What do you want? Not just the desire of the moment. I mean deep, underneath it all, what do you truly desire? What things turn you on, make your knees weak, and fill you up with life?
For many of us, these can be really challenging questions. Desire is an inescapable aspect of life, but we are not encouraged to explore this part of our nature. Through the medium of our wants and desires, we get clear messages about our needs. Our deepest selves communicate values, unfulfilled wishes and areas where our lives are lacking. But the very power of desire can make it dangerous. It carries energy, urges us to take action to fulfill those wants. When we are unconscious of our own desires, when we refuse to face them, then we are at the mercy of forces that are truly beyond our control.
The advertisement industry is aware of this. We are surrounded every day by an average of 250 messages that play on our desires, urging us to take action, sending unconscious messages that our needs will be fulfilled with this car, that shampoo, or the next brand of make-up. Religions are aware of the power of desire as well. They take the opposite approach to that of advertising, attempting to suppress this powerful force of nature, condemning desire as evil or immoral. Both forces recognise that desire makes the world go round, providing the energy that drives us, forming the foundation of our motivations.
Desire is the energy that shapes and forms our lives, and new desires are constantly being born within us. Some few of us step in to embrace our desires, while most try to suppress, ignore, or redirect them. This is no surprise, with our society teaching us that many of our desires are selfish or even immoral. Religion thwarts our nature, condemning desire in all forms. But this is an unhealthy denial of our impulses. It creates a disconnect from our inner compass, the aspect of ourselves that is tuned in to our real needs and values. Of course, desires are powerful. They carry within them an “urge,” a drive to take action. Without moderation and from an unconscious place, our desires can lead us into obsession, or even into unhealthy behaviour patterns, places of greed, laziness, envy, and even violence.
That’s only half of the picture, though. We are hard-wired to want, and to take action towards the things we want. Suppressing our desires only causes them to surface in ways that run counter to our healthy needs. But facing our desires consciously and acting upon them with awareness helps us to understand and fulfill our needs. What’s more, it helps us to tap into our passion, our individuality, creativity, our own unique approach to life and connection. Desire motivates us to action; without it, we aren’t fully alive.
We can run from our desires and needs, but we cannot escape them. And they can be elusive, too. They may hide from our conscious awareness, but they’ll still show up in dreams or thoughts that pass unbidden through our minds. The consequence of leaving our desires in the dark is a feeling of powerlessness, a sense that life is just “happening to us.” Asking ourselves what we truly want is the first step to moving forward to collaboration with the world, co-creation with the universe rather than a simple acceptance of external forces.
So, it’s time to ask yourself, “What do you really want?” If the question gives you a bit of trouble, here’s an exercise to clarify your desires and bring them into the light:
Just take a few minutes with a pen and piece of paper, and pose yourself the question. Ask yourself what you want, and write down anything that comes to mind. There’s nothing too big or too small. You can make the exercise broad, covering the whole scope of what you want out of life, or focus it in on a particular area, your sex life, work, potential partner, any area you can think of. Try not to over think it, just let it come and write it down. You may come up with things as simple as engaging in a hobby, spending time in nature, or getting your hands dirty in the garden. It might be a bit less tangible, like time spent travelling or meaningful communication with a partner.
Write whatever comes without censoring it. Whatever fills you up, warms your heart, makes your mouth water, or gets your knees trembling. Whatever you really love to do. Wait a week or two, and then do it again. You might find that the answers aren’t quite the same. New desires may arise in that time, and old ones may fade. You may wish to do this a few times, then compare your answers. Look for the patterns, the things that come up each time, or the general trends. This will give you some clues to the types of desires you experience over time.
Another thing: watch how you feel as you write your desires, as you read them afterwards. Which of them feel light and empowering? Which ones feel heavy, unhealthy, or obsessional? Which ones do you embrace, and which do you run from? Which ones do you allow yourself to act upon, and which do you ignore? Try not to judge yourself. Every desire you have is there for a reason. This exercise helps to create awareness, to bring your desire nature into the light so that it can be addressed consciously. It’s about seeing, feeling, and accepting all parts of yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to act on everything that comes up. Actually, showing yourself those parts that you judge or keep hidden, bringing them into the light of your awareness, actually helps the unhealthy patterns to dissolve or to be addressed in healthy ways.
By becoming aware of our desires, we move past a life governed by unconscious urges and impulses. A greater understanding of self helps to release us from the enslavement of our shadow side. And since each impulse we have is a part of our framework of needs, bringing these parts of ourselves into our awareness is a key to deep healing and transformation. This awareness helps us to express and act upon our needs in ways that are healthy and supportive of our journey through life. When our needs, wants, and desires are revealed to us, we can finally begin to shape our lives in alignment with them.
Put simply, getting to know ourselves on this level, tuning it to our needs and desires, creates a powerful shift in our attitudes and behaviour. This one simple step can pave the way to reach new levels of success, joy, and fulfillment in all aspects of our life.