Being Impulsive as an Anxious Person

There’s an odd glitch, somewhere in my personality, that means I’m often an anxious over-thinker and over-planner, but I love trying new things, stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the unexpected.

It took me a long time to realise that these two parts of my personality could co-exist. There’s space for them both and they don’t need to cancel each other out. It just requires a new way of thinking about how you do things. It’s about creating moments and an environment of ‘implusivity’, but allowing them to be explored in a way that feels manageable.

For me, I use ‘impulsive’ interchangeably with ‘thrill-seeking’, because whether they’re planned or not, these decision to commit to these acts and events feels like an impulsive jump outside of the day-to-day, the mundane and the self-imposed limitations that I want to break away from.

It’s these moments of stepping outside your comfort zone that make life what it is. It reminds me that I am alive and I feel grateful to have the freedom to try something new.

If you’re like me and want to recognise your own anxieties and natural habits but challenge them with your impulsive, thrill-seeking nature too, then here’s a few things that I have found useful and might help you too!

Note: Of course, I appreciate that everyone’s level of nervousness and anxiety (whether diagnosed or circumstantial) differs and these tips won’t suit everyone, but hopefully you’ll be able to adapt them so that you’re still able to achieve what you want in life by taking even the tiniest of steps – they all count!

Plan for future ‘impulsive’ acts

Okay, it may not be truly ‘impulsive’ but it’s about creating an accessible feeling of being impulsive, without stressing yourself out or creating unnecessary anxiety. For me, I approach this by exploring something that’s slightly outside my comfort zone and thinking “I’ll do it!” – but then I plan for it a few days or weeks in advance. It still feels exciting, but I’m giving my mind time to accept that it’s happening.

Commit to the thing

Whenever you decide to do something new, the hardest part is always the booking or arranging of it. This is the point where you can decide to just click off the page or pretend like you were never interested. However, if you click ‘book’, part with your money or put it in your calendar, you’re less likely to try and back out of doing it. Once you’re in, you’re in.

Talk to people about it

Whatever the thing is that you’ve decided to do (whether that’s joining a group, starting a project, doing a solo trip… the list goes on!), let people know that you’re doing it. The sooner you put it out there that it’s happening, the more committed to the action you will feel. It becomes part of the plan.

Take baby steps

Say you have an ultimate dream goal that you’d like to achieve (for me, it’s always solo travel), you can help prepare yourself for the final boost of courage when you actually book or arrange the thing by doing smaller, but still new and slightly scary things around it.

For example, I want to always remind myself that I am brave enough to just do things. So, I do this by signing myself up to doing random, fun things that push me slightly out of my comfort zone. I’ve previously done this by spontaneously signing up to do hot yoga or sending a message asking someone if they’d like to collaborate on a project without giving myself time to talk myself out of it.

As you build your confidence and get used to doing more out-of-the-blue things, it will get easier each time you do it. And you can move on to bigger and better things as and when you choose!

Make a list of ‘impulsive’ things you want to do

Whether big or small, create a list of things you’d really like to do if you weren’t worried about feeling nervous or anxious about it. It could be joining a book club, going on a group swim in the sea, visiting a new place or anything that you fancy.

Once you have this list, you could promise yourself that you’ll tick off one new thing a month or that when the opportunity arises for one of these things, you’ll do it. The act of booking it in and doing it will still feel like an impulsive decision, but you’ll have prepared yourself for that moment.

Be prepared to accept when you’re not ready, but challenge it when you can be brave

It’s important to recognise whether you’re talking yourself out of doing something you’d really like to do just because you feel the typical nerves around trying something new. There’s a difference between knowing you’re not ready yet (which is fine!) and trying to find reasons to get out of something.

Be kind to yourself, if you’re not ready then just put it back on the list for another day. But if you can be brave, try and take a step back and consider why you’re talking yourself out of it and whether you can challenge what you’re telling yourself.

It might take some mental reframing, but it’s a bit like working a muscle – the more you can assess how you’re thinking and the stories you’re telling yourself, the easier it will be to catch yourself doing it in the future.

How do you create feelings of excitement and impulsivity in your day-to-day life?

Or, do you do any of the above tips already? Share your thoughts and ideas below, I’d love to hear!

Photo credit: Madison

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