DBT Skill: Effectively Coping with Urges

Just about everyone struggles with urges from time to time, whether they be around staying away from substances like alcohol or drugs, self-harming, casual sex, or an endless number of things. You are not alone if you struggle with urges that feel overwhelming.

The great news about urges is that, no matter how strong they are, we still  have the power to choose  what action we will take.

If we are tempted to drink or do drugs but our sobriety is a major goal and value of ours, we can call a sober friend, a sponsor, or therapist to help talk us through the temptation so we can avoid following through on it.

If we feel like self-harming, we can again call someone we trust and who is supportive, or if that feels too vulnerable, we can do a DBT Distress Tolerance skill, such as holding an ice cube.

If we feel like having impulsive, casual sex for comfort and to ease loneliness, and we are aware enough to know that that's why we are about to do it, we can stop right there, get to a safe place where engaging in such behavior isn't possible, and distract with skills or soothe ourselves in a non-destructive way.

One of the most empowering moments in my recovery was something that might seem so obvious to people who don't suffer from emotion dysregulation issues: We have the power to choose how we will behave, what will do, and what we will not do -- no matter how strong an urge is.

Remember this the next time you're faced with an intense urge.  Notice how you feel when you choose to overcome the urge rather than give into it. Each time you do it, you build your strength for the next time it comes up. Eventually, the urge could lose most of its power. Imagine that.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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