“The man who overcomes his desires is braver than he who overcomes his enemies.” - Aristotle
While the modern era prides itself on science and knowledge, the brain continues to remain much of a mystery. We have many theories, often associated with evolution, as to why people behave in certain ways or why people experience strong emotions. Yet, it isn’t an exact science by any means.
And innate urges are part of this! At the end of the day, we all have urges. Our hunger drives us to eat. The reward center of our brain might further prompt us to buy a product or indulge in a meaningless one-night stand. Whatever the case may be, our brain fuels our urges, and it often rewards us with dopamine and serotonin when we’ve given in to those urges.
Yet, not all urges are good. The Britannica Dictionary refers to urge as “a strong need or desire to have or do something.” This can include eating to simmer down an emotion, buying to feel good, or reaching for a cigarette when you feel that need arise. Luckily, there’s a new way in town to override these urges; it’s called urge surfing!
Urge surfing is a mindfulness technique that allows you to simply observe an urge without actually acting on the impulse. Simply put, it involves a form of meditation where imagine surfing that wave (which is used as a metaphor for your urge), letting it pass.
Like a wave, urges can feel strong and intense. But they don’t usually last. If you ignore them, they will continue on their way.
Many experts further believe this is a very effective and efficient technique since it doesn’t involve ignoring the urge. Instead of ignoring it, which often causes an urge to become stronger, you recognize and observe the urge, but you don’t allow it to control you.
And here’s the other thing: Urges don’t typically last longer than 30 minutes. Thus, if you can ride that wave and overcome it, you’ll, generally, be in the clear within half an hour.
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Urge surfing can be particularly beneficial for those that are trying to quit a bad habit, such as smoking or eating when you’re not hungry.
For instance, the urge to reach for a cigarette might arise, even though you’ve gone days without one. Instead of ruminating on it, take note of it and how your body feels. Where do you feel the urge? Be curious about it and notice changes in it.
Then, sit and imagine you’re riding a surfboard over a wave. Imagine yourself riding that wave and eventually, moving past it into calmer waters. And don’t worry, if you’re unsure how exactly to urge surf, we’re going to lay it all out below.
So, you’ve got an urge. It doesn’t particularly matter what it is. This technique applies to a broad range of urgers, helping you tackle your demons and control your life. Here’s how you do it:
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Use the above technique to ride that urge! A few more tips:
Try it out! And remember, give it a few rounds before you throw in the towel.
Additionally, depending on the urge you’re trying to kick, you may also benefit from gaining support from a professional therapist. They can offer further techniques to help you become the master of your life!
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