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Self-help program

3.4 Surfing on desire

With this exercise, you can practice your ability to regulate yourself and manage your strong urges by ‘surfing’ on your desires. It is best to begin practicing with something concrete.

Surfing on desire - a hard candy

Many people find ‘a hard candy’ helpful for this exercise. Place a hard candy in your mouth and keep it there without chewing or eating it. Now pay attention to what is happening in your mind and body and follow the steps below:

Recognize your desires

  • notice how they are awakened

Observe without judgement

  • How does it feel?
  • Where do you feel it?
  • What mental images are accompanied with the desire?
  • What does your mind and body want to do now?
  • Make note of these things. Do not get caught up in them and do not try to change them. Just let them happen and observe them without judging them.


  • give yourself and your body some space to process the desire.
  • Breathing calmly helps calm down your body and mind.

Surf on the desire

  • you can imagine surfing on the desire as if though you would be surfing on a wave.
  • You can start by assessing the intensity of your desire on a scale of 0 - 10.
  • After that you can observe what this makes you feel and how the desire moves in your body.
  • Do not try to push it down.
  • You can reassess the intensity every few minutes and pay attention to how the desire develops.


Many people find that the desire strengthens a lot in the beginning. With time, however, it often decreases significantly. What do you notice happening? For example: “even strong desires ease up. I do not need to act upon my desires. I can manage even though the desire is strong”. What kinds of conclusions can you draw based on your findings?

Combine this exercise with your own values: what reaction to this urge would be in line with your values and the life you want to lead?


You can practice this safe surfing on desire wherever you want.

For example, in the grocery store: you have decided to eat healthy, but while you are grocery shopping you begin to crave chips and beer. In those moments you can try to surf on the desires and look at what happens. Just let it be and pay attention to it for a while.

Surfing on desire is a skill that requires patience and practice. It can be difficult at first, like any other new skill that you are trying to learn.


Practicing your skills with your desires will help you to keep on developing the skills that help you to stop the use of CSAM.​