• Wendy Lee Johnson

How to Stop Giving In

Updated: Jan 26, 2020

You can have a thought as simple as, “I want to some ice cream.” You start feel an urge that is so strong, it feels almost intolerable. Just that fast!

When we experience a strong urge, all we want to do is get rid of it. The easiest way is to buffer. Buffering is simply giving into urges so they will disappear. Sometimes the urge is for chocolate and sometimes for Netflix. Sometimes the urge is for In-N-Out or peanut M&Ms.

Feeling Out of control

Urges are part of our primitive brain and they are normal. We are wired to feel that if we don’t answer the urge, something terrible will happen. When urges are rewarded, they grow. When we buffer with something yummy it creates a cycle. We have the thought that creates the urge. The urge feels so strong, we react by buffering. The brain feels a huge reward from the buffering and it grows the cycle. It feels like we have no control.

Resisting an urge

When we try to resist the urge, or “white knuckle it,” the urge only grows in size. It feels even more powerful.

Avoiding an Urge

When we avoid an urge, it almost feels like we are running from it. We try to distract ourselves. Anything to get away from it. Sometimes we clear every bit of sugar out of our house, only to start binging on crackers, of all things.

Allowing an Urge

Most of us buffer because we don’t know how to allow an urge. If we can allow the urge, we can stop buffering. This is actually a skill that can be practiced and developed. If you can develop the skill of allowing an urge, buffering can be over immediately.

What Allowing Looks Like

  • Make room for it

  • Relax and invite it in

  • Witness the urge on purpose

  • Encourage the urge to be there

  • Say, "I see you, I feel you, and nothing is going wrong"

  • Say, "Have a seat, right here next to me"

What we know about urges

  • The urge is harmless and powerless

  • When we don’t reward urges, they start to fade

  • The goal isn’t to eliminate urges

  • The goal is simply to stop responding

Deconditioning an urge is almost unbelievable. I have witnessed this in my own life with small and simple things like baguettes and pizza. They used to be a 9 or 10 and now they show up only occasionally and at a 2 or 3. It's remarkable.

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