Have you ever had an impulsive reaction to situations you come across in your life, and then regretted it later on?

If you did, that’s because you reacted instead of responded. When you react, you give power to your emotions, triggers, and whatever knee-jerk reaction takes over you. It’s often an impulsive response you feel you can’t control.

Impulsivity is often associated with difficulty regulating emotions, particularly negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, or frustration. When individuals struggle to manage their emotions effectively, they may act impulsively as a way to cope with their feelings.

The good news? You aren’t stuck this way. You can become responsive instead of reactive. But like any skill, self-control, and impulse control require practice. Moving from being reactive to responsive takes some work.

Here are six techniques and ways you can go about to start making more mindful choices and taking control of your life:


You must know yourself well to understand where your knee-jerk reactions are coming from. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations throughout the day. For many people, a good way to do this is through journaling. Observe how your thoughts influence your behavior and decisions. When doing this, be non-judgmental with yourself.  Accept your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Throughout this practice, show yourself some compassion.


Throughout your self-awareness practice, you should take some time to reflect on the situations or people that tend to trigger reactive responses in you. By becoming aware of these triggers, you can be better prepared to respond more thoughtfully and intentionally when they arise. It’s easier to prepare against the monster you know than the ones you don’t know.


Set some time aside daily to practice mindfulness meditation. This can help you develop control over your thoughts and emotions, which will come in handy to avoid acting impulsively. While these meditation sessions are important, it’s equally important to bring this practice into your day-to-day interactions through deep breathing. When you feel yourself starting to react impulsively, take a deep breath and count to 10 before responding. This can give you a moment to pause and gather your thoughts, rather than reacting impulsively.


When you’re interacting with others, practice active listening. This involves fully focusing on what the other person is saying, without interrupting or judging. This way, you’re more focused on what they are saying and less on what their words are making YOU feel, which can cause a knee-jerk reaction. Practicing active listening can help you better process what you are being told and allows you to respond more thoughtfully and empathetically.


You, and only you, have the power to make choices that shape your life. Recognizing this responsibility that you have towards yourself is the first step to making decisions and actions that reflect the life you want to have and not the one you used to have.


Lastly, you must set yourself up for success both physically and emotionally. When you aren’t taking care of your physical or emotional well-being, you aren’t in the best state to think through your actions which may result in acting impulsively and in a reactive state to save energy. Thus, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep is primordial to transforming into this responsive version of yourself.

By following these steps, you can become more mindful and take control of your life. Remember, it takes time and practice to develop these skills, so be patient with yourself and keep working towards your goals