The other day, one of my clients and I were discussing her impulses. She vibrates at a very fast level. She’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate and she does everything fast. Like really fast. This includes eating too much too fast and letting it turn into a binge, having sex with people without getting to know them, drinking too much too fast, and falling in love with people before getting to know them and then being stuck in heart-wrenchingly painful one-sided relationships with people who don’t love her the way she thinks she loves them.
Now don’t get me wrong, her impulsive side has helped her to be very successful in life. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s successful and she’s got lots of great friends who love her. However, she sometimes finds herself in the middle of something that she doesn’t quite want to be in because she leaped in too quickly. Certainly, this happens with binge eating, she will kind of snap out of it to find herself in the middle of a binge, but it’s also other things in life, a trip up to Tahoe with people she barely knows, or finding herself drunk and in bed with a guy who she met earlier that evening. She’s also prone to having episodes of impulsive shopping, sometimes being $5000 or more in credit card debt due to the purchase of a very expensive purse that she really didn’t need, but really thought she needed in the moment. I still remember, she had called me crying the day she realized the amount she owed, especially after she calculated the amount of additional interest on the credit card (you can check out this tool to see how she did it) that she would have to pay. That was one inconsolable phone call.
This inability to take life slow, though certainly exciting in the moment, makes life more difficult on the other end. There are ways to simply slow down and not get caught in the cycle of undoing a mess that you’ve somehow found yourself in.
1. Recognize that the sense of urgency is fake. There is very little in life that has to be done immediately. Is it possible that you will regret for the rest of your life not buying those Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes that were on sale for only $400.00? Possibly. But probably not. When it’s something like this, walk away for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have 24 hours, if it’s a one-day sample sale, walk away for 2 hours and give yourself some time to think about it. There is very little that you actually need. Most purchases are driven by desire and want, which is fleeting. Debt however is not.
2. Don’t sleep with someone that you don’t know when you’ve been drinking. Seriously. Just don’t. Get a number give a number and if it’s meant to be, you’ll meet up again when you’re both sober and you can figure it all out in a more clear-headed way. If he or she doesn’t call you later, you can imagine how they’d be if you had slept with them.
3. Take a week to not give any yeses. Instead of saying yes immediately to any requests, give the answer, “give me 24 hours to think about it.” Then, take some time to think about whether or not you actually want to do what is being requested of you.
4. Try to give thanks before eating. This doesn’t have to be about praying or saying grace. It could be as simple as thanking the earth for growing the lettuce you’re about to eat or thanking the salmon that you’re about to eat. Just taking a moment to express gratitude.
5. Slow down while you’re actually eating. Try implementing mindful eating techniques during meals so that you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.
6. Stop your mind from chaining together cause and effects and long stories that aren’t true. Anxiety is caused by taking what ifs, stringing them together and then following the path to a disastrous end. And it all happens in an instant. What if I leave the house, get hit by a car, wind up in the hospital paralyzed for life, have no one to take care of me and die alone? Your mind can be a very dangerous neighborhood, so tell it to slow down and to help you stay in the present. Imagine a giant stop sign telling you to just stop the irrational thinking.
What ways can you practice slowing down?
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