Illustration zum Thema Impulskontrolle.

Kontrolowanie impulsów

All humans are impulsive to varying degrees, but some more than others. The main features of impulsivity are impatience, rapid and unplanned reactions and reduced concern for the long-term consequences of actions – expressed succinctly by the adage “act first, think later.”

Impulsivity is not always bad. Impulsive people can easily take advantage of unexpected opportunities, effortlessly put their thoughts into words and quickly adapt to changes. Finding a balance is what matters.

Impulse control prevents impulsivity from dominating our actions. Poor impulse control becomes a problem when we feel unable to manage our behaviours or control our moods, leading to problems with our family, friends or at work.

Poor impulse control can also lead to dangerous behaviour, such as excessive gambling or committing sexual offenses. Research has found that paedophilic men with a history of sexual offenses against children exhibit inferior impulse control compared to paedophilic men without a history of sexual offenses against children.

It is important to understand when being impulsive is and is not appropriate, and to use this awareness to make the right choices.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to control your impulses and resist temptation:

Abstract thinking

Ask yourself why you should not act on an impulse (abstract) instead of how you could avoid acting on it (concrete).

Research has shown that thinking abstractly (why questioning) about our goals helps us to control our impulses. That is because when we ask ourselves why we tend to think of our actions as one piece of a larger puzzle. Our mind then finds it easier to stay focused and even associates temptations with negativity, as they are not part of the bigger picture.

Example: Should I watch television or go for a walk?

Why should I go for a walk?

  • I am often stressed. Open air is refreshing and relaxing.
  • I have been thinking about adopting a healthier lifestyle for a long time. A walk is definitely good for my health.
  • I want to expand or strengthen my social network. When I am outside I might meet some friends or acquaintances, or even meet new people.

What about watching television instead? No! That doesn’t get me anywhere.

And the how questioning?

How should I not watch television?

  • I will need a lot of will power.
  • It sounds like a lot of deprivation.

What about a walk instead? Is it really necessary?

When we ask why we tend to see going on a walk in a positive light and watching television in a negative light. When we ask how it is the other way around.


When we connect our long-term ambitions with regular rewards it becomes easier to fight temptation.

In order to achieve our long-term goal of a peaceful and respectful life we can more easily stay on course by rewarding ourselves every time we resist urges, such as watching child abuse material.

Try to think about what is rewarding for you – perhaps a piece of chocolate or a visit to the cinema?

Tackle your stress level

When we are stressed we give in to temptation more often. That is because when we are stressed we are – and especially our brain’s reward system is – searching for rewarding stimuli, which are often consumed at the expense of long-term goals.

Body scan can be a valuable tool to relax yourself when you are stressed. If you are not already acquainted with the practice, please go to Take a break to learn more.

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