Do you find yourself having a craving or an urge that might look something like...
- I need to have a glass of ______
- I feel like munching on something salty and crunching right now
- I need to kickstart my day with a cup of ________
- I need to browse social media for 30 minutes before bed
Truth be told, unconsciously, or consciously, a lot of people find themselves giving into these cravings and urges. Why is this happening? Why is this a problem?
Every time we succumb to our urges and cravings, our pleasure-driven dopamine levels increase. In turn, this makes us want to eat even more of the particular food that makes us feel good, for example. Now although this does not really sound that bad, these heightened dopamine levels result in an increased vulnerability to cravings, which leads to you eating more and packing on pounds. This all happens because your brain was created to:
- seek pleasure
- avoid pain
- be as energy efficient as possible
So fulfilling an urge or craving, once it occurs, makes complete sense.
- Your mind and body receives that pleasant hit of dopamine from eating that particular food or spending an hour long more watching an episode of your favourite TV show.
- You are avoiding the cognitive dissonance of having to fight the desire hence, shunning away from emotional pain.
- The act of giving into your desire requires little energy especially if it is something you have been repeatedly doing and a strong neural circuit has been established in the brain.
If you think about it now in hindsight, your brain is actually doing what was designed to do best, it is performing its job perfectly. However, while we should be relieved that our brain is functioning the way it ought to, this method of operation can be a cause of concern especially when we are trying to reach our goals. Why? Because our brain believes that eating that chocolate, drinking that glass of whiskey or binge watching YouTube videos = performing optimally simply because giving into any one of these desires feels amazing.
This, to a large extent, explains why it is so hard for us to kick bad habits.
Today I am going to empower you with a tool, the Urge jar, that will trick your brain into working with you, and not against you, in your pursuit of achieving your health and fitness goals.
The Urge Jar Method by Brooke Castillo
You will need a couple things to ensure your success. Make sure you have each item as they are all important.
- A transparent mason (or glass) jar
- A 100 glass marbles
- A day in advance jot down your goal. Examples: I will eat only the foods I had planned to eat in my food diary OR I will drink my last cup of coffee at 1pm OR I will begin my bedtime routine promptly at 9.30pm. Just pick one to work on for the month.
- Have your Urge Jar and glass marbles where you can see them. So perhaps on the table next to your bed or at your work desk.
- The minute you sense an urge to do something that goes against the habit you’re trying to inculcate in your life, pause, take a couple of deep belly breaths, notice and accept that this is your urge. Give yourself the permission to feel the urge for up to 15 minutes. Then, put a glass marble in your Urge Jar if you successfully resisted the urge. If you are not near your jar, paste a sticker on your notepad and then at the end of the day, put the glass marbles into the Urge Jar.
- Putting the coloured marbles into the Urge Jar where you can often see it is of vital importance.
- Do this with 100 glass marbles. Do this every time you have an urge.
- Don’t worry if you give in to an urge. In this case, you neither put a glass marble in or take a glass marble out from the Urge Jar.
Why is the Urge Jar method so effective?
Over time whatever you are trying to work on will become a habit because you are choosing your long term goals over your cravings or urges i.e. your short time wants. The concept is to practice deconditioning your urges and cravings so that you do not become a slave to your momentary desires and emotions. The more we practice this, the easier this gets. Practice makes perfect right?
This idea is supported by the Law of Facilitation which postulates that:
“When an impulse has passed once through a certain set of neurons to the exclusion of others, it will tend to take the same course on a future occasion, and each time it tra- verses this path the resistance in the path will be smaller.”
Using an Urge Jar makes building new habits and fighting cravings fun and empowering! It’s sort of like a game. It’s pretty first off, so that helps for sure. But also, you visually see your ability to take control over your urges manifested in a physical form of a glass marble and hearing the “ping” sound the marble makes when it comes into contact with the other marbles makes the process so rewarding. You feel like a kid growing his/her money in the piggy bank, a very similar concept.
If you’re looking to take charge of your mind and emotions and build new habits then, this is surely one of the most effective mind hacking techniques in the market that will be sure to do the trick. Be it whether you are trying to go to bed earlier, reduce the number of snacks you eat a day or if you’re trying to start exercising daily, this tool will guarantee to help you get to where you want to go if you use it intentionally and consistently.
To your health, happiness and longevity,
The Levitise Team
P.S. If you love this blog post then do check out our fortnightly newsletter where you'll get the freshest content on health, nutrition and fitness delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out and sign up here with just your name and email.
1. Dorland Illustrated Medical Dictionary. (Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary) Hardcover – January 1, 1988. https://www.amazon.com/Dorland-Illustrated-Dictionary-Dorlands-Dictionary/dp/0721631541