Mindfulness can help you decrease impulsive behaviors. Practicing focusing your attention can make a difference between yelling at someone you love and waiting until you are calmer. If you delay until you are calmer, you can speak from wise mind and speak in a way that others are more likely to hear. One exercise to practice is “Focus on Your Toes” from Dr. Aguirre.

Identify the feelings that often precede your impulsive behavior. When you act impulsively, what’s usually the cause? It might be feelings such as anger and jealousy. What are the feelings most likely to be triggered in you? Anger will be used for this example, but use the emotion that is most relevant for you.

As you sit or walk, begin to think about the last time that you were really angry. Notice the thoughts, feelings and urges that arise. Breathe normally and pay attention to the urges that arise. When you feel that the intensity of your emotion is high and you want to take action, you have a really, really strong urge, shift your attention to your toes.

Begin by moving your toes; feel your toes against one another, or brushing against your socks or the inside of your shoes. Keep your attention on your toes, shifting your weight while you are seated or as you walk. You can walk around, just keep your attention on your toes and feet. When your mind wanders back to your urges and emotions, ground your attention back to your toes. Continue to focus on your toes until you notice your emotions and urges diminishing. When this happens, begin to smile at how you’ve taken control.

Live a Skill-Full Life. By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 25, 2020

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