Urge Surfing. Sitting With It II. C8. U4. S41.
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Here I am again.
Going back over "surf the urge" skills with DBT.
Truth is I go back over this most days and try to remain mindful of this technique and practice the skills ........ to varying degrees *sigh*. Sigh because I am feeling a tad fraught right now and my patience is thin and surfing the urge (not to loose my shit) is painful and hard work. I remain dedicated to the cause non the less.
Ass holes over the past week have tested my patience. Dickheads with far right bigoted ill informed blinkered dark negative depressing views and opinions that are just outdated and plain fucking horrible and then having my shit gritted by Über eifrig (zelous) to far left liberal lemmings that are insulted and triggered by things they think they see but in fact do not because they jump the fucking gun before attaining all the facts and preach their almost fascist black and white word views at you and tell you how you can and cannot think. You know, the ANTIFA ilk who are ironically dictating their own unhinged toss at you.
Can you tell I'm a little frustrated?
I've had it. And so I'm prepared now to loose friends by sticking to my guns and not appeasing anyone, which I have done this week only for that to be thrown back in my face. Some immature annoying nonsense from fake hippies.
I have really really "surfed the urge" this past week and that proves that my skills set in this area is far stringer than it has been in probably, perhaps, 10 or 12 years.
I have come to realize though, over the past couple days that I went further than surfing the urge and went too far in keeping the peace. I will be mindful of this next i am set upon by narrow minded twats that make assumptions without all the facts.
As you can tell, this situation that I am being vague about is still raw and I am currently surfing the urge to contact said holier than thou hypocrites and tell them exactly how i feel. Alas, no point. It would just be poking a nest of poisonous snakes, a kʌvən of witches stirring their self righteous cauldron of OTT Marxist PC propaganda.
I will surf the urge.
Feel a bit better to get down on this blog though. No one reads this drivel anyway! Ha! FML.
There have been other things recently where I have found myself surfing the urge mindfully and bearing in mind the utter extra agg' should I blow a gasket. Snappy little angry people, inane family commentary, bla bla bla. People. And me. My own rubbish. Doin' my own Swede in by not keeping to deadlines, not sticking to planned self care regimes and exercise plans and wasting time on things that are not priorities in my plan of moving forwards, up and away!
In order to get back on track, I am redoubling my efforts to lock my own shit down, keep calm, practice self care and love, keep energy vampires at arms length and be mindful of what is important. I need to start my DBT gratitude journal again - note to self.
Right, rant over.
Surf The Urge:
I was there ⬆⬆
She was there ⬆⬆
Why fuckin' bother? Well .....
Says 5 reasons, I see 4! ⬆⬆ However, I can tell you there are a plethora of reasons, not just 4 or 5, that I'm not going to go into because it's self explanatory to anyone who wants change themselves in the name of self love and loving others, correctly. If you are reading this, that's probably you.
It really does feel like a wave inside when an overwhelming string emotion takes hold of you. You feel the wave coming and arriving one way or another (quickly or gradually). Usually at 37680,7645.0 miles an hour for us emotionally unbalanced BPD famalers.
The emotion increases in intensity and all of a sudden you're a the peak of melt down. The place we don't want to be especially.
It's at this point we need to learn how to surf the peak of the emotional wave and not come crashing down into a boiling sea of red hot anger and kick off. Kicking off ruins everything. Trust me, my inability or should I say lack of insight of how to surf the peak of my emotional waves, ruined my life for quite some time and disrupted the lives of those I love but lost. Trust me, learn to fucking surf! it might just save your life.
#sabotagingbehavior ⬆⬆ is the key phrase here. Not dealing with our emotional unstable intense illness, and it is an illness, a bonified physical brain illness, or should I say illness of the brain, I don't know, I cant speak English .....
I digress ....
it's a real illness and not learning to cope with emotional challenges and not practicing these skills to alter our brain neural pathways is sabotage on our own lives.
Emotional meltdowns sabotage our lives and other peoples lives around us.
This can be overcome with hard work, support, DBT and determination to get it right and stop suffering all the time!
⬇⬇ Tick, tick tick, tick and tick and whole big long list of other ticks. I have all of the T shirts and I sabotaged them.
Not any more. Measures taken. Especially practicing this life skill that most people have encoded in them from childhood and they don't even have to reference it. We do though but it's so worth the time, pain and effort.
This skill set has helped me see through,complete and graduate from DBT path once already and it enabled me to give up alcohol entirely after using it as a crutch since I was a young teen ager along side other substances periodically such as Billy (speed), Charlie (coke) and dee gange maan (weed) through a liitle brass pipe I made when i was 17.
All that is thing of the past and so are the people and scenes that come with it.
The urge no longer rules me, i rule it. I dominate my day, not the other way around. Urge surfing. It works. Have I made self clear? 🤔 ⬇⬇
So, a non sweary sensible assessment of Surf The Urge for you by someone else that has given me permission to cope and paste, although I have re formatted it for thus blog, just so ya know. It will make far more sense than my diabolical ramblings of a mad man. I'm not a writer, can you tell?
Riding the Wave
Using Mindfulness to Help Cope with Urges:
Changing a habit is hard.
Anyone who has tried to change their eating habits, quit smoking, start an exercise program, or stop drinking or using drugs can tell you how difficult it can be at times to change old habits. In my last post I discussed how slipping (i.e., falling back into an old habit) can sometimes set us up for a relapse (i.e., continuing a habit beyond the initial slip) due to a phenomenon known as the Abstinence Violation Effect. In this post, I’d like to talk about a technique that can help you before you slip, a technique called “urge surfing.”
What is Urge Surfing?
Urge surfing is a technique attributed to the late psychologist Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of addictions treatment. We can think of an urge as an impulse to engage in an old habit, such as drinking or using, and they are often experienced as physical sensations in the body. Urges are like waves in that they rise in intensity, peak, and eventually crash.
Here’s a brief exercise you can do to explore this technique:
Stop for a moment and think about an urge that you recently experienced. As you think about this urge, see if you can notice all the sensations that come up as you think about it; see if you notice how these sensations shift across time. Use your breath to help you ride out the waves (i.e., the urge); like a surfboard, you can simply observe your breath as you ride out each wave that arises. Congratulations! You just successfully surfed your first urge! Urges usually peak between 20 – 30 minutes, if we let them. What I mean by this last phrase is this: if we adopt an open and curious attitude about the urge and watch it without doing battle with it, then the urge will subside. However, if we go to battle with our urges (e.g., “I can’t stand this urge! I have to get rid of it right now!”), they will subside more slowly. Worse, by giving into urges we can actually strengthen them and we can lose confidence in our abilities to change our old habits.
How to Surf an Urge
There are slight variations of the urge surfing technique, but most include the following steps:
Take a few moments to notice where you experience urges in your body. You can do this by taking some time to sit in a quiet place, and if you are comfortable doing so, closing your eyes, and just allowing your attention to go to the place(s) in your body where you tend to feel urges. For some people they notice that urges are most connected to sensations in their abdomens; for others, they notice urges in their mouth (e.g., their mouths water when experiencing an urge to drink). There is no right or wrong place for an urge to be located. What is most important is that you notice where in your body you most notice urges when they show up. If you are having trouble noticing urges, think back to a time when you experienced an urge to engage in an old habit. If you are concerned that thinking about a particular instance when you had an urge will lead to doing the habit, pick a situation where the urge was less strong or you successfully prevented yourself from acting on the urge. Picture the situation as clearly as you can in your imagination. Once the situation is clear in your mind notice where in your body you are experiencing the urge.
2. Once you have noticed what part of your body is most connected to the urge, focus your attention on it (if you notice that more than 1 area of your body is connected to an urge, start with the place that you most intensely notice the urge). Take note of the sensations you are having in this body part. What do the sensations feel like? Does it feel like pressure, tingling, warmth, or coolness? How much space do these sensations take up in this place in your body? Try to draw an outline around the place where the sensations are felt. See if the sensations have any movement. Some people tend to associate sensations with colors or temperatures. Check to see if you notice any colors or temperature associated with these sensations. For some people it can be helpful to silently describe the sensations in an objective and non-judgmental manner (e.g., I notice warmth and tingling in my belly). If more than one part of your body is associated with an urge, go through this exercise with each body part.
Bring your attention to your breath. You do not need to change your breathing at all. Notice your breath for the next 1-2 minutes. Some people find it helpful to bring their attention to a particular place in their body where they notice their breath (e.g., the abdomen); some find it helpful to say phrases like “breathe in,” “breathe out” as they inhale and exhale.
Gently shift your attention back to the part(s) of your body where you notice the urge. Allow yourself to notice whatever sensations come up in these places. If it becomes overwhelming to notice the sensations, gently return your attention back to breath for a few moments and then go back to noticing the sensations connected to the urge. You may find it helpful to imagine sending your breath to the parts of your body that are associated with the urge (e.g., you can breathe into your shoulders and let your breath fill up that part of your body). Notice if and how the sensations change as you watch them. Be sure to practice this step for at least 1 minute, but longer is probably better.
This next step is optional, but I have found it to be helpful in my own life and in working with people with addictions. Imagine that the sensations connected with your urge are a wave. Watch the wave rise and fall over and over again as the intensity of your sensations peak and subside. Your job is to use your breath as a surfboard to ride these waves. No matter how big the wave gets, no matter how much you feel as if the wave will consume you, you are a skilled surfer and you will use your breath to ride each wave as it comes. Practice this for at least 1 minute, but again, longer is probably better, particularly the first few times you practice this.
As you’re riding the wave (or just noticing the sensations), you may find it helpful to silently describe the sensations in an objective and non-judgmental way (e.g., I notice warmth in my belly that is increasing…the warmth in my belly is decreasing and my belly feels cooler).
When you are done surfing the urge, take a moment to thank yourself for taking the time and being willing to do something different with your urges. You can also use this time to set your intention for the next few minutes, hour, or day.
That’s it! With practice urge surfing gets easier and you may discover that you ar
ere an excellent surfer. You can practice this technique in two ways:
You can start urge surfing whenever you notice yourself having an urge. This can be a particularly useful technique when you notice urges to go back to old habit that you are trying to break.
You can practice this on a regular basis by setting aside time to practice using the technique. Many people find that listening to an audio recording of the technique is useful at first. Through this kind of formal practice, you can get better at urge surfing so that you’re better at it when you need it.
You’ll find that, with practice, urges will become easier to ride out. You may even start to feel a sense of pride or accomplishment as you successfully surf urges and act according to your values, instead of according to your urges.
There you are, a good article, with permission, from a friend at Portland Psychology.
Neuroscience of BPD and DBT.
It's a physical illness. Mental illness is all physical. It's not in the sky. It's in the body, in the brain. The brain is physical.
So many cock wombles still fail to recognize that mental illness is a physical ailment just as brain cancer is or a broken leg or heart disease. Only, it's the brain. It's not a weakness. It's not some attention seeking plot. If someone is showing attention seeking behaviors, more often than not, they need fucking attention and because something in the brain is "broken". It needs fixing. Just as brain cancer need attention and fixing.
The onus on a brain cancer suffer is on them to accept help once the problem has been identified. The same goes for "attention seeking" (fucking grits my shit that card people throw at unhappy mentally ill people) people with an identified mental illness.
I was messed up and I was displaying threatening and suicidal behaviors and threats and I got call all sorts by my ex. Emotional blackmail, attention seeker, nutter and all the rest of them. She thought it was all just bluff. Empathy factor zero. It wasn't bluff. I meant it. I caused her upset but not willingly. Now had I been offered DBT and the path that puts one on, in the past, it, I am convinced, would have ended up very differently. Not ruined.
My brain had broken and has been since I was 10 years old pretty much. In 2000 and bla bla bla my brain chemistry went to shit again and all of my insights and coping skills went to shit right along side it. I became a very ill, disturbed, deeply unhappy bunny 🐰.
It was/is a real, physical illness. Thing is I didn't know, to the full extent, just how actually physical it is. It all is. No one had educated me about it and the therapy and dick heads I had been the care of led me up some pointless garden paths. But now I know and now I am learning. Finally.
I can not stress the importance of knowing this stuff and knowing that the right targeted talking therapies really are the answer for much of these illness, especially BPD. Talking therapies are aimed at rewiring your brain, reshaping neuro pathways, on a physical level. It literally re-wires, re shapes the synapse and re collaborates the synaptic gaps and how all the chemicals in your brain interact. The faulty wiring due to trauma changes and heals due to neuro plasticity:
Neuroplasticity: The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.Neuroplasticityallows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
It's an amazing revelation for me and I feel this education need to be shouted out far more from the roof tops to encourage people into therapy to dance with their demons and heal their damaged brain chemistry.
Wow. I hope I make sense. I just get carried away and type. I don't proof read this shit.
Mental illness and the unfortunate, confusing and distressing behaviors that are associated with it are not conjured up out of thin air. They are real and they are caused by physical abnormalities in the mind. Psychology is physical. Emotions are physical. Spiritual vibration, although people will debate this, are physical!
The relationship between training how to rethink and the brains structure is truly awesome. It's bit like learning aikido. The relearning of your chain reactions.
Fucking hell I've rambled on.
Here are some slides 'n' shiz from the session:
Our brains are truly amazing, aren’t they?
Have you ever watched one of those specials on someone who experienced an amazing, unexpected recovery after a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or other brain damage? Some of those stories seem like the only explanation is magic.
Although it certainly seems inexplicable, scientists have been hard at work studying exactly these cases over the last several decades, and have found the explanation behind the magic: neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to adapt. Or, as Dr. Campbell puts it:
“It refers to the physiological changes in the brain that happen as the result of our interactions with our environment. From the time the brain begins to develop in utero until the day we die, the connections among the cells in our brains reorganize in response to our changing needs. This dynamic process allows us to learn from and adapt to different experiences” – Celeste Campbell (n.d.).
Our brains are truly extraordinary; unlike computers, which are built to certain specifications and receive software updates periodically, our brains can actually receive hardware updates in addition to software updates. Different pathways form and fall dormant, are created and are discarded, according to our experiences.
When we learn something new, we create new connections between our neurons. We rewire our brains to adapt to new circumstances. This happens on a daily basis, but it’s also something that we can encourage and stimulate.
Neuroplasticity and Psychology
These new lines of research are exciting for neuroscientists, biologists, and chemists, but they are also exciting for psychologists.
In addition to changes in the way the brain works and functional adaptations, neuroplasticity offers potential avenues for psychological change as well.
As Christopher Bergland (2017) notes,
“One could speculate that this process opens up the possibility to reinvent yourself and move away from the status quo or to overcome past traumatic events that evoke anxiety and stress. Hardwired fear-based memories often lead to avoidance behaviors that can hold you back from living your life to the fullest.”
We already use medications and chemicals to change the way our brain works, and psychology has certainly put forth tons of effort to learn how to change the way the brain works through modifying our thought patterns. What if we really can make permanent, significant changes to our brain structure and function through simple activities that we often do in a normal day?
This is where the importance of learning comes in.
Neuroplasticity and Learning
The relation between neuroplasticity and learning is an easy one to surmise—when we learn, we form new pathways in the brain. Each new lesson has the potential to connect new neurons and change our brain’s default mode of operation.
Of course, not all learning is created equal—learning new facts does not necessarily take advantage of the amazing neuroplasticity of the brain, but learning a new language or a musical instrument certainly does. It is through this sort of learning that we may be able to figure out how to purposefully rewire the brain.
The extent to which we apply the brain’s near-magical abilities is also dependent on how invested we are in promoting neuroplasticity and how we approach life in general.
A Growth Mindset and Neuroplasticity
We’ve written about the growth mindset before, but we didn’t really connect the topic to neuroplasticity. The connection is an important one.
The concepts mirror each other; a growth mindset is a mindset that one’s innate skills, talents, and abilities can be developed and/or improved with determination, while neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to adapt and develop beyond the usual developmental period of childhood.
A person with a growth mindset believes that he or she can get smarter, better, or more skilled at something through sustained effort—which is exactly what neuroplasticity tells us. You might say that a growth mindset is simply accepting the idea of neuroplasticity on a broad level!
Neuroplasticity in Kids
Children’s brains are constantly growing, developing, and changing. Each new experience prompts a change in brain structure, function, or both.
At birth, each neuron in an infant’s brain has about 7,500 connections with other neurons; by the age of 2, the brain’s neurons have more than double the number of connections in an average adult brain (Mundkur, 2005). These connections are slowly pruned away as the child grows up and starts forming their own unique patterns and connections.
There are four main types of neuroplasticity observed in children:
Adaptive: changes that occur when children practice a special skill and allow the brain to adapt to functional or structural changes in the brain (like injuries);
Impaired: changes occur due to genetic or acquired disorders;
Excessive: the reorganization of new, maladaptive pathways that can cause disability or disorders;
Plasticity that makes the brain vulnerable to injury: harmful neuronal pathways are formed that make injury more likely or more impactful (Mundkur, 2005).
These processes are stronger and more pronounced in young children, allowing them to recover from injury far more effectively than most adults. In children, profound cases of neuroplastic growth, recovery, and adaptation can be seen.
Neuroplasticity in Adults
This ability is not absent in adults, but it is generally observed less than in children and at lower strengths; however, the adult brain is still capable of extraordinary change.
It can restore old, lost connections and functions that have not been used in some time, enhance memory, and even enhance overall cognitive skills.
The potential is generally not as great in older adults as it is in children and young adults, but with sustained effort and a healthy lifestyle, adults are just as able to promote positive change and growth in their brains as the younger generations.
To see some of the amazing ways that neuroplasticity can affect the adult brain, read on!
Healing the Brain with Neuroplasticity After Trauma
Research on neuroplasticity has gained in leaps and bounds from observing changes in the brains of those who suffered serious trauma.
Scientists noticed that some patients with severe damage to the brain were able to recover to an amazing degree, given the extent of the damage, and wondered how this was possible; as we now know, neuroplasticity is what allows this recovery to happen.
According to researchers Su, Veeravagu, and Grant (2016), there are three phases of neuroplasticity after trauma:
Immediately after the injury, neurons begin to die and cortical inhibitory pathways are decreased; this phase lasts one to two days, and may uncover secondary neural networks that have never been used or have been rarely used.
After a few days, the activity of these cortical pathways changes from inhibitory to excitatory and new synapses are formed; both neurons and other cells are recruited to replace the damaged or dead cells and facilitate healing.
After a few weeks, new synapses continue to appear and the “remodeling” of the brain is in full swing—this is the time when rehabilitation and therapy can help the brain to learn some helpful new pathways.
There are many pharmacological treatments currently in development and testing that aim to help recovery through encouraging neuroplasticity, in addition to therapies involving stem cells, modifying gene expression and cellular proliferation, regulating inflammatory reactions, and recruiting immune cells to stop the damage (Su, Veeravagu, & Grant, 2016).
Although injury to the brain is a difficult thing to recover from, it is paradoxically one of the best times to take advantage of the brain’s neuroplastic abilities, because post-injury or trauma is when the brain is most capable of making significant changes, reorganizing, and recovering (Su, Veeravagu, & Grant, 2016).
How Can Neuroplasticity Help with Depression?
The connection between neuroplasticity and depression is a good news/bad news one.
The bad news is that, when it comes to psychiatric disorders, there’s a sort of negative neuroplasticity; depression can cause damage to the brain, encouraging unhealthy and maladaptive pathways and discouraging healthy and adaptive ones (Hellerstein, 2011).
The good news is that some treatments for depression seem to be able to halt the damage and perhaps even reverse it. The even better news is that research on neuroplasticity has shown us that “your day-to-day behaviors can have measurable effects on brain structure and function,” which can offer healing and recovery from psychiatric disorders (Hellerstein, 2011).
It may not be easy and it might take sustained effort, but we have the ability to “remodel” our brains at any age in ways that can help us to function better.
Using Neuroplasticity to Help with Anxiety
The same principles apply to manage and treat anxiety disorders—our brains are also perfectly capable of rewiring and remodeling to improve our ability to manage anxiety.
However, as life coach and clinician Ian Cleary (2015) says:
“Any brain changes are at the expense of other changes. The development of these parts of our brain that effortlessly trigger anxiety, it is at the detriment of the ones that aid calmness & confidence… it is not enough to just stop anxiety in any given moment which is often people’s focus. The anxiety wiring is still there and waiting to be triggered. We need to create competitive wiring. We need to create specific wiring of what we want to achieve which is ‘competitive wiring’ to the problem. Without this we loop endlessly in anxiety with no neural pathway to take us forward.”
Basically, neuroplasticity can be applied to help you manage, treat, and perhaps even “cure” anxiety, but it takes some time and effort! These more permanent brain changes can be achieved through adapting and changing thought patterns, through recall and memory patterning, breathing exercises, eye patterning, modifying postural habits, increasing body awareness, and targeting sensory perception (Cleary, 2015).
8 Neuroplasticity Exercises for Anxiety and Depression
There aren’t many neuroplasticity exercises designed specifically for depression, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
All of these activities and exercises—many of which you’ll recognize from more traditional advice on managing depression—have been found to improve neuroplasticity and may be helpful for dealing with depression:
Memory tasks and games;
Learning to juggle;
Learning to play a new instrument;
Learning a new language;
Mild to moderate regular exercise;
Challenging brain activities like crosswords or sudoku;
Learning a new subject—especially a large, complex subject in a short period of time (Hellerstein, 2011).
A whole plethora of more information on this is right here: https://positivepsychology.com/neuroplasticity/
If you want to get into this subject matter on a completely different level which isn't DBT but certainly related to DBT subject a matter, this is a good place to start with Jordan Peterson, on a meta - psychology - mythology level. This one pertains somewhat to this blogs subject but a whole bunch more. I find this material fascinating and had helped me on my shadow work journey ⬇⬇ :