Men + Mood: The Secret to Impulse Control
What is the Secret?
To better decisions.
Better self control.
Greater sex with your sweet love.
So, it's probably not in your cellphone. But wait a minute, you're reading this on your cell phone! Maybe. Either way, part of the clue is to connect, but not online.
Connect within. "As within, so without" said Alyson Noel and so coined a term that reminds us that the internal lens we use through which to view the world, is our world, and daily becomes our world.
So reseting that internal lens is kind of important. Massively important. And the key to better impulse control.
When you make a decision, you use the front of your brain to assign value. Called the DLPFC, or Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex, this area of the brain receives messages from the bottom of the frontal lobe, the OFC, OrbitoFrontal Cortex. Messages can be cravings to get or do things. In rTMS, where an electromagnetic field is applied to the brain to change the way someone sees a compulsion such as gambling, the DLPFC receives a field that causes it to decide not to assign value to the urge to gamble.
When you have strong emotions like fear or aggression, from your Amygdala, mindfulness can help you activate areas of the brain to reduce fear and aggression. By learning to dial up your Relax Mode, you learn to reduce your Flight or Fight Mode. Then you can think clearly and make decisions not based in compulsions.
Men are socially rewarded more often for hiding sadness and fear, and displaying toughness or aggression.
If you have a history of trauma, then this can also come up in strong feelings of aggression. When you need to survive, anger can serve as an energetic way to face trouble or obstacles. However, with PTSD or a history of training in anger, men can get stuck in a pattern of responding with outbursts of emotion, like anger, based in an intense feeling of a need to survive. But when the past is no longer the present, this can lead to problems in many spheres of life. You may act more hostile, be more rigid, need to control your surroundings, or believe you can't trust anyone (1,2).
But you can overcome this. Learning techniques like deep breathing, exercising vigorously every morning or lifting weights, counting in your head once you recognize the signs of fight or flight mode, and committing every day to one minute of mindfulness practice, can make a difference.
Learning to accept the different emotions, view them from a neutral standpoint, and be kind to yourself, are first steps towards greater success, self control, and better connection in relationships.
Where to start?
It's simple. Start by simply noticing the breath. Deep breathe into the belly. Make the breaths longer and longer. You can try holding the breath to see if that helps. Ensure that your exhale is longer than your inhale. Tap the outsides of your legs if you are sitting or standing, alternating between left and right, or not (a technique to anchor in the experience). Observe the breath, your mood, your thoughts, your self, with kindness and acceptance.
Know that, as you practice mindfulness, you scientifically shift the physiology of your body. Stress hormones decrease. Your heart gets healthier. Brain rhythms normalize. Anxiety lessens. You stop comparing your self to others. You develop a tool to help you transition from work to home. Focus increases. Performance improves. Emotional intelligence is honed. Confidence grows. Your ability to connect with your love gets more stellar (3,4).
Wishing you the best, always,
1. Chemtob, C.M., Novaco, R.W., Hamada, R.S., Gross, D.M., & Smith, G. (1997). Anger regulation deficits in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10(1), 17-35.
2. "Anger and Trauma" from National Center for PTSD.
3. Meyuhas, M. (2017) The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness for Men.
4. Goldstein, E. 5 Reasons Why Men Should Start Practicing Mindfulness. Mindful Magazine.