Urge Surfing

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Lately I have been trying some ‘urge surfing’. What is that? Sounds like it might be cool but how do you do it? It is a good thing to do but not what you might think at all. No beaches or water are needed.

The ‘urge’ you are to surf are unwanted urges. Such as the urge to buy a huge bar of chocolate and eat it on the spot. Or the urge to kick someone in the shins if they are boring you. Or whatever you have a feeling you want to do that is coming in from the sea of your emotions but to do that thing is against your values, contrary to your goals.

The idea of urge surfing is that you observe the ‘need’ to do something rise in you. Watch it as it grows like a swell coming in from the ocean. Give it a mark out of ten. Is it a 2 or a 7 or a 9? Instead of resisting it like a rock and have the urge crash into you, let it be and watch it pass. Just let it be.

It really does feel like a wave passing through. I like the idea of ‘surfing’ an urge. Resisting an urge is hard work and uses up energy until you are tired and you just end up giving in. Surfing it not easy as you have to be ready to surf the urge and not get caught up in the surge. A big wave can still catch you out. I surfed the urge to eat biscuits at work for a couple of days until it caught me out and I still ate some. But at least I managed for a while and it is low effort. It takes practice. Best not to have such foods around the place.

Thanks to Russ Harris for his useful book ‘The Happiness Trap’ for urge surfing and many useful tools.

The Happiness Trap (Based on ACT: A revolutionary mindfulness-based programme for overcoming stress, anxiety and depression)