Urge surfing can be used with any urges (e.g., urges to avoid, escape, or push away unwanted emotions, urges within procrastination, urges to isolate, urges to self-harm) you experience, including action urges of emotions that don’t serve us well.
Emotions also serve a purpose. Similar to when our stomachs rumble to signal hunger, emotions signal us of a greater need. With this, we can have the urge to run from the action urge of anxiety or grief /loss because of the discomfort of the experience. If we can learn to sit with the emotion, be curious, and identify what it is trying to communicate to us…we can, in turn, take positive action within it and ultimately respond mindfully (versus react) to its signal. When we are able to do this, the strength of the wave is diminished.
To Urge Surf, visualize urges rising and falling like waves. Rather than trying to fight against the wave and be tossed and turned upside down, practice the skill of noticing and observing then surfing the wave until it’s lost it’s power.
Each urge has 3 stages:
RISE WITH INTENSITY
The rise of intensity is when the urge is triggered or begins building up. This is when, if we are able to notice and name what is happening (pay attention non-judgmentally to the sensations that are occurring for us). We can be curious and open to this experience and choose in that moment to not fight against it. We can also deploy our learned coping /mindfulness strategies (breath work, grounding, engage our 6 sensations of sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing plus movement) so that the wave does not grow as big.
2) The peak is the point the urge is the strongest, like the white caps of the crest of the wave as it peaks. It is slightly before this that we must choose whether to surf and ride the wave or be taken down by it. If we choose to ride, we can continue to take deep mindful breaths as we ride our surfboard. This stage can last up to 20 minutes.
3) The crash starts when the urge begins to lessen, like a wave after it has peaked and starts falling back into the ocean and towards the reclaimed calm.