I know what it’s like to feel like you HAVE to do something, like there is nothing else in the world that you can focus on and it feels like unless you do that one thing then the urge is never going to disappear and it will just become more and more unbearable. I know how that feels but I also know that feeling is not a fact, there is no truth it in. It may feel like the urge will never go away but that isn’t true. Urges do reduce and eventually disappear without having to act on them.
Often the things we get urges to do negatively impact us in either the short-term or long-term. Urges may include wanting to argue with someone, self-harming, binging, responding in a rude manner to someone. I remember people used to tell me to distract myself and it would annoy me because I would think, “What am I meant to do, distract myself for the rest of my life?!” because I didn’t trust that the urge would go. For example when I was battling bulimia, I would get the urge to binge and then I would end up binging and purging. The next day the same thing would happen, and the day after and then the day after that. The urge was always there. I didn’t realise at the time but by binging and purging I was feeding the urge. The urge would disappear for a very short amount of time but then it would come back because I hadn’t managed the urge, I had given into it.
I managed an urge once, I didn’t retaliate to a negative situation and it took days for the urge to disappear and I must have thought a hundred times over “I mustn’t reply to that message” but the urge reduced, fizzled out and became nothing and there was no longer any part of me that wanted to reply to that message, I was no longer in the moment and it didn’t matter to me anymore. I could have replied to it and added fuel to the fire and ending up arguing and putting my opportunities at risk, I didn’t. I didn’t make the situation worse. Managing that urge meant a great deal to me, it made me trust that urges do disappear. The uncomfortable fullness after eating a meal won’t matter in a weeks time. It might take days and a lot of thinking the same thought over and over but urges can be managed and can disappear without you acting on them.
When an urge strikes allow yourself time before you act on it, think about the negative impacts of acting on that urge and learn to trust that it will become bearable and then disappear. Often by acting on the urge you keep the urges going.