Time to think…about turning away from tempting little habits

“Since habit is such a powerful influence, and we’re used to pursuing our impulses to gain and avoid outside our own choice, we should set a contrary habit against that, and where appearances are really slippery, use the counterforce of our training.” Epictetus, Discourses.

The emphasis needed here is on the word ‘training’. Successful impulse management requires having options for alternative action ready to employ. I avoid using the term ‘impulse control’ because an impulse is an innate, internal drive that exists to keep you alive. We cannot control an impulse by simply switching it on or off like a computer (and the way things are going, it’s getting progressively more difficult to do that without ‘feeling’ vulnerable! For further insights on that, I refer you to the track ‘iPhone’ by the fabulous band Sparks. Caution: contains adult lyrics!).

Make the ‘counterforce’ of your training as powerful as possible by:

  1. Thinking about what you can do in advance of the impulse appearing.
  2. Practising and rehearsing the new sets of skills and options that you can employ.
  3. Reflecting on and refining these new set pieces after every time you employ them.