Do you find yourself reaching for your phone to see if you have got new messages or notifications every now and then? Find it hard to resist the urge to sleep longer when your alarm rings in the morning? Have difficulty stopping eating even after you’re pretty full?
Urges arise in all sorts of ways in our daily lives, and they can control and dictate your life if you let it.
The default tendency of our brain is usually to satisfy our urges almost anytime it’s easy and convenient. While that may provide us with a fleeting sense of gratification, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with what’s best for us in the long run.
Our brain is wired to pursue instant gratification without taking into account how our decisions may impact us in the future.
However, dealing with urges need not be difficult. Here are five simple techniques you can put to use in your life to deal with urges, cravings or to drop bad habits and break of addictive behaviours.
The little-known fact about urges is that they typically last for 15 minutes or in most cases for a much shorter period. They always arise and pass away.
Urge surfing is a great technique that can be applied to avoid acting on any behaviour that you want to reduce or stop. This technique can be applied for anything from trying to stop smoking or overeating, to prevent lashing out or reacting to people.
While trying to stop giving in to an urge, trying to suppress it with our thoughts can ultimately prove to be counter-intuitive and make it even harder to deal with it.
With urge surfing we accept and acknowledge the urge rather than resisting and wishing it would go away.
All urges tend to come in waves. That is, they rise, peak and eventually fall and subside.
A surfer doesn’t try to fight the wave, instead he rides them out. In the same manner, urge surfing is about riding out the urge through the different phases of the waves until it has gone.
When faced with an urge, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits provides a step by step method to put urge surfing into practice,
- Notice when you have an urge. Pause instead of acting on it, and just
sit with it mindfully.
- Notice where the physical sensation of the urge is located in your body. Is it in your stomach? Chest? Mouth? Focus on that area of your body and try to mindfully notice the sensations you feel.
- Allow them to rise and peak, and then crest and subside, like a wave. Just watch them, as if you’re watching a wave. It’s not anything to panic about, it’s just a sensation rising and falling.
With urge surfing, you will realise that the intensity of the urge will significantly diminish within a few minutes, and then it becomes much easier to deal with it.
When the urge is at its peak, it can seem like the only way out is to give in and satisfy it. And that’s where the understanding that all urges are temporary and will pass away can prove to be very helpful.
Apply the 5 second rule
At age 41, Mel Robbins was unemployed, bankrupt, had a failing marriage, drinking problem, and had trouble getting up in the morning and would repeatedly hit the snooze button.