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Impulsivity/Inhibition Tip Sheet

Impulsivity is the conscious or unconscious inability to suppress or refrain from engaging in an action or thought. Problems with impulsivity are very common in individuals with brain injury. It is important to remember that the impulsivity is at fault, not the person.

What Impulsivity/Inhibition Can Look Like

  • Saying or doing things without thinking or without regard for safety (thrill seeking or sensation seeking behaviors)
  • Trouble knowing when to stop an activity
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty in managing finances (budgeting)
  • Sexual promiscuity/irritability/temper outbursts
  • Controlling or disrupting conversations


  • Stop → Think → Act! When you notice yourself acting on the first thing that pops into your mind, STOP and count to 3 while you think about the possible outcomes of what you are about to do.
  • Utilize breathing techniques such as breathing in through your nose, hold your breath for 6 seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth.
  • If you find yourself disrupting conversations, try silently repeating the question(s) to yourself before offering an answer and/or bring a notepad with you to write down your thoughts as they pop into your head.
  • Take frequent physical brain breaks.
  • Write down step-by-step instructions or create a checklist to help yourself complete tasks or instructions.