what is good and healthy for all parties concerned. It does no good to sacrifice your own needs to serve another person’s fear of abandonment – especially if it is not based on reality. You need to consider what is good for you AND what is good for the person with the disorder. For example, it isn’t good for you to give up your friends or family relationships to try to convince a person with abandonment that you love them. Neither is it good for you to retaliate in anger – you will just find yourself in a position of having to apologize later and you will just have handed the accusing person evidence that supports their abandonment theory. Consider what is best for both of you – if you can.
  • Follow through on your good judgment of what is appropriate. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you are picking your battles and fixing what you can fix and leaving alone what you can’t. You can’t fix other people’s feelings. Instead you can make good choices for your own life and your children’s lives – and reap long term rewards by doing so.

Damn panic

I can’t shake it off… I had almost a week w/o the kids and was doing so well with exercising the emotions… And now all I’ve been feeling is panic..

I tried sticking with it…but I can’t…mostly because I couldn’t just take “time out ” from the kids to truly feel it till it’s done…when I did tell them that I needed 5 minutes, all I could think of was that I’m a terrible mom… I kept trying to ride it, to figure out exactly what I was feeling and why…

The panic came back again… I don’t like it… I feel that although yeah I know that I have been a pretty good mother I think….now I don’t know what to do…. I’m panicking that I have not explained the divorce well enough that I haven’t helped them process it well enough… And of course I’m panicking about what their dad does and tells them… Like the other day they asked if I loved their dad and I said yes in my own way since he is their father… And they said ok but he doesn’t love you anymore. And then they wanted to know if that makes me sad or something. 
So I’m overwhelmed by panic… Fear that I am screwing my kids up.. Fear that I don’t know how to handle them…fear that I don’t know how to react…fear that although I really have been good with them I might end up screwing my relationship with them … 

I really have to be patient with myself… And I really have to cut myself some slack…. I have offered them validating environment, lots of love, acceptance, support… And I’m seriously trying really hard to help them adjust to the divorce, being positive and encouraging them to like spending time and having fun with their dad and keeping him on a positive light, simply saying that I didn’t get along with him anymore because we didn’t know how to solve our problems…

So I am really trying to be there for them…to avoid what I felt when my parents got divorced and my dad became a “villan” I don’t want my kids to ever hate their dad, no matter what my beef is with him…

Seems like this writing exercise is helping me with the panic… Gotta keep at it… Gotta stick to it…gotta persevere 

Seriously… Damn perfection… I m human… I’m allowed to screw up :p or to at least not do stuff perfectly 

What It’s Like To Live With Borderline Personality Disorder

What It’s Like To Live With Borderline Personality Disorder.

The Dialectical World View and Basic Assumptions

DBT Skills Training Manual

Dialectical perspectives on the nature of reality and human behavior share three primary characteristics.

  1. First, much as dynamic systems perspectives do, dialectics stresses the fundamental interrelatedness or wholeness of reality. This means that a dialectical approach views analyses of individual parts of a system as of limited value unless the analysis clearly relates the parts to the whole. Thus dialectics directs our attention to the individual parts of a system (i.e., one specific behavior), as well as to the interrelatedness of the part to other parts (e.g., other behaviors, the environmental context) and to the larger wholes (e.g., the culture, the state of the world at the time).
  2. Second, reality is not seen as static, but as made up of internal opposing forces (thesis and antithesis) out of whose synthesis evolves a new set of opposing forces. A very important dialectical idea is that all propositions contain within them their own oppositions. As Goldberg put it, “I assume that truth is paradoxical, that each article of wisdom contains within it its own contradictions, that truths stand side by side” (pp. 295–296, emphasis in original).4 Dialectics, in this sense, is compatible with psychodynamic conflict models of psychopathology. Dichotomous and extreme thinking, behavior, and emotions are viewed as dialectical failures. The individual is stuck in polarities, unable to move to syntheses.
  3. A third very important polarity has to do with clients’ maintaining personal integrity and validating their own views of their difficulties versus learning new skills that will help them emerge from their suffering. If clients get better by learning new skills, they validate their view that the problem all along was that they did not have sufficient skills to help themselves. They have not been trying to manipulate people, as others have accused them of doing. They are not motivated to hurt others, and they do not lack positive motivation. But the clients’ learning new skills may also seem to validate others’ opinions in other ways: It may appear to prove that others were right all along (and the client was wrong), or that the client was the problem (not the environment). Dialectics not only focuses the client’s attention on these polarities, but also suggests ways out of them.

10 things you discover about yourself when diagnosed with BPD

1. People will not understand you.

2. What feels right at first is usually wrong, wrong, wrong.

3. Sometimes you’re the villain.

4. You have a love/hate relationship with your diagnosis.

5. You’ve got some extra baggage.

6. It’s not your fault!

7. You’re interesting and exciting to others.

8. You’re crazy in bed.

9. Your best friend/partner is one strong motherfucker.

10. You are also one strong motherfucker.

see full article here (10-things-you-discover-about-yourself-when-youre-diagnosed-with-borderline-personality-disorder/)

Feeling emotions..

Ok, so this morning I had a teachable moment… It started with some panicky thoughts..which led to fear…so I decided to ride it.

It was sooooo hard, riding fear to the core.. I literally felt like a dead weight, frozen, every part of my body was it had stones attached pulling me under, pulling me down. I couldn’t move..

It makes sense that we wouldn’t want to feel this…it sucks. It’s so uncomfortable to feel paralyzed

Yet I decided to stay with it, to allow myself to really feel it, to ride it. I trusted myself that it will pass…. Yet each time I fought the feeling I came back to it, feeling the dead weight, not being able to move

I guess I’ve gotten quite good at ignoring my feelings that I forgot how debilitating fear really is. My favorite go-to emotion is anger. So not going there today and feeling the actual fear instead was to say the least interesting

It was exhausting to really feel, but I think I have to learn how to

And how to tolerate what I feel

It was uncomfortable, but I did come out of it

And then I was able to focus on my thoughts and on needed to be done.

Tough moment…

so here I am enjoying a nice evening with my girlfriends and my ex-husband asks me in his typical non-direct way “are you going to be home in august” which translates into “I want to bring my girlfriend home and I need you out”  I ask how long and he’s like, well like a week or so… (we had a civilised divorce where we still live under the same roof… for a while, until we can split the house money wise)

Of course I get mad.. especially since I really like his girlfriend and have told him that I don’t have a problem with her being here… but he does, or she does I don’t know… so the bottom line is that for her to be here I’d have to not be here

So I get mad… the pre-potent answer of course.. and tell him that fine, he can have the house and I’ll move out…(yeah black and white thinking) and he writes back that well that’s not what he meant, but I’m already angry… and all i can say is..that fine I’ll move out, I’ll move out….and then i realise that i can’t handle it so i say ok I’m ending this conversation now and I’ll think about it

so I cut the evening short with my friends and cry all the way home, really allowing the god damn sadness to take over… and ride the bloody thoughts of suicide and of how everyone’s lives would be better without me and how i’m nothing.. the whole spiral…emptiness, self-downing… and i keep saying how it really sucks to feel like this and i want it to stop and how i wish i had a DBT therapist to just call and help me out, and help me calm down and see things clearly… but i don’t.. i’m so alone… and this is my problem…

so i can’t push the emotions away… i ride them and really feel them… they really sucked… big time..

and then… at some point i guess the ride was over

and i decided that i can be assertive… so i think about it…. i think about how to write an assertive message… and i do it … and i tell him that the divorce was civilised and that i have the right to be in the house and that if he wants to spend time with her i don’t have a problem, he can do it here or at her place.. and i tell him that i would prefer if he just came out and asked what he wanted instead of going around, which activates me emotionally …… and …. it worked. i felt really good about myself because i expressed my needs, he responded ok-ish… but i stuck to my short and to the point explanation and the conversation was ok and the conclusion was positive…

and most importantly i somehow managed to handle this on my own and even be assertive… yeei for me

Ready to use DBT Skills Flashcards

Fantastic resource – flash cards that can be printed, ready to use

Distress Tolerance – great resource

Distress Tolerance*.

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