I’m so impulsive: Insufficient self-control/self-discipline

If you have the insufficient self-control/ self-discipline schema it can at times be a lot of fun but it also can wreak havoc on all aspects of your life.

You may also recognize it as difficulty staying on task, a mind that moves rapidly from one topic to the next or as my yoga teachers call it the monkey mind. Please note it is important to distinguish this schema from ADHD, which can create similar difficulties but is neurologically based. Your therapist should screen you for ADHD.

If you have this schema you will likely struggle with self-discipline and / or self- control and this can show up in your life as: 

  • impulsive or reckless choices that you regret later
  • difficulty completing chores and tasks
  • being very distractible
  • having emotional outbursts you regret later
  • having a “screw it, let’s do it” or a “you only live once” attitude that overrides safe limits

Often this schema is associated with impulsive child mode, and this is when extreme behaviours such as thrill-seeking by running red lights, stealing things from a shop, excessive drug and alcohol use, and behaviours that cause social embarrassment later happen.

At best it can lead to constant stress due to being disorganised or failing courses due to not completing assignments or doing routine study in the lead up to exams and at worst it can result in major injuries from doing things like jumping off a bridge with mates or shame the next day as a result of stripping at a party.

This schema is linked to two different unmet needs.

For some people, it develops as the result of the unmet need for freedom. For these people, they expressed too many rules and control in their childhood. They overcompensate with this schema.

In others, it is linked to a chaotic or neglectful childhood that lacked limits and boundary settings. The unmet need is guidance and limits.

Healing this schema is important due to the major damage it can do to your life. It can be tempting not to, especially if your schema is driven by the unmet need for freedom. In treatment, you will build your Healthy Adult to help you meet the need for freedom whilst also guiding yourself to have the necessary limits you need for your wellbeing.


  • Nadene van der Linden

    Nadene van der Linden is a Clinical Psychologist, Accredited EMDR Consultant and Therapist and Advanced Certified Schema Therapist. Nadene has a special interest in trauma and uses active therapy approaches including schema therapy, EMDR, and chairwork therapy techniques. Nadene is a Board Approved Supervisor and supervises and mentors psychologists and other mental health therapists. Nadene offers online training for therapists at nadenevanderlinden.com

    http://schematherapycollective.com support@nadenevanderlinden.com van der Linden Nadene