Learning to remain grounded in the present helps me deliberately resist the impulsive urges of my bipolar disorder.
Too often, those of us who live with bipolar disorder give in to our impulses. Whether it’s to drive for miles just to buy that piece of chocolate we suddenly crave, or to follow impulsive urges that are far more dangerous.
We all have been entrapped by these sudden compulsions at one point or another. But how can we escape them, or not allow them to hurt us?
While reading his book, Meditations, I came across a quote that struck a chord within me. This chord seemed to play a tune of my life I could no longer silence. This tune was the sound of impulses giving way to negative behaviors, followed by the answer.
Yes, I had an epiphany.
No longer did I believe my impulsivity was the sole cause for my negative behaviors. I suddenly understood that my actions toward these impulsive urges created my negative behaviors.
Marcus Aurelius states that we should “give what is right” in “every impulse.”
This is precisely what led me to the decision that I was no longer going to be a victim of my impulses.
Instead, I was going to make deliberate choices.
I would give in to only those impulses that I would deem “right” when not feeling impulsive. I decided I was going to live with intention even when faced with an impending impulse. This is what I believe we should all do.
No longer should we allow our impulses to dictate our actions, despite how difficult this course of action is and will be. Each and every time, we should deliberately choose what comes of our sudden disposition toward fast, unplanned reactions.
In a sense, we should not allow our impulses to determine what course of action we take. We should instead rationally weigh out the costs and benefits of acting out each.
How to Stop an Impulse?
You might be wondering how exactly one could stop an impulse when the word itself is characterized by its rushing nature. Well, one could start by taking a pause whenever faced with such a thought.
This idea of taking a momentary pause might be novel to some of us living with bipolar disorder. Our disorder often does not give us room to be in the present and usually has us living in the future.
But this does not mean it is impossible to be in the present. We must force ourselves, just as we vow to do with our impulses, to remain present and not drift off into the land that requires us to speak in the future tense. It is only by remaining present that we can be deliberate in the actions we take when faced with impulses.
Pride vs. Regret with Mania & Bipolar
The actions we take when faced with an impulse are those we would be proud of when coming down from our manic episodes. It should be actions that we could recommend to others wholeheartedly and without an ounce of regret.
I believe we could all benefit from learning to not allow our impulses to control our decisions. Whether you or someone you know is living with bipolar disorder, remind them to be deliberate about what they “give” to an impulse and to be intentional with the actions they take toward themselves and others.
No longer should we live in fear of being impulsive; instead, we should embrace it for what it is and learn that it does not have to determine what we do next.
Jasper Benitez is a past TEDx Speaker who enjoys speaking about the topics which many find difficult. At the age of 19, he was hospitalized under what is known as a "Baker Act." After spending several days in the hospital, he walked out with bottles of prescription medication, doctors appointments, and stacks of paperwork that disclosed a diagnosis—Bipolar Disorder Type 1: Mixed Severe with Psychotic features. Along with the diagnosis, he had to learn to accept the reality that he could no longer fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer. He also received a medical discharge from the U.S. Army National Guard just a few short months before he was set to ship out to Basic Combat Training. But even after having lost the many opportunities which he had spent years working hard to obtain, Jasper refused to give up. Instead, he chose to stay in the fight and make something of himself. No, Jasper is on a mission to provide mentorship to students, parents, and adults as they navigate through difficult processes such as being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. By living authentically and speaking with transparency, he seeks to motivate others to live in their truth. Jasper serves as an example that the labels you are assigned do not necessarily equate to being a barrier to your success.
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