A big thank you to coach Cary Colleran for this piece.
I have this alter ego that really gets me in trouble. She is impulsive, loud, and she has a really foul mouth. She isn’t mean, in fact, she means well. She thinks she is funny, and sometimes she is… until she isn’t. That’s where things get fuzzy because that line of when she is funny and when she goes too far gets pretty blurry in the moment.
Her name is Pixie, and she is always whispering in my ear and telling me that she is going to be really funny and everyone will love it. There came a time when I had to come to terms with the fact that she needed a bit more oversight. I had to learn how to reign in my impulsivity.
I have quite a few clients at the moment that have their own power struggles with their inner impulsivity. It is more complicated than it sounds, actually, but it is a struggle that I hold close to my heart.
For most of my life, Pixie called the shots. I could be sitting in class, minding my own business, and then she would come crashing in and before I knew it I was sitting at the back of the class facing the wall. How did I even get there? What was going on??
As I got older, Pixie was often the life of the party, but then she would go too far and I’d wake up the next day with that pit in my stomach, wondering if I had said the wrong things…
What I learned later in life is that Pixie doesn’t show up unannounced. She loves a grand entrance. My whole body could actually feel her showing up: My heart starts racing, and I almost get tunnel vision. I am zoned in and waiting for her to pounce. I almost stop listening to anything that is happening and focus on the moment that she can be unleashed. Now that I can tell when Pixie is entering the picture, I can rein her in before anyone else knows she is there. When my “body tells” give her away, I am ready with my deep breath. I have trained myself to ask permission for her to join the party…. Is this an appropriate time for Pixie to be invited? Sometimes the answer is yes, but it is my choice, not hers. And sometimes the answer is no.
If I am going to be in an environment that seems to give her an automatic invitation, then I plan for that in advance. When I’m going to a social gathering, she always assumes she is invited. I have to ask myself questions before I go. Who is coming to this gathering? Are they close friends, or more acquaintances? Will anyone work related be there? Because my audience matters. When I have a client that has trouble reining in the impulsive monster within during math class, then we need to have a plan for that. Then we need to know what it feels like if the monster crashes the party, because the time to pause isn’t when we open our mouths to blurt something out. The time to pause is when our heart starts racing, or when our palms sweat. That is when we can ask, “do I need to be the funniest person right now, or can I let someone else have that?”
Kids seem relieved when I tell them that their impulsive side is alright. We don’t have to get rid of it. Pixie is part of me and sometimes it’s fun to let her out. But she can’t run the show and make me feel bad later. That isn’t fair. So it is all about choosing the right moments. Once our impulsivity is invited, anything can happen, so choose wisely.
About the author: Cary Colleran is an ADHD Coach that lives in Parker, CO with her husband and 3 kids. She graduated from San Jose State with a BA and a minor in Child Development. After her oldest went to college, she went back to school for ADHD specific training through ADDCA and soon after started ADHD Navigator. She has worked with hundreds of kids and teens, is a paid speaker through Douglas County School District for teacher and counselor training, teaches adult classes, and assists with school 504 meetings. She is passionate about helping ADHD people use their ADHD to succeed.
Image: Pixabay/Ryan McGuire