Loneliness, fear, sorrow… being doubted, questioned, mistrusted, rejected… in pain, powerless, dead inside…. tragedy… loss… What do you think about these feelings?
For most of us, myself included, we’d rather not feel these things. And since certain circumstances bring out these feelings in us, it’s only natural to want to change our circumstances so that we have to feel these things as little as possible.
Yet when we’re not willing to feel certain things, we ignore ourselves during our times of greatest need. Our desire to not feel something doesn’t show us how, in our pursuit of something, we trample over our own spirit, the part of ourselves to whom it feels natural to feel those ways. All Desire can see is the goal.
Desire, to me, is the embodiment of ‘the ends justify the means’.
The spirit of desire itself – it longs for something so much that it stomps all over everything in its path. And what does it want? It’s that part of you that wants circumstances to be exactly as it wants them to be, and feels violent towards anything that doesn’t fit its desired image. Screw the loneliness! Screw the despair, the agitation, and the doubt!
And yet, when you feel any of those ‘bad’ feelings, it’s just your spirit crying out for help. During those tough times in life, that’s when your own spirit needs the most love from your conscious mind.
But we don’t know how to love ourselves during such tough times. Trying to is intimidating, strange, and most of all, uncomfortable. I mean, will that doubtful side of you ever just shut up and stop being doubtful? Can your despairing side just suck it up already?
So it feels like our spirit of desire lies in wait until that time when we have finally learned our lesson of how to love ourselves, completely, in every horrible circumstance we can possibly imagine. Sounds fun, huh? But perhaps knowing that this allows us to better protect our spirit from being trampled can give us the perspective we need to move forward.
Besides, you can’t just go kill Desire. I tried that. All Desire will do is laugh and accuse you of hypocrisy, because all you’re doing is desiring to kill something seen as negative, which is the exact same thing Desire does.
And a Warning: I’m not recommending you go out and try to put yourself in all sorts of uncomfortable circumstances arbitrarily either. There’s plenty in you that doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable on purpose, I’d wager.
The important thing to keep in mind is the relationship between love and desire. Desire tries to kill everything in its path between it and what it likes. Love takes the time to truly understand what’s going on, and care for you in times of trial. So when you find yourself in one of those circumstances where you’d rather just not be in it, rather than running from the circumstance, instead look for a way to help yourself through it.
And yet, if a side of you feels angry or frustrated, and doesn’t have the patience to be loving, sometimes it’s overpowering! And that’s OK – just work with what you can handle without suppressing or restricting yourself. Or heck, go talk to Desire itself and see what it wants to do. Then you can think from outside its perspective.
But, besides your own spirit, think of all the stuff Desire tries to get you to do! When someone makes a mistake, yell at them! When life hands you a traffic jam on the way to work, flip off reality itself! When something annoys you, destroy it!
Love on the other hand… when someone makes a mistake, it’s concerned about the other person’s insecurities and if they feel fine. If there’s a traffic jam, it remains calm. When something annoys you, it wants to help you in your annoyance to better understand why it did annoy you.
But what do we listen to?
Anyway, rather than hear me blabber on about it, let’s try an activity to help you pinpoint the voice of Desire and see what lies beyond it.
Go Beyond the Voice of Desire
In the following exercise you’ll be shifting from not wanting a situation, to wanting a solution to the real issue. In the process you’ll uncover what the real issue is, and get some ideas on how to solve it. Let’s begin!
- Think of a situation that you would really like to avoid getting into. Write this at the top of the page. (example: clipping my toenails)
- How would this situation make you feel? Write that next. (example: bored, impatient, like I’m wasting time with mundane stuff)
- Why does it make you feel this way? Write your answer on the next line. (example: because I don’t feel fulfilled, so any extra waste of time is disappointing to me. I feel like I’m going in the wrong direction.)
- Is there anything you can do about that? Write down all ideas. If nothing comes to you, write that down too. (example: I could explore some new directions, I could not clip my toenails (hah… jk) … honestly I don’t know what to do.)
- Next, write “I desire to not be_[insert situation here]_”. (example: I desire to not be clipping my toenails.)
- Now below that, write the real issue that you now know from asking yourself why the situation makes you feel the way it does. (example: I feel unfulfilled and like I’m wasting time.)
- Now, if you really want to put yourself in a positive mindset, stick “solving my issue” on your todo list! You already got a head start by writing some ideas down, and now your mind will probably already be going, trying to find the way to solve the problem. You can come back to the real issue at any time.
As you can see, you didn’t actually change the situation. For instance, in my example, I didn’t want to really stop clipping my toenails. But I did want to be more fulfilled. I just didn’t know how. But that’s OK! I can learn as I go – at least I have a better grasp of what I’d like to learn: living a fulfilling life.
It’s easy to see the things that make us feel bad. It’s a little bit harder to grasp why. Desire just fixates on the image of the things that make us feel bad being gone, one way or another. But these bad feelings reveal something about ourselves, hidden issues that we might not know were there, and often we don’t even know how to solve. What might be waiting for us if we solve them? There’s only one way to find out!
Let’s enjoy it, shall we? : )
Article on the “Good Angel, Bad Angel” Trope, which reminds me of desire vs. love, but with an important distinction. Often the good angel is portrayed as righteous, which is egotistical and not loving. The loving voice I’m talking about is much more like the little white bird from my Characters Within page.
Wikipedia Article on Fenrir, from Norse mythology, who seems similar to Desire.
Move Beyond Your Dissatisfaction with Life
Why You Should Bother to Accept Yourself
Beyond Morality: Beauty in the Ugliness
Find Your Unconditional Kindness, Feel Self-Acceptance
Calming the Desire for Immortality
Conflict Needed for Peace
I did a lot of thinking about desires when “reparenting” myself in Grad school. Today I undid a dread of writing about my late mother, and dove bravely into the cedar chest of past memories. I just told myself feelings can’t really hurt me, like a brave mother would say to a loved child. After writing about my mom, I ate Oreos and drank milk just like ole times. I rewarded myself for writing, feeling, and recovering from being so close to her memory.
Thank you for sharing this
I really do appreciate your desire to help others. It helped me to share after surviving the dive into the painful memory pond.
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