Our minds are oriented toward simplicity and they are quicker to grab onto inner signals that are gross (obvious and intense) rather than fine (subtle and difficult to distinguish). It’s easier to shop than it is to feel inadequate. Likewise, it’s easier to mindlessly flip on the TV than to recognize that we’re longing for space and relaxation. Just like it’s easier to grab a cola and some chips than it is to feel upset at your boss and frustrated by the complexity of work demands. And it’s a whole lot easier to escape via the Internet than it is to feel left out and lonely. Once the potent initial signal of a destructive urge comes through loud and clear, it tends to drown out all of the other voices in our inner parliament. Urges bully other possibilities out of focus and restrict our response options to two: resist or succumb. At least that’s how it seems. Fortunately, instead of either resisting or succumbing, we can also listen more closely. When we do, we may pick up other inner signals vying for our attention, which have often been obscured and ignored.


When you experience a familiar urge, don’t launch immediately into entertaining or fighting it. Instead of taking it at face value, enter into a dialogue with yourself. It might go something like this: “This urge is a good divining rod or light on the dashboard. It’s drawing my attention to the fact that I want or need something right now. It’s shouting so loud that it’s hard to hear anything else, but I’m not convinced that this is really what I want and need. Let me try out some other possibilities to see if any of them ring true.” Then, ask yourself the following messages, holding each in your mind for a moment to give your gut a chance to respond. Put a star by statements that feel valid, two stars if it captures your feelings perfectly.

“Enough exertion and trying, I want to give up and let go.”

“Enough of being productive and staying on task, I want to play hooky and waste time.”

“Enough being nice and caring and giving, I want to do what I feel like doing.”

“Enough boredom and drudgery, I want some excitement.”

“Enough of feeling yucky, I want to feel good.”

“Enough taking orders and being cooperative, I want to break the rules and do it my way.”

“Enough complexity and confusion, I want life to be relaxed and simple.”

“Enough predictability, I want novelty and surprises.”

“Enough feeling agitated, I want to feel calm.”

“Enough of the tame and civilized, I want something wild and primitive.”

“Enough being open and above board, I want to be sneaky and secretive”

“Enough mental effort, I want to do something physical.”

“Enough trying to live up to expectations and be perfect, I want to be accepted as I am.”

“Enough of reality, I want an escape.”

“Enough sacrifice and doing without, I want indulgence and gratification.”

“Enough being hurt, I’m going to hurt them.”

© 2008 © 2013 Mark Chamberlain