Living a healthy and respectable life is all about negotiation. It is about getting our needs met. And not meeting the needs of our bodily impulses that will harm us.
Lets look more in depth in the topic of learning healthy negotiation skills with our emotional impulses. Learning how to see when these impulses point at our bodily needs that need fulfillment, or past energies that may need some closure.
Negotiation With our Impulses?
To negotiate is to communicate with the purpose of reaching agreements. I generally hear the word in the realm of business and hostage retrieval. But we all negotiate terms many times a day with ourselves. Of course with other people but here we are talking about our relationship with the constant flow of impulses that are coming from within our bodies. In fact, the first negotiation I usually make in my day is whether or not I will hit my snooze button or simply wake up when the alarm goes off the first time. I generally do wake up right away because I enjoy money and making it to work on time. My desire for more sleep expresses itself, but at least most of the time I cannot accept its terms.
Then throughout the day I am nudged by many impulses to act. Many of the requests are clearly acceptable so I agree to them. Like putting my jacket on because it’s cold outside, or grabbing a bite to eat because of hunger. Others can be pretty absurd and so I cannot. As in, sorry anger impulse it wouldn’t be appropriate to curse your client out at this moment. Some requests are in the middle and require a little extra thought for me to make a decision. We are pretty much constantly negotiating with ourselves.
This concept of continuous negotiation with ourselves may not be something that we think about often, or maybe ever. But it is happening all the time and getting the most out of it requires that we wake up to the process.
Waking up to the Negotiation.
To be awake to this process takes effort. It takes reminding ourselves that a healthy life is a process of allowing these impulses to find fulfillment in acceptable ways or even closure. Staying awake to responsibly negotiate requires us to get to know ourselves on much more than a surface level. It requires us to be pay attention to our bodies requests, and be the compassionate but stern gatekeepers for how those requests are met. Sometimes these impulses should not be given the time of day, and sometimes we better meet their needs, or else.
As addicts in recovery we at My Life Experiment have had to learn a great deal about negotiating successfully with our bodily impulses. Here are some ideas that we have developed over the years.
1. Regularly step away from the negotiation.
Our bodies are constantly sending us impulses to take of all sorts of things. Some sane, others not so much. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of their requests, and with their stronger demands. At times it is easy to keep up with all these impulses. Other times there is a sort of paralyzed feeling, unaware of how to proceed with this backlog of energy.
Stepping away from the negotiating is extremely important to do regularly. It is intensely beneficial to our minds and bodies to just sit, take deep breathes, and feel these impulses. In this time we should not think about how we should take care of our next impulse, just feel it. Forget about dinner prep, work tomorrow, how the kids are doing, how the bills will get paid, etc… After sitting with these energies non-judgmentally you can go right back to all those thoughts, possibly with more clarity on how to handle them.
2. Goals are important.
It is important to have goals for our futures. We can use these goals to help guide us to the ways we should get our needs met. Take the need for food for example. If I have the goal of losing 10 pounds this month, I should probably get that need taken care of with food that will help that goal happen.
Without goals for the future it can be extremely difficult to negotiate healthy outcomes for our impulses. And much easier to take the “easy way out.” Seeking quick fixes, and not thinking enough about what we deeply desire for the direction of our lives. If you want to learn more about setting these goals here is a nice WikiHow page on the subject of goal setting.
3. Learn to Differentiate an impulse that Needs Fulfillment or Needs Closure.
It is very true that not all of the impulses that come from our bodies are needs. We have plenty of wants that seek our attention as well. Some of these wants reasonable, others not so much.
Meeting or needs and reasonable wants in healthy ways is very important. I would say that our lives depend on this. But those other impulses that are all wrapped up in energy from unmet needs long in the past need something different. What these impulses need is closure. They need to be felt. Not acted upon since they are no longer connected to the realities that we are currently coping with.
Learning to differentiate a need and reasonable want from these no longer viable impulses requires us to get to know ourselves. When we get that feeling of confusion about where an impulse is coming from, there are some things that can be done. Such as doing some therapeutic writing, chatting with a trusted friend, or seeking some professional help. Through these processes we can get to know whether we should go ahead and act on the impulse, or let it fade away into the background.
4. Do not Negotiate with but Love Impulse Terrorists.
There have been times in my recovery where I have had to navigate intense emotions that desired to act on in ways that would have had negative consequences for me. When not acting on them, there is a feeling of an “internal temper tantrum.’ I get the feeling of a little child laying on the floor pounding and kicking away, when the impulse does not get its way. In a way, the impulse is trying to terrorize us into getting what it wants.
When dealing with energies like this I find it important to not give in to them. To not negotiate with them, but that doesn’t mean neglect them either. This impulse needs closure, it is hurting, it needs some love, and possibly to be grieved. If I am not feeling that I can give it the loving attention it needs. Then I need to go to outside sources, such as trusted friends, or possibly for professional support.
5. Track Progress of Pesky Impulses.
When struggling with acting on impulses in ways that benefit the healthy self we desire to be, tracking our progress can be beneficial. When noticing an impulse that we habitually meet in unhealthy ways, mark it down in a notebook. Name the habit, talk about what that impulse feels like, thoughts that go with it, etc.. Then check back in with the notebook to report progress weekly or monthly, depending on how pesky the impulse is and how quickly change is desired.
That is all we have for today, and thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth. We wish you growth on your path of learning healthy negotiation with your bodily impulses. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
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My Life Experiment
Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.