How to master your urges

How to master your urges

How to master your urges

Have you ever felt like punching someone in the face?  Have you ever been talking to someone and you start to wonder what would happen if you just kicked this person in the crotch?  Maybe it’s just me…  but I doubt it.

Let’s take it down a notch.  What do you do what you’re staring silently at your running shoes while your XBOX is whispering sweet nothings in your ear?

At the supermarket, how do you handle the quart of ice cream that keeps trying to jump into your cart?  How did you even wind up in that isle in the first place?

If you, like me have lost the battle of sitting in your car outside the liquor store trying not to go in and buy a bottle or a pack of smokes while feeling helplessly out of control, I get it.

So, we’re going to deep dive into this.  How to master your urges which is a topic that affects all of us at some point in our lives.  Again, this is us resisting the temptation to indulge in unhealthy habits or staying focused on our goals, learning how to control our impulses is a highly valuable skill. So, without further ado, let’s explore some ways to master our urges!

Here’s two things I want to stress right from the start.

If you’re trying to master your urges, the first thing to do is recognize it for what it is.  An urge.  An urge is NOT a command.  There are plenty of urges you don’t act on.  The other thing is that whatever the urge is, it’s yours.  You own it.  Why you’re having it, when you’re having it…  all of that; the what, why, how and where, is 100% all you (and me) because until we take ownership of it, it’s too easy to pass blame and excuse behavior.

Definition of Urge

  1. try earnestly or persistently to persuade (someone) to do something.
    “he urged her to come and stay with us”
  1. a strong desire or impulse.
    “the urge for revenge”

1. mid 16th century: from Latin urgere meaning “to press hard, push forward, force, drive, compel, stimulate”

BOTTOM LINE:  Having an urge and acting on an urge is separated by one thing and one thing only.  A decision.

How to master your urges

First, recognize that you have a decision to make and also recognize that all decisions produce results and consequences.

  • Ask yourself what result will come from this decision?
  • What’s in it for you?
  • Will the consequence be in my favor?

Second, Identify the source.  What is the source of the urge?  Are you about to move toward a goal or away from a negative?  Are you simply about to replace one negative with another negative?

Example:  If you’re upset or down in the dumps, you may feel the urge to get drunk.  You now get to decide whether or not you will.  If you do, what’s the short term result?  What’s the possible outcomes?  What if you went running instead?  Again, what’s that short term result and possible outcome?

Which one is better for you over all?

Sources could be one of 4 misalignments.  Abraham Maslow talks about 6 key human needs.  4 of which must happen before the other two can even get considered.

  • Certainty
  • Variety
  • Significance
  • Connection

We need all 4 and if we don’t get these needs met positively it will open us up to “by any means necessary” which is where in an attempt to get these needs met we may cause more harm than good, hurting ourselves, others or both.

This is how narcissists, manipulators and politicians work as well.  They exploit these needs to their gain with minimal regard towards consequences.

The other two needs are growth and contribution which no one is going to even remotely consider until the first four get handled in a positive way because without the first four getting handled you’re literally in survival mode and very susceptible to temptation.

So back to the urge…

You have an urge to take down a large pizza, drink a 2 liter bottle of Coke and demolish a quart of heavenly hash ice cream while binge watching James Bond movies.  If it’s summer time, you’re 12 years old and you’ve been riding your bike all over the place with your friends every day because it’s 1985 and that’s how we rolled back then, then this caloric nightmare is completely acceptable.

On the other hand, if your 50…  prolly not the best idea.  What need(s) does this meet?  Better yet, what needs do you have that are NOT getting met to the degree that pigging out would somehow make you feel better but ultimately worse because…  well, ya know.

Steps to mastering your urges

Third thing to mastering your urges, especially when the battle is raging, is stay busy meeting your needs in positive ways.  If you have a bunch of good things going on, you’ll never have time to digress into the not so healthy aspects of need meeting.

Fourth and final thing, make sure your around people who support and lift you up.  Get around people who will inspire you and hold you accountable to your better self.  If you have people around you supporting negativity and poor behaviors, create distance immediately.

Final thoughts

Remember, mastering urges is a process, and it takes time and practice. Be patient and gentle with yourself WHILE holding yourself to a higher standard.  Celebrate even the smallest victories along the way and use these victories to build momentum because with self-awareness, healthier alternatives, and a supportive network, you’ll be well on your way to staying in control of and mastering those urges and achieving your goals and dreams.