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Impulsivity and THE PARIS APARTMENT by Lucy Foley

Jess needs to start over. She hastily departed her last job, then hoped a train to Paris where her brother, Ben, was supposed to be waiting for her. But, when she arrived at Ben’s suspiciously luxurious apartment, Jess found it empty except for a cat with blood on its’ paw. As she meets the eclectic people living in the building, Jess realizes everyone there has something to hide.

As Jess investigates her brother’s disappearance, she repeatedly finds herself in situations where she has to choose between safety and clear danger. Almost without exception, Jess picks the most dangerous option. For example, when she finds a hidden stairwell, she takes it from the relative safety of her brother’s apartment into a locked basement. When she thinks the cute guy in the building may have something to do with her brother’s disappearance, she still manages to kiss him. The list continues but contains too many spoilers for me to continue in good faith.

When Jess experiences an urge or an impulse, she acts on it. Like Jess, many people struggle with impulse control, which is highly correlated with excessive risk-taking, substance abuse, and binge eating (and, maybe, going into dark Parisian alley next to potential murderers?).

How do you know if your impulsivity is problematic? Check the facts.

  • Have you impetuously physically or emotionally harmed yourself or others?

  • Do you say things you don’t mean?

  • Do your behaviors sometimes feel extreme?

  • Do you suddenly change your plans?

  • Are you constantly starting over?

  • Do you share personal information with untrustworthy people?

  • …And do you do (the above) without considering the consequences?

If you, like Jess, trend yes to your answers to the above questions, you can control your impulsive behavior in many ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Intentionally slow down; when faced with decisions, give yourself a mandatory waiting period before deciding.

  • Set up preventative roadblocks that get in the way of rash decisions. For example, if you overspend, don’t carry much cash or any credit cards.

  • Identify the feelings that trigger your impulsivity. Keep in mind that stress is a very common trigger. When you recognize the triggering feeling, try to do something that proactively helps calm the emotion. For example, if the triggering feeling is overwhelmed, take deep breaths instead of engaging in risky behavior.

  • Play the scene through; make yourself identify the potential consequences of your behaviors BEFORE you act.

Maybe if Jess had controlled her impulses a little more, she wouldn’t have ended up in her brother’s scary apartment building. But, as much as I hope you readers use the skills outlined in this post, I have to tell you that I’m glad Jess is so flawed that she made her way here – it makes for a thrilling story.

Note: Interested in impulsivity? Read my post on Carrie Soto is Back.


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