TBI: Do you find you are on a ‘short fuse?’

By John Hatten, TBI Coach & Counselor, Survivor of TBI

Impulse control is one of the topics that gets families the most upset: often they’re OK with the concentration and communication problems, but the impulsiveness wears them down. We survivors will find our lives, in the long run, much easier and more fulfilling when we work (hard and diligently) into improving our social skills. We will find, as I did, that “going off” just doesn’t work: it hurts as we do it and it hurts even more later, when people start avoiding us and we start losing friends and hurting our family and loved ones. I know I lost a number of friends through my impulsiveness, my anger and my depression.

Brain injury often involves acting out angrily or otherwise inappropriately. If we want to keep our relationships with people intact, we need to learn to control ourselves. I have some tips below, but the main idea behind these is that we survivors need to start “thinking ahead” rather than responding.

Here’s some things that we can do to take control of our impulses. Counting to ten does help! By giving ourselves time to process the information we’re getting, we can then decide more rationally how to react.

Another tactic is to “consider the source”: that is, think about what you know about the person. Usually you will find that that person is behaving predictably: in other words, they are just being who they are (nasty as that might be). My wife Shirley coined an expression: “Those who expect irrational people to behave rationally are themselves being irrational.”

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