Having the Courage to Desire
Posted Feb 27, 2019
Linda: The foundation of vision is desire. To even begin such a process, it is necessary to trust that such an outcome is possible for us and that we are worthy of having a life of great fulfillment and a high level of well being. Until and unless we are willing to reconsider and risk being wrong about the identity that we have carefully and meticulously constructed, perfected and reinforced throughout our lives, we are just as likely to resist a life filled with joy and gratitude, as we are a life filled with pain and sorrow. For many, such trust calls into question our beliefs about ourselves, our deservedness, our worth, as well as our assessments of the trustworthiness of others and of the world itself. For many, the prospect of being wrong about our self-image, even a self-image based upon distorted assessments, is more threatening and disturbing than the prospect of a future of limitation and mediocrity.
Yet because desire opens us up to the possibility of experiencing failure, disappointment or loss, there is always an element of risk in even acknowledging what you really want. It’s in the willingness to tell the truth to others and ourselves about what we really want, our hunger for what truly matters to us, that the energy that fuels our passion is generated.
Rationalizing why we can’t have what we desire or convincing ourselves that it’s not attainable or “realistic” results in a weakening and diminishment of the spirit and energy that drives our motivation. Desire itself isn’t enough to fulfill our longing, but it can provide the fuel needed to generate the efforts that are required for fulfillment. In our willingness to feel the truth about what we truly desire, we can find the courage to risk going after it. It’s not that the fear of failure disappears altogether, but rather that it becomes overshadowed and pushed into the background by the intensity of the longing that is being awakened.
Not all desires, of course, are visionary, and we may be better served by resisting or ignoring some and by honoring others. Knowing which is which is the question. It is not always easy to discern the desires that are worth pursuing from those we are better off resisting. In most cases, the context of the desire is as important as the desire itself.
For example, while it may not be a good idea to indulge a desire for a hot fudge sundae every time I feel like having one, there may be occasions in which doing so is not only not a bad thing, but may be a good thing. There is also such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. For example, a practice that we think of as positive can be destructive or damaging if used to excess such as dieting, exercising, reading, having sex, or even spending time serving others.
What determines whether the fulfillment of a desire contributes to a vision or leads to a problem has more to do with the intention that underlies it, than the desire itself. It is always a good idea to check in with the question “What is my intention in fulfilling this desire? What is it that I want to gain or experience? Will this serve my wellbeing and/or the greater good of those around me? Am I seeking to avoid an unpleasant experience by going after this? Am I reinforcing a compulsive, destructive, or addictive pattern by going after it? Will the fulfillment of this desire have a beneficial effect upon what really matters to me?
Our response to desire is either to try to fulfill it or to suppress it. It’s important to not only understand whether or not the object of our desire is obtainable but also whether or not it’s attainment will really fulfill us. To know this, it is necessary to examine and understand the nature of our desire. This requires us to really feel the desire in order to find out what it is really about. The object we are smitten by might distract us from the deeper experience that we really seek.
The question may not be "What do I want?” but rather ”What is it that I really want?” What are the longings below my conscious desires? In strengthening our capacity to hold strong, potentially overwhelming emotions, we increase our ability to hold our deepest longings. Feel the desire and resist the temptation to go straight to strategy. It is in experiencing the depth of the longing, experiencing the intensity of the energy of desire that we can gain access to the motivation to move toward the realization of the desire.