Why don't I have what I want?
A friend of mine joked the other day that he wanted a magic fairy to grant all his wishes.
"Well, what is it that you most want?" I asked, playing along.
"I dunno, but I have a lot of wants," he replied.
"Well, the first step is knowing what you want, exactly."
He responded with thoughtful silence. Then he answered with the standard, "Money, sex, love, peace, nourishment."
That's not very specific. That's where a lot of us get to… we know we have wants, but articulating them directly is actually pretty tricky.
So then I said, "The second step is understanding why you don't have what you want."
He took a moment, then sighed, "Ugh! When did you get so zen master?"
He noticed what most of us will notice when we look closely at that question, "why don't I have what I want?" It's so simple, usually. What's stopping us? What's in our way?
That's the interesting question.
That's the question we hate to ask ourselves.
Because in asking that question, we find most of the time it's our own damn selves stopping us. It's our habits, our procrastination, our fears, our being busy, our distraction, our inability to even admit what we want.
We look at what's blocking us and we find all the icky, gooey stuff about ourselves that we like to pretend doesn't exist. Our fears, our animal desires, our need for comfort, our quest for instant gratification, our lack of "will power" and "self control" (these phrases are total BS by the way, which is why I'm putting them in air quotes.)
The more we try to pretend we don't have animal desires for comfort and instant gratification, the more these desires become repressed and unconscious. And it turns out that those repressed
unconscious desires in our minds have *way* more ability to influence what happens in our lives than our lofty thoughts of health, wealth, and higher purpose.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung
So I may be consciously wishing for a perfect healthy body that enthusiastically jumps out of bed every morning, but deep down, my unconscious is *way more powerfully* wishing for comfort food, netflix binging until 2am, and skipping yoga class, again.
"Ugh, why do I do such awful things?" I cry in frustration…
…shaming and repressing my animal desire for comfort and instant gratification further into my unconscious, where it grows ever stronger.
So how do we pry those animal desires out of our unconscious where they have such a strong hold on us? Can we face them full on, bring them into conscious awareness, acknowledge them and even… here's a crazy thought… approve of them?
Whoa girl, shut up right now. Approve of my desire to stay up late with ice cream and netflix? I'm going to be a 300lb loser with no job and autoimmune disease if I keep indulging in this habit.
Hey, I didn't say keep indulging in it. I just said approve of the desire. Approving of it and acting on it are two different things.
Acknowledge that the desire exists and let yourself feel what it feels like to want what you want. Just sit with that feeling, without doing anything, for 15 minutes. Set a timer even.
Feel yourself wanting to comfort yourself and acknowledge how lovely that is. "Aww, thanks self, that's so sweet of you!"
Sound crazy? Don't knock it 'til you try it.
You might discover something deep.
Hit reply and let me know if you do.