Surfing your urge

If you’re like me, you’ve got a weakness for one food or another. For most of us it’s the sweet and sugary stuff. When the urge strikes, it can be awfully hard not to succumb.
Of course, the same applies to more than just food.The need to binge on TV, or shop on the internet, or (pick something that applies to you) can make it seem that our behavior is being hijacked by an outside force.

To crave is to be human perhaps.

But when our need for a fix results in some loss of control, and we lose the ability to say ‘no’ – maybe it’s time to come up with a new strategy.

Kelly McGonigal, who wrote The Willpower Instinct, suggests approaching your urges as if they were waves and you were the surfer.

When the urge hits, and you have the presence of mind to recognize that giving in to the urge will not serve you in the long run (this is key), her recommendation is to do the following:

  • Notice the sensations you’re experiencing. What are you feeling? One of the things I’ve learned in coaching is that our negative emotions can be a signal of an unmet need (for love, connection, adventure, sleep, etc.). Appreciating this reality may help you understand what may be behind the craving.
  • Focus on your breathing, gently slowing it down and paying attention to your breath. It will help bring you into this moment (a rare opportunity for some) and help you become more fully aware.
  • Imagine that you are surfing the craving (with a bit of imagination even a non-surfer can get into this exercise). Ride the wave with a spirit of curiosity until it dissipates. Our craving, like each wave, eventually subsides.
  • Consider doing this exercise while walking in the great outdoors, if you can, or while listening to music. These will help take you out of your usual mindset and open up new possibilities.

Give it a try.

It’s guaranteed to help you take your life off auto pilot and put you back in control.

Happy surfing!

Barry
Head Coach

p.s. Speaking of surfing, when Nonie and I were traveling last year we took this video of people surfing a canal in the city of Munich: https://vimeo.com/213590909?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749

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