Make Your Resolutions Stick, Learn To Urge Surf

A simple tool to help you begin to recognize and manage your feelings.

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When I can tear myself away from Chicago, I love to vacation near an ocean. I find the waves completely captivating, although I probably should be paying more attention to my kids, who are swimming in those swells. Every seven seconds and with nothing to stop them. The waves, I mean, and, well the kids too.

What does this have to do with keeping your resolutions? I’m glad you asked!

These past few week social media had been flooded with everyone’s resolutions and ways to reach your goals. I’m sure you’ve noticed too. (Don’t miss my post on goal setting) In reading so many of your resolutions it reminded me a of a strategy, based on research, that will help you actually make those resolutions stick.

So, Amy, what about the ocean is going to help with my resolutions?

In the field of mindfulness and psychology there’s an amazing concept called URGE SURFING, while it is typically used in treating addictions, it can be applied in SO many areas of our everyday lives, mine included.

The notion behind urge surfing is just like it sounds. When you get an urge to do something, (which is usually what results in not meeting our resolutions), you surf that urge, you ride it out.

Let’s break it down a little more.

Say your resolution is to lose weight. Suddenly, you find yourself standing in your kitchen, late at night, desperately looking for something to eat. You know late night eating isn’t good for you, but behind that behavior is a feeling.

This is the part to pay attention to! It is the feeling you are experiencing that you must identify but more importantly understand.

So what now?

You ride that wave, you learn to surf, you start to URGE surf.

Now you start to recognize the feeling and as a result of just recognizing it, the urge to engage in the behavior starts to reduce.

You could also step out of the kitchen just for a minute or so. Feelings typically don’t last much longer than 60-90 seconds, although that is not to say there isn’t another feeling behind it (sort of like a wave).

You can also take a few deep breaths. Did you notice you are about to engage in a behavior that is not healthy for you?

The crucial point of this exercise is: you are starting to learn to surf those waves. Try to put some time between the feeling you are having and the behavior you are about to partake in, (likely not a healthy choice).

As you see, urge surfing can apply to behaviors such as; making poor choices around food, alcohol or other addictive behaviors. It can even deflect a fight with a partner, friend or even your child. Whatever the feeling, “You can’t stop the wave but you can learn to surf.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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