Urge Surfing

URGE SURFING?

Urge Surfing uses our scientific knowledge of the nervous system and emotional processing to conceptualize a valuable visual depiction and a step-by-step process to ride through triggers, emotional overwhelm, and urges associated with habits and even severe addiction patterns, for both process and substance addictions.

so simple, yet so effective

Urge Surfing is a powerful mindfulness tool. With this practice you'll learn how and why we need to work with our nervous systems instead of trying to work against them. Urge Surfing can become a power-tool in your emotional health toolbox.

requires practice

At first, it is important to practice Urge Surfing daily. Try it when you feel calm, and certainly try it during more subtle states, such as during a twinge of anxiety, urge to overeat, or a slight craving for an addiction. Every urge and anxious feeling is an opportunity to practice Urge Surfing.

neuroplasticity

Practice builds neuroplasticity - think of this as going to the gym to build muscle so you can work into heavy-lifting in due time. The more you practice building your 'calming-muscles' the more capable you are of the heavy-lifting required for big triggers and overwhelming states. 

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

John Kabat Zinn

Urge Surfing

1

TRIGGER

(URGE or SURGE of emotion)

An event has occurred, either external or internal, that has resulted in feeling a level of activation, an emotion, bodily sensation, anxious feeling, craving, looping thought, regret, fear, or belief.

breathe deeply

be willing to feel

locate & LABEL emotions

FEEL WAVE OF INTENSITIES

Remember emotions are real, but they are not based on facts

2

ramp up

The urge or surge of emotion is ramping up and increasing in activation. This fight-or-flight response results in cortisol and adrenaline levels increasing, more rapid heartbeat, thought quickening, and many other physiological effects.

breathe deeply

 

FEEL EMOTIONS IN BODY

SENSATIONS,

temperature,

location,

 intensity, etc.

 

ALLOW self-compassion

 

use your 5 senses

feel your weight

notice smells

Look-around

 identify colors

IDENTIFY SOUNDS

grounding exercises

3

peak

For beginner Urge Surfers, the Peak may hit hard. It may feel like a smack of 'shut-down,' disassociation, powerless, and even fogginess. 

 

With experience, you will allow the ebb and flow of painful emotions, the Peak will begin to feel smooth and perhaps slightly euphoric. Enjoy the ride and know you will soon feel grounded, safe and empowered as deactivation naturally unfolds.

allow for ebb & flow

accept the 'powerless' feeling

allow for sense of 'lifting'

4

FALL

Like a wave, the urge will fall – allow it to be. As your nervous system deactivates (see diagram below) you may feel quivering and stinging 'thawing' as adrenaline levels decrease, heightened sense, and a reintegration with reality.

allow quivering & thawing

accept array of emotions

practice emotional health skills

realize reality

NOTE: YOU MAY BE PROCESSING OLD REPRESSED EMOTIONS WHICH IS HEALING

 

Along for the ride, with deactivation and reintegration, come emotions that allow you to 'let go.' The main emotion responsible for letting go is sadness - whether you like it or not (see Emotional Health page).

 

This isn't the same way you think of "sad" as in hopeless, loss, or disappointment. It is a a subtle, yet clear sense of tugging sadness. Allow it to be. You may even cry which is a good sign. If you attempt to disown your sadness during deactivation, you'll likely find yourself in another wave of urge and emotional overwhelm.

NERVOUS SYSTEM WAVE

Urge Surfing may seem like a ridiculous, cartoon-ish, mindfulness practice for kids. However, when you understand the science behind it, you will see it for the mature, scientifically-proven, empowering practice that it is. Notice how our nervous system activation and deactivation does in fact have a wave effect.

 

anxiety and addiction patterns

The way in which our nervous system is activated is due to our programming. Our previous experiences, stressful situations and perceived threats become part of this programming. In fact, memories are stored at level of emotional activation.

For example, an anxiety attack is a painful experience, and thus, anxiety in of itself becomes a perceived threat - that triggers more anxiety. 

 

If you have been struggling with an addiction, then repeated painful emotions of disappointment, failure, and shame are associated, and thus the mere thought of the addictive substance or process becomes stored as a perceived threat in your brain. The addiction is no longer just a reward, it also triggers a THREAT-RESPONSE in your nervous system

no access to rationale

To make things WORSE, when you're triggered, it's like your executive functioning (human intelligence) is in the trunk of your car, while your fear (lizard brain) is in the driver's seat. Imagine a gremlin driving your car. 

Urge Surfing  TO rationale

Next time you feel a twinge of anxiety, or a subtle urge for a bad habit, the goal is NOT to avoid, cope, or try to force yourself to stop the anxiety or behavior (all of which trigger more activation) - the #1 goal is to regain access to your higher cortex and executive functioning. Otherwise, you are doomed to crash - and repeat bad habits and addictions.

Urge Surfing, overall, is an empowering practice to ride the wave of nervous system activation and deactivation.  Once CALM and centered, you are equipped to make rational choices in alignment with your values and highest good.

ADDITIONAL PRACTICES

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conscious

anxiety

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process

emotions

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conscious

complaining

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inner connecting

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Urge Surfing

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UNPACKING

SHAME

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SELF-

COMPASSION

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SELF-

LEADERSHIP

 

If you are experiencing a crisis or an emergency dial 911 or Crisis Response at 602.222.9444

© 2020 Copyright Creating Your Balance LLC

Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.  It is not intended to substitute for the advice, treatment and/or diagnosis of a qualified licensed professional. Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided may not make any medical diagnoses, claims and/or substitute for your personal physician’s care.