By Bradley Riddell

Maidstone & Brighton

bradrid@gmail.com

www.addiction-Counselling.org.uk

07914 681995

Tempering A Craving – A Technique For Urges

If ever you feel in the grip of a compulsive, obsessional urge & want to resist it but can’t seem to find a way here’s a technique you might want to give a go?

tempering craving

Pre Frontal Cortex

Our brain has a frontal cortex called the PFC; the Pre Frontal Cortex.

It is part of our neo-cortex; the most recently evolved area of our brain.

It regulates decisions based on logic & reason.

It is often referred to as the CEO of the brain.

When you feel overwhelmed

When we feel overwhelmed with feelings, emotions & thoughts it is often highly effective to move from the lower ground floor (the meso-limbic system) to the penthouse (the PFC) to get a better view of what’s actually going on.

Our brain finds it very difficult to differentiate between what’s actually going on & what we imagine or anticipate is going on or is about to happen.

This technique brings clarity to proceedings & opens up a small window of opportunity for us to take back control of our response to stimuli that seem to impel us to behave in ways that we always end up regretting after the event.

Sound familiar?

Well try this.

The next time these urges are triggered ask yourself;

“Is this a thought, feeling or emotion I’m experiencing?”

You’ll almost certainly respond by saying to yourself; “It’s a bit of all of them!

But this won’t do it!

You must choose the one it most predominantly is, & in order to perform this function your PFC will have to engage.

Your Limbic system simply does not perform this executive task.

Limbic System

Your Limbic system is like a screaming child intent only on getting its short term wants satisfied so it will not reason or quietly evaluate the pros & cons of any given situation.

It will simply scream until it is given what it wants & in this case it is sending a false message from the survival part of our brain telling us this need is imperative & life threatening & therefore must be satisfied!!

It then feels like all we can do is satiate the urge to quieten it & receive some peace from it.

Multiple choices

Use the multiple choice question & insist that it is answered & the PFC will have to pop back online in order to provide an answer because the Limbic system can’t handle the evaluative discipline required to select an answer from a selection of possible answers.

The Limbic system just screams for what it wants. It has no interest in reflection or rumination and so the Pre-Frontal Cortex must be called on as it is equipped to handle this task.

Once you have decided which one it predominantly is take things a step further by asking yourself;

“And whereabouts in my body do I feel this?”

“And what does it feel like?

EG: Hot?

Cold?

Like a hammering?

A sinking, falling feeling?”

Give yourself enough time to process this through.

And how are you feeling now?

Chances are you’re now feeling calmer & this is because you’ve moved from the emotional centre of your brain,(the meso-limbic system which has few words) into the executive part of the brain (the PFC).

Practice makes progress

If it hasn’t appeared to work for you first time return to it again as many times as possible.

A technique that’s new to us can take some getting used to.

Keep an open mind & look out for the “internal censor” or “critical faculty” that Freud forewarned his patients about as a blocker of psychoanalytic “free association”.

It’s quite normal for our critical faculty to throw the baby out with the bath water so be prepared for this to happen & return to the breath & reset & try again after a short (or long if necessary) interval.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try & try again as the soldier said to the spider!

By Bradley Riddell MBACPBrighton & Maidstone Addiction Counselling