The Act Of Wanting (3/3): Owning Your Deep Desires

…And the journey continues.

This is the last instalment in a three-part series concerning being in conscious alignment with one’s subconscious wants and vice versa. (Do I mean to sound like a wanna-be spiritual guru? Not at all. Oh well…)

I thought I’d share some tips I use to check myself whenever I seem to be straying from who I am (=somebody who is important to herself) or what I want. How I know when this is happening? I start to do inexplicable, self-destructive things that make no sense even to me. In addition, my bar or standards for what I consider self-sabotage lowers. Then I realise I’m not right with myself. Here’s a little example. I say that writing is important to me, right? And that I want to become a talented writer someday. (Yes. If I wasn’t born gifted I’m hoping I’ll become gifted. Leave me to my madness, please.) When my standards are high, I’m making time for writing no matter how busy the rest of my life is. I’m waking up at 4 or 5am. I’m reading novels and essays as well as writing during tea and lunch breaks at work. I’m editing before bedtime religiously, after reading another chapter of someone. And every night before I turn the lights out, I’ve scheduled a blog post for the next day or three. I’m doing everything I can to stay on track. It doesn’t matter that sometimes there are power cuts or sometimes I don’t have access to the internet or my devices are not co-operating. It doesn’t matter. Because I’ve already done everything possible to counter those eventualities.

But when my standards are low and I’m being self-destructive, I always have the perfect excuse. I’m entertaining people who have zero respect for my schedule while I make all sorts of allowances for their schedules. I’m spending extra time with people whom I love but who always take liberties with my self-esteem. I’m forgetting that guarding my peace is a constant endeavour until I am able to remove myself from toxic environments. I’m forgetting that how I feel, my time and my self-respect are my responsibility and are mine to protect.

So here are a few things I do to get back on track. Here is how I own my deep desires:

1. Say them out loud and/or write them down (right before you thoroughly dispose of the piece of paper). This works for me if what I’m desiring sounds horrible to me. I’ve found myself saying:

“I only did that because I am so lonely right now and I’m desperate to belong.”

-which made me sound pathetic

“When she said nothing I do should work out because her life didn’t work out the way she wanted it to, it made me want to make sure my projects don’t work out. Because who would I be if I didn’t have her approval?”

-which sounded so twisted, I was appalled

“Of course, he doesn’t care about me. Why would he? The other guy? No, I want someone ‘better’ than that.”

-which made me think, ‘Pick a struggle, b*tch! Plus you know you don’t even want to pick anyone because you think they’ll all hate you once they know you. How cliché and how effed up are you? Is there no end to your issues?’

([sigh] Yes. Myself and I actually said that to me. The nerve…)

So once I’ve said these things, I can’t take them back. I spoke them from my heart. I said it. So now it IS. And I need to do something to replace what IS with what I want there to be. It already was because it was in my soul/spirit/head. But now there is no denying it.

And it might take some time and unintentional messy behaviour to decipher what you even need to say to yourself. Some of it has taken me years. But every second was worth it. I’m more at peace knowing than not knowing.

2. Wean yourself off your unhealthy desires. Based on my above examples, (a) I would go about this by taking care to enjoy the time I spend alone even more than I usually do as well as making quality time for people who have been trying to reach out to me while I was pushing them away in favour of the people who make me feel like scum. I find that I am usually only as lonely as I allow myself to feel. The world has been kind to me in certain respects. There are people who actually appreciate me. It’s what I do with that affection that either makes or breaks my friendships. As I mentioned yesterday, taking responsibility is important. Here I’d be weaning myself off the desire to desperately belong; the desperation was never necessary. Some people made me feel alone, I let them and, in the process, I let the people who actually appreciate me go. Context is crucial. (b) Get away from anyone who directly or indirectly encourages you to fail nomatter how much they tell you they love you. (c) Remind yourself each morning of your ‘dateable’ points: good, precious things that come naturally to you –always have since you were a child – and go for people who particularly appreciate you when you’re being your best self without trying much.

3. Fill that gap with something else and don’t romanticise your flaws. So in example (a), you’d do that by filling the time when you feel lonely with quality time with yourself and people who are sincerely good to you. In that quality time, do your favourite things and do something for those people who genuinely care about you. Show them things that you love about them, not because they’ve helped you but just because you have also grown to genuinely care about them. I know some people will say every human interaction is a transaction anyway but you don’t have to do it the greedy, unfeeling way, right? (b) After getting away from people who make you want to self-sabotage, fill the gap left by your desire to fail with remembrance. Remember a time when you got an accolade that became dear to you and the influx of positivity winning that accolade brought into life. Soak in that feeling then set a goal for yourself and work steps to take towards the goal into your daily routine. Don’t forget to set timelines. When you achieve the goal, make sure to celebrate with people who would truly be happy for you. Rinse and repeat until you can feel it in your bones that you deserve to win when you set a goal for yourself. *And please don’t romanticise your flaws.* People you’re trying to get away from will try to make it sound like you were living your best life when you were miserable, why did you change, and all that. Remind yourself that those were not the good old days and keep it moving.

4. Start hanging out with people who represent what you really want. For example, if you’re a daughter who wishes she had a better relationship with her mother, hang out with friends who get along well with their mothers in a healthy way. This counters that ‘absoluteness’ that happens when something has been a staple in your life, causing you to subconsciously believe that life is like that and daughters ‘just don’t’ get along with their mothers.

5. Act as you really want to be. I don’t like the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ but I do agree with it in this case. Put on the attitude you want to have towards friends, colleagues, men, women, children until it becomes who you are. If that attitude is that you want to be respected, treat yourself with respect in front of everyone around you until that is your reality. Put on your best clothes regularly, walk with your chin up, smile at crying babies, if someone is mean to you cut down the amount of attention and time you usually give them, express gratitude when you would have complained because this sends the message that your life is going to be okay and you’re able to handle it, make time for your own needs.

That concludes this series. What it boils down to is this: the day you acknowledge what you really want is the day you decide who you’re about to turn into.

The Act Of Wanting (2/3): Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Disclaimer: Apologies for the preachy tone of this article. I’m sharing some things I’ve learned. I might just be talking to myself, quite frankly.

Yesterday, I wrote about how we have two versions of our lists of desires: the list of what we think we want and the list of what we really want – which is usually buried in our subconscious. The two are not always in alignment. How do I know when my lists don’t match? By observing my actions: I really want what I am actually investing my actions into.

I know it probably sounds obvious but it took me a while to understand this much deeper than from an intellectual standpoint. It’s as if my life –or the development of my mental self – has been a backpack full to the brim. I have been unpacking this backpack (pretend the unpacking hands are my experiences) and, each time I do, the knowledge is transferred from my subconscious to my conscious(ness?). I was born with this backpack but I could not unpack it unless I actually went through some things.

One of the lessons I’ve learned during this process is that you really want what you are actually doing not necessarily what you say you want. As it applies to yesterday’s article: the people who wanted to be super rich did whatever was necessary, restructured their behaviour, shifted whole aspects of their lives in order to get there. Sometimes getting to where you want to be is a matter of strategy, particularly if you’re even remotely in an environment that can support your goals and you’re there at the right phase of your life. Some other things may simply be a matter of talent and genes but I’m not talking about those things.

I’m talking about things that we know we would have liked to have, had the opportunity to have, but somehow let that opportunity pass by. It’s fine. It’s also fine not to have wanted what you ‘should’ have wanted. I’ve come across people where this applies to children, steady careers, lovers who were perfect but just not for them, a relationship with one’s mother, fame… Success, even.

Not being in alignment with what you think you ‘should’ want tells you so much about your current situation and who you really are or what you truly struggle with. Please do not ignore it. Don’t be ashamed of it. Don’t allow yourself to sink into guilt. Don’t numb yourself until you get used to an undesirable situation. Even when what you really want seems evil, wicked and anti-social, it helps to acknowledge that you want it. That way you can deal with it. You do not have to come across as a healthy or good person if it means shutting down your real self until one day you snap and it affects a number of people’s lives. If you acknowledge that aspect now, while you still have some modicum of control over yourself, all the better for everyone –as long as one thing is understood: with acknowledgment comes responsibility.

Once you’ve seen yourself for all your different sides, you must take responsibility for everything –particularly the things that will definitely have a widespread negative impact on other people. Do something to make sure you unseat these deep psychological worms or kinks. Also, take responsibility for the things that are simply you. Things that maybe your family or culture doesn’t allow but really only truly affect you. If your parent is abusive to you – in whatever way – and it would be culturally unsound to cut ties with them, think about how cutting ties might allow you to heal and have a healthier relationship with your own children. If travelling the world instead of settling down in the corporate world is what you want to do, maybe do it. Your future self won’t understand when you someday try to explain that nobody approved of you –a grown adult – going off by yourself to explore. Yes, eventualities and worst case scenarios must be planned for but do something. If you have a complex that makes you self-sabotage or you feel uncomfortable whenever you’re successful, ask yourself what makes you feel you shouldn’t be the one to have a life of achievement and good things. Why should you always be right there with everyone who is having a hard time? Yes, empathy is good but not to the extent where you feel guilty for anything good in your life. Being a good person is ideal but why must you be the martyr in every equation?

There are so many situations we may find ourselves in that require us to understand why we want to remain in an untenable circumstance or why we want to want what we say we want. But life is short. Even 80 years is not all that long. There’s nothing noble about sacrificing your life to your psychological burdens, or cultural norms that are just not for everyone, or people who never really loved you in the first place, or people who love you so much it limits and stifles you. Are you willing to give yourself a fair shake in this life?

How much do you desire to want better for yourself?

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