20 things/20 minutes – Surfing your way through change

Urge Surfing

Often we do things simply because we get the urge to do it. No thinking, we just want to, we just feel like it, so we do it. Sometimes this urge is so powerful that no matter what we think we just have to do it. Urges are what makes changing a behaviour a pretty hard thing to do. Also urges aren’t constant. The come in waves like the sea. So fighting an urge is like a soldier facing one battle after another. Like the sea hitting the shore in the end an urge can wear you down or crush you.

Urges come in waves and they also vary in intensity. If you resist an urge then eventually the intensity and duration of the wave decreases. If you stop a behaviour, eventually it becomes pretty hard to remember why you did it and the urge is gone. On the other hand feed the urge and its back next time just as intense and just as hungry. So hungry that you can’t beat it back with a stick.

A way to beat an urge is to treat it like the sea and surf it.

This is called “urge surfing” and how you do it is when you feel an urge, do something that you enjoy and that engages you for 20 minutes (the maximum time an urge lasts for). That’s right, watch a movie, read a book, doodle, walk, draw, work out, shop, have sex, anything just so long as it engages you and you enjoy it. So think about the things that give you joy (other than the thing you have the urge for, obviously) and write a list of at least 20 things that you can do for 20 minutes. A 20/20 list! Carry the list with you, stick it on your fridge or somewhere where you will see and read it every day …then review and update it regularly – keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Make urge surfing a part of your plan to beat problem gambling and you will be on your way to a successful change. Another part of a successful plan is to get a good support team on your side, to help you on your list, review how things are going and help you put into place all the other steps that help make changing a behaviour you don’t want and don’t need a successful change. You can call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 and they can give all the right contacts in your area.

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