If you’re currently in recovery or in the midst of trying to get rid of a habit that’s having a negative impact on your life, then you need to buckle up and learn how to deal with urges. For quite some time now, these urges are gonna be a part of your daily life now. The faster you accept the fact, the easier recovery becomes.
Once you stop revolving your day around these urges, a lot of doors open up for you. Acceptance allows you to figure out why the urges are occurring, the pattern surrounding them, and how you can deal with it. You can figure out what is it that triggers these urges and how can you make it stop. It can be anything under the sun. Our brain picks up things at random sometimes, so sometimes these triggers might not even make sense to you. But mostly it’ll be things you’re familiar with within your daily life.
Why you feel these urges
Cravings play a huge role as they are the precursors that lead to you engaging in your problematic behaviour. Once a craving strikes and your willpower is low, then you have no option but to obey the craving. Addiction rewires our brain, as a result of which we get stuck with our habits. It’s like a little voice in our heads, telling us what to do. Even if whatever it is we’re doing is not good for us. If you want to change this habit of yours, you need to find ways to deal with these thoughts and feelings associated with our triggers and cravings. This way you won’t automatically give in anytime you come across a trigger or crave something.
Simply put, urges are a result of these cravings. Which in turn are a result of long term substance use. These urges or cravings are the topmost cause for relapse among recovering addicts. One random urge and people tend to give in even after long periods of abstinence.
For example, if you’re someone who has successfully avoided alcoholic beverages for over three months now, all it might take to break that resolve is being offered a drink. Although you might not have wanted that drink, the moment you see it, your brain automatically gets triggered and craves for it. The same goes for someone trying to quit a behavioural addiction like porn. In such a case, the urges are even stronger because we reside in a highly sexualised world. Pornographic content is everywhere. One peak and your resolve might just come to end right then and there. This is how cravings make you irrational and take away your ability to think about your wellbeing. This can happen often if you’re not focused on maintaining a strong willpower.
Just a fun fact, Buddhist monks consider cravings and urges to be one of the main toxins polluting our brains. This is not only in relation to substance abuse, how our doctors tend to see it. Buddhists consider attachment to any object or situation a form of addiction.
Here’s how you can deal with these urges
If you’re serious about your recovery, then you need to first figure out how to deal with these urges. More importantly, you need to figure out what works for you in particular. Something that you see on the internet that works for everyone might not work for. We’re all different with different needs. So, experiment and see which method or approach suits you best.
After conducting extensive research, here are 5 approaches that can help you deal with urges.
Under this approach, you label the urge that is enabling the addiction for exactly what it is. If you call it something innocent like a craving then your brain will harmlessly act on it, feeding into your addiction. Instead, you need to create caution. By doing this, you teach your brain how to react to such an urge. For example, now if you feel the need to open up a private browser and watch porn, your brain becomes alert. You won’t automatically give in to the temptation, no matter how strong it is. It might take some time and effort to do this but this is really useful.
Once you feel the urge coming up to do something, remove yourself from the situation that is provoking it. Leave that space, physically. If you’re watching a movie with your friend/partner and an explicit scene comes up then there is no shame in excusing yourself from the room or asking to change the channel. When you focus on getting away from the situation, it should calm the urge down and distract you until you feel secure again. That’ll help reduce the intensity of the urge.
Come up with a list of things, activities of the sort that you enjoy. These are the activities you’ll turn to every time there’s an urge. This is a way to distract your brain, helping it focus on something else other than the cravings. If you have a premade list ready and stored away or memorised then you won;t waste any time thinking of an activity. Make sure these are all activities you personally enjoy. Don’t force yourself to do anything, it’s important you genuinely enjoy the activity you choose. Because, when we partake in a pleasurable activity, our body gets a surge of dopamine and a brand new circuitry is created in our brain. This is what’ll help get rid of the urges.
This is one of the simpler approaches that requires you to work on your willpower. Every Time you have an urge, just calm down and wait. Give your mind and body some time to process it. Normally it should go away over time if you delay it enough and distract yourself. If you’ve given sufficient time and the urge is still there it might be due to the fact that you are still exposed to the stimulus that birthed the urge in the first place. Just have the willpower to deny giving in for just a few minutes. Make up your mind that you can do this. Just stick to this every time you get an urge and over time watch the number of urges reduce in number.
Pick up the habit of meditation. There are several methods of meditation. Do some research, experiment, and figure out what works best for you. This single activity can help a lot as it lets you revalue and helps you stay focused on what’s important. It helps you remind yourself why you’re doing all of this in the first place. All the negative effects the addiction/habit has had on your life, that has led to you making this decision. Remind yourself what would happen if you continue down the same path without doing anything about your addiction. Just giving in.
In simple terms, set your priorities straight. Your addiction has fooled your brain into thinking that this thing is the highest priority. This approach will help detox and rewire your mind to help get rid of the urges.
You can try all of these techniques individually or even try bits and pieces of it together. Give it a shot and see what works best for you. Just remember, you’re better than your “urges”. Don’t give in!