HOne of the most transformative tools I teach my clients is how to allow an urge.Whenever we want to stop doing something, whether that is to stop overdrinking, stop over eating, stop checking phones for messages, stop cleaning, stop texting that ex-boyfriend, then it is vital to master this skill. Often times there is confusion between what it means to ‘allow’ an urge vs. ‘resisting” it. As a result, I wanted to clear that up in today’s blog post with a powerful analogy.

When we commit to stopping a behavior that is not serving us, we will often be faced with urges prompting us to give in and do the very thing we are trying to stop. Not doing the behavior is actually the easy part, but what is difficult for all of us is the feeling that you will have immediately after you don’t give in.

Let’s say you commit to stop overdrinking during the week. You put your children to bed and sit down to watch your favorite show, and you are prompted to get a glass of wine. Not pouring the wine is the easy part.  The hard part is dealing with the feeling of deprivation, restlessness, or anxiety that immediately comes up when we say NO. Like an annoying toddler the urge can be demanding and often times irresistible.

We want to open the door to the negative feeling and continue doing what we were doing before it showed up.

I like to use the following analogy to show the difference between resisting vs. allowing an urge and the feeling of restlessness that immediately follows. When restlessness comes knocking at the door after we have said no to a third glass of wine resistance is akin to pushing your whole body against the door while restlessness is trying to get in and you are yelling back. You exhaust yourself by pushing and yelling back to keep it out.  

Conversely if we are allowing the restlessness, then when it comes knocking at the door we open up show them the chair in the back of the room and get back to what we were doing before. We allow the negative feeling to be there, but we continue doing what we are doing minus the exhaustion.

In real time you roll your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and open up to the feeling of restlessness you invite it in.When we allow an urge and give it the space to be there, it dissipates.When we are in resistance, we often clench our teeth, hold our breath, tighten our stomach and exhaust ourselves. This exhaustion prevents us from being able to do other things like work on our computer, fold laundry, or watch our favorite show. Resistance actually makes it more likely that we will give in.

Remember too that an urge is just an intense desire caused by our thinking.If we reward that desire, or if we give the screaming toddler the ice cream that perpetuates the desire, the more we reward it, and the stronger the urge becomes. 

To break this cycle, we have to be willing to allow the urge and to feel the feeling that emerges when we don’t give in. Eventually the screaming toddler figures out that you don’t give in and will stop asking for the ice cream.

This is freedom, my friends!

If you want to learn how to apply this skill to a specific behavior you want to stop doing, reach out for a consultation call. Limited spots are available, so don’t delay!  http://bit.ly/2rD8YZk

Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, Certified Life & Weight Coach
17+ years of mental health experience and work in transformation


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