The Rise and Fall of Urges:
Surfing the Emotional Wake
It is more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality. —Virginia Wolf
A recent study in Germany suggests that we spend a full quarter of our waking hours resisting urges. Yes, our desires are frequent, variable in intensity and largely unproblematic. Our urges create conflict within ourselves and can intensify to the point that we act on them, even when our best selves do not want us to. If you are longing to make a positive change in your life, such as getting in right relationship with food or with others or even with living the life you want, there is science around resisting urges. Confidence to resist urges begins with fully experiencing them. As we feel an impulse to do something we are trying to change, we can practice fully accepting the urge rather than pretending it is not there. Notice that urges crest, then dissipate, like an ocean wave. Once the urge is fully accepted, we spend less energy on it than if we try to control it. Getting to know the urge and exploring how it is in conflict with your larger goals and dreams will weaken it. This leaning into it keeps us from acting on it. A vice delayed is often a vice avoided. Surf the urges, don’t stuff them!
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. —Viktor E. Frankl