If you would like to change a behavior or habit, but feel powerless to do so, 100 unmet urges is an extremely powerful tool.
You may want to drink less, to lose weight, to stop procrastinating, or to stop yelling at your kids. You may feel as though you’ve already tried everything to change this behavior, but nothing works. I personally used this tool in each of these scenarios to change my behavior and cultivate new habits. My clients have used the STOP process and 100 unmet urges to achieve incredible results to consistently lose 10 lbs a month, to get straight As in school, to build their business, and to dramatically increase their productivity at work.
To change a habit or to cultivate a new one, I encourage you to first learn the STOP skill to learn to process a strong emotion. Once you have practiced processing an emotion, recognize that an urge or desire to do something (or not do something, in the case of procrastination) is nothing more than a strong emotion. You can process it (using STOP) just as you would do with any other emotion, and it will dissipate. As you repeat this process, you will weaken the strength of the habit.
This works because of how our brains work. At some point, when you had an urge, you provided your brain with a reward. This reward might be negative (for example, when you felt angry, you rewarded your brain with a release by yelling at your children), but you still somehow rewarded the urge. A neural pathway was created in your brain, making your brain expect the same reward the next time you experienced the same emotion. If you repeated the same behavior, the neural pathway was strengthened. I imagine this happening the same way a pathway, then a road, is created. When you first take a certain path through the woods, you might see some evidence of it, such as grass pressed down where you step. As you take that route over and over, you might see a path start to form. Once you begin to drive a car over the path, a road becomes visible. Each time you reward a thought, it’s as though you are adding additional infrastructure to the road. It eventually becomes a superhighway! It is this process that leads us to feel as though we have no control over our actions. Rewarding an urge over and over makes it so strong that our brains tell us we’re going to die if we don’t give it the reward it expects!
Just as if we stopped providing upkeep for a superhighway, and nature began to take over again, if we stop rewarding an urge, it loses its power. The more often you can allow an urge to go unmet (by using STOP to process it as an emotion), the more quickly your habit or behavior will change. One way to do this is to keep track of your unmet urges, and work towards achieving 100 unmet urges.
This process has been so powerful for me that I have not yet made it to 100 unmet urges before a behavior has completely changed. I am consistently amazed at the power of this tool! I used it to stop craving alcohol completely, to stop eating sugar (specifically ice cream after dinner), and to stop putting off things that needed to be done (procrastination is simply the urge to do something other than what I had planned!).
In the video below I discuss another tool I used to support 100 unmet urges, called the Urge Jar (an idea I got from The Life Coach School). When I first heard this idea, it seemed a little silly, especially since I used to use this technique with my students when I was a 3rd grade teacher, but it worked so well! Each time I had an unmet urge, I put a marble in a jar to give my brain a “reward.” It was so satisfying to look at the jar later and realize that each marble represented a certain number of calories I hadn’t consumed or glass of wine I did not drink! Clearly, this strategy that worked so well with 8-year-olds worked well with my brain as well, as evidenced by the results!
The STOP process, the 100 unmet urges tool, and the urge jar are just a few of the tools that I suggest when working with clients to meet a goal, change a behavior, or achieve different results in life. If you are interested in learning more, book a consultation and we’ll collaboratively determine how you can get similar results!