THE "HALT" STRATEGY AND THE WILLPOWER RESERVE
NEVER MOVE FORWARD WHEN IMPAIRED AND STUPID
We talk elsewhere of using timeouts in order to stop ourselves from damaging relationships. The "time out" strategy is essentially a "stop immediately" and recover your "thinking ability" so that you can make a better choice. (And note that "thinking ability" might not return in 15 minutes or very quickly at all!)
As discussed, we use "HALT" as both a strategy AND as an indicator of when to implement the strategy. "HALT" indicates you should stop whenever you are
3. Lonely (or otherwise down and not thinking well)
You stop and reconsider whether to continue and typically you take a break. Obviously, you would seek to solve the problems of any of those, but you would not act on ANYTHING else that requires a good decision or "acting" well or appropriately.
It means you should never act on the "impulse" because you are "thinking impaired."
USE THESE "SIMPLE RULES"
You can operate off the simple rules and put them clearly in mind ahead of time and even habitualize them. The rules are simple:
1. Stop whatever is going on, and use established rules that are decided ahead of time!
2. If hungry, eat (good food) - and drink water!
3. If angry, calm down fully, first - and drink water!
4. If lonely, call someone and/or get around people or start some strategy not to remain lonely - and drink water and eat something nutritious! (But the idea is to gain recovery. Until then, you will not be able to think, so don't act on anything else, as it is bound to be "unsmart".)
5. If tired, rest - and drink water!
6. Breathe deeply and slowly until stabilized! (Even when tired)
Rest, food, water, breathing are all ingredients that will increase one's ability to make good decisions. So, make it a rule to do all of those, and to not go forward until you are fully refreshed and able to think, with high energy (normally, this will occur only in the morning!). [Some people will need to put this on a reminder card, perhaps in one's wallet. AND I would recommend that they commit this to memory, so that it can be recalled when needed!]
And never try to violate these rules because you somehow think you have, or "should have", the power to overcome "gravity" [the physical reality effect of depleting physical resources], or some type of wishful thinking - don't break the law!
EXTREME ALERTNESS FOR DANGER AND LOSS OF APPROVAL
Those people who are people pleasers or approval addicts will often feel under extreme pressure to not be thought of as anything but perfect and wonderfully moral. That depletes their resources (willpower reserves, psych energy, ego strength) so they end up unable to make good decisions (even more than usual).
Consequently, they MUST have a rule of "don't make decisions" in that moment (or that state) - they must have a way to put those decisions off in order to recover from the thinking impairment and to have a better chance at making a good decision. You can rely on the fact that the people who use up alot of their energy trying to people please, be on guard against any loss of approval, and being superalert to every possible signal of "danger" will often be operating at an almost constant state of depletion and inability to make good decisions for one's self.
Such a person will have no ability to enact counter arguments nor to hold the line and will often end up being "talked into" doing something "against their will". (Essentially, the had insufficient "will" left to fight even the weakest enemy.)
Include in this group anyone who has low self confidence and a sense of low control in their lives, for they must live with the vigilance of a cat on a hot tin roof, never knowing what life and circumstances supposedly outside their control will do to them!
All of these people, because of their hypervigilance and being on guard, will often live in a constant state of pressure, anxiety, and stress, all made worse by being constantly depleted, so that they make decisions poorly. And their thinking ability will most often be highly impaired - even if they are "intelligent" people!!!
And, to add "insult to injury", they will be so narrowly focused on possible danger that they will not have enough attention units left over to notice any information of significance that might be useful plus they will lose their perspective on life, unable to even rise up to a decent level of thinking. (You must understand how "attention" works in life, so read the linked article at least.)
They need to build structure into their lives (to reduce the number of decisions that have to be made and which will deplete resources badly), including set up lots of rules ahead of time and developing many pre-established ways of acting (aka habits). Note that habits enable effortless, automatic behaviors that do not require decision power nor deplete decision power.
And they need to diligently work on correcting their erroneous beliefs! They should study psychology (and master it!) and what causes anxiety and needless fear. (All of these are discussed, with strategies, on this site.)
ANY TIME OF STRESS IS DEPLETING
As noted in The Willpower Reserve, any decisions made will deplete reserves. Thus it is important to make as few decisions as possible - even deciding what clothes to wear (set it up the night before), or what to do in the morning (decide ahead and list it out) even.
Even Obama decided: "You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits," [Obama] said. "I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make." (See the article in FastCompany.) If you truly want to live a great life, you must minimize stress and not believe that you can handle it as if you are not a limited human being with limited resources. Only when you thoroughly learn how to minimize stress, pace oneself, be virtually constantly calm and breathing deeply will you be able to live a good or great life!
It is a foolish figment of imagination to think that one can escape the consequences and rise above all things with super-human strength and/or, somehow, manage to make up for it later. In fact, those who are constantly intending to right their ship "later" never seem to get to "later" - it never arrives! Those who are driven with "shoulds" or uncontrolled addictions to approval cannot overcome the consequences of allowing those to continue to run their lives - they must, rather than battling them, eliminate them from their lives!
Otherwise, they will be caught in the downward spiral of stress, depletion, poor decisions and poor results, further impairment and worse decisions. This spiral MUST BE intervened in and interrupted and then each piece must be solved. (Read and understand Solve The Cause, Not Just The Symptoms - Each Time You Do That, You Advance Your Life. Yes, people who are caught in the spiral will tend to not engage fully in learning and solving, because their resources are so depleted, too depleted to do much learning - yikes! - but they must somehow focus on that and eliminate all other distractions and energy users so that they can gather enough power to move forward.)