Accepting What We Really Want
The Union Path Podcast - Accepting What We Really Want
What do we want? What do we really want? What actually drives us? What motivates us? What gets us going, and what keeps us going? What makes us stop? What makes us want to stop?
In a word, it's desire, but it's more than that. It's more than the idea of preference. It's more than the idea of taste. Real desire, real deep down, wanting comes from a different place. It's not so much about gratification, from a sensory perspective. It's not so much about excitement. It's really more associated with things like meaning, comfort, being at home, being one with ourselves.
I think it's a really funny thing, and maybe this is a gift of mid age, how foreign I can get with what I want. How alien some of these desires can feel like. How a lot of what I want feels rooted in the past, of things that I used to do, that I no longer do. Of things that I used to pursue, where I've given up the chase.
And oftentimes I have very good reasons why I've done so. I gave up for a reason. I abandoned it for a reason. And those reasons can be anything from pain to disappointment, to frustration, to just simple evidence. That it just seemed like not only was this not working, but it was never gonna work. It was never gonna happen.
This was never gonna come true, and it just seemed easier to just put it all down, to let it go, but let it go out of a sense of being rid of it. Kinda like a house cleaning where I would kind of go through my psyche and gather all the things that felt like they were just completely unreasonable and discard them.
But then, if I'm honest, if I really look at how this abandonment has served me, the truth is, actually not very well. By letting go of what I wanted, on some level, on a very deep level, what I needed, actually made things worse. Actually built up a sense of conflict. Actually built a state of conflict, that could never quite be reconciled.
And unfortunately, I think this happens to a lot of us, especially during childhood. We asked, what do we want to be when we grow up? And then, at a certain age, quite often talked out of that. Kind of get a pat on the head and say, oh, that's nice, but it'd be far more reasonable to want this instead.
But that's the thing about desire, that's the thing about what we really want, on some level, it doesn't actually feel like we actually choose that. It doesn't feel like these true, heartfelt desires were a product of contemplation and logic and elimination. Quite often these paths, of least emotional resistance end up not really being that satisfying.
That by stripping things like frustration and failure and sadness and pain, we strip everything else away too. We deny that part of ourselves that wants these things, and then we deny ourselves of living the life where these things are actually present.
Oftentimes, it can be so easy to quit too early. It can be so easy to internalize the wrong message, take the wrong lesson, at least in the short term. But these turns away from ourselves, these paths that don't really feel like ours, if we let them, can eventually lead us back, and not only that can often lead us forward.
That we can not only learn a lot by what we do, we can learn a lot by what we don't do. We learn a lot by what happens, but we also learn a lot by what doesn't happen. Awareness is an opportunity not only for what is, but also for what isn't, and each can be equally valuable.
But by going through life, by making decisions based on what seems to be the most reasonable, what seems to be the most likely, what seems to be the safest, least bumpy path is for some of us,
for me anyway, I can realize I kind of miss the bumps. I kind of miss being jostled around and even beat around a bit, because at least that meant I was trying. At least that meant I was pursuing something that was important to me.
And so when we look at ourselves fully, deeply, honestly, I think it's really important to acknowledge, well, what do we actually want? What do we really want? What's that yearning back there? What's that longing I've learned to ignore? When I look inside of myself, what's in there, really?
When I look at my life, in the absence of these things, how does it really feel? Am I content? Do I feel like I'm living a full life, or is my life defined by looking for more, looking for something. And maybe I've buried these desires so deep I've forgotten what I'm even looking for. I keep trying and trying and trying, and nothing is really satisfying. Nothing really hits the spot.
When I bias my choices around what seems to be reasonable and accessible, there just really isn't that nourishment there. And if I'm honest, even though going through struggle, going through pain, suffering isn't not that great in the moment,
it's more than worthwhile when it actually leads somewhere. It's more than worth worthwhile when it's actually part of a process.
But that's a difficult thing to acknowledge. It's a difficult thing to look at my life and say, you know, maybe things would be better if I actually suffered a bit more. Maybe what I'm looking for isn't necessarily any particular achievement, I just wanna feel alive. I want to feel whole, I want to be real. I don't want to do things just based on the value I've assigned to it. Sometimes value that's a bit arbitrary, if not wrong-headed.
But the most important thing when I find myself pursuing things I don't actually want, is a sense of confusion, is a sense of self confusion, where I've lost touch with a part of myself. I've lost touch with some sort of essential, primal energy to walk through life with. My life becomes far more about will, far more about determination and grit, but I lose the sense of enjoyment, I lose the more rewarding, fulfilling, delicious parts of being. I've squandered the sparkle in my life, for what feels like balancing a math equation, getting to the right answer.
That's where a lot of this awareness, a lot of this mindfulness, can really get complicated. Really feel like it's not that helpful. That we've gotten used to living our life from a basis of efficiency and sound judgment, and discernment.
We can realize that we've undercut spontaneous joy. We've undercut serendipity. We've undercut connection, deep, full connection, not only with the outside world, but with ourselves as well.
And thinking back to childhood, it wasn't always this way. Especially as small children we're allowed to engage our desires. We're allowed to play, we're allowed to imagine. We're allowed to try all sorts of different things, and see what happens. We're allowed to experiment.
And of course there's boundaries around all of this, it needs to be appropriate and needs to be healthy, and needs to be social. We're not just trying to raise, you know, feral barbarians, but then something happens. Part of the maturation process for so many of us is to let these childlike things go. Let play go, it's time to work. Let experimentation go, it's time to stick to the known. Let risk go. It's time for safety.
But what do we lose in these bargains? What are we trading away? Is the danger of trying to do what we actually want really, all that dangerous? Is standing up to the social pressure of expectation and maintaining a certain status quo, really all it's cracked up to be? Is that what a full life is? Is that what I want?
It's up to us to answer this question for ourselves. To live a full life, no one can tell us what that actually means. No one can tell us what that actually is. We have to discover it on our own. Life is experiential, and the only way we'll know is to experience it first. And the only way to know, to really know on a deep level that we can trust as the truth, is to experience it first.
And so a big part of getting to know ourselves, learning to reacquaint ourselves with ourselves, is by really asking the question, well, what do I want? What do I need? Because there's something about the conflict of burying these desires deep down, that keeps us chasing after it anyway.
But when we paint ourselves into these corners of only certain things are acceptable, only certain things are good and right, there can be time where it's actually a good idea to question those ideas. Question them for ourselves. Like, is this really good? Is this really right?
And of course we don't want to hurt anyone else, we don't want to hurt ourselves, deep down, there has to be a way to reconcile this. There has to be a way for us to find our way.
We have to believe we have these desires for a reason. We're not meant to just be tortured by them. And we can learn a lot of really interesting things about ourselves when we really ask that question, well, what do I want? Really strive after, not only what do I want, but why? We can find all sorts of things we think we want, that we actually don't. Things that we've either been trained, or for some reason decided to pursue, that either really aren't that important or really aren't that satisfying, or both. We can realize compensations and coping that we're doing.
Especially when it comes to things outside of us, of being important, of being popular, being esteemable, being known, is really just a very inefficient and ineffective way of reconciling this conflict. That our insides are in turmoil, and so we try to build up all this mass and grandeur in our outsides to try to make up for it, to try to pave over this conflict within us. To bury this cauldron of emotions that's at a low boil, and try to build upward and outward from it.
But as long as we bury parts of ourselves, as long as we obscure and ignore parts of ourselves, then not only are we not living fully, we're not allowing this part of ourselves to be expressed, to actually help us not only live more but grow.
We're not integrated, we're fractured. And we're fractured because we haven't really made peace with who and what we are, completely. We've designated a fractional part of ourselves as good and acceptable, and have tried to bury the rest, is at the very least, unreasonable and unhelpful.
But of course, doing this is getting the way of life. Is doubting that we are the way we are for a reason, we are who we are for a reason. It's doubting that there's room in this world for us to express our fullness, and that just doesn't seem right. I think that's done in a very ham-fisted way of trying to control undesirable social behavior.
And of course we, again, we don't want feral barbarians running around, but I'd make the argument that these behaviors are in response to unmet needs and a lack of wholeness.
But oftentimes outbursts of negative behavior can be a stab at trying to regain some sense of agency, some sense of freedom, some sense of autonomy, over the pressures that are pushing on us. That are pulling us this way or that that are telling us we have to be a certain way, we have to be acceptable, and anything inside of us that's deemed unacceptable, needs to be buried and ideally forgotten about.
And so when we start to look at what we really want, and we start to identify things that are important to us, and then we really look at why, why these things really matter, we learn a lot about ourselves.
We can look at how the absence of these things has driven us to do certain behaviors, has driven us to engage in certain relationships, it's driven us to make certain choices, that usually don't work out so well. By working against part of ourselves, we make choices that seem to actually sabotage ourselves.
But this is a hard thing. Sometimes these desires can be really hard to face, but this is us. For any kind of spiritual growth, I think the doorway in is self-acceptance, self acknowledgement, self-awareness.
I don't believe any of us can really build truly meaningful, rewarding lives if those lives are based on a lie. If there isn't truth in who we're being, then there's going to be dysfunction in our action.
That's a big part of self-awareness, a lot of times the doorway into self-awareness, is to really identify, really befriend what we want. Really trying to get to know ourselves, who we really are, to see past the representative of ourselves that we employ to show other people, and really look at what we want, really look at who we really are deep down.
Because I think when we do, a funny thing happens. That when we actually fully accept ourselves, fully accept what we want, that in and of itself reconciles a lot of the conflict. That in and of itself reconciles a lot of the striving.
That when we can really make peace internally, a lot of the lack of peace on our outsides, seems to just fade away. That if we've been striving after some sort of attention on the outside, that once we give that attention to ourselves, those needs just seem to dissipate. That thirst seems to be quenched.
And I believe, to live a full life, to live a meaningful life, to live the life we actually want, it has to be fed from desire. It has to be fed from who and what we are on the inside, and we know who and what we are on the inside, by discovering it ourselves.
We need to break away from our senses a little bit. We need to break away from what we see, what we hear, what we take in from the outside, and we need to feel. We need to feel after who we really are, what we really want, what actually feels good, what actually makes us feel good about ourselves, as well as the opposite. We need to pay attention to all the myriad ways we feel bad.
And of course, once we start keying into all the ways we feel bad, then we start to notice some of the strategies we've built to try to make ourselves feel better. Whether it's an unhealthy relationship with substances, whether it's a unhealthy relationship with certain behaviors. Or it's just our own attempts to build ourselves up on the inside, by fabricating and reinforcing our outsides, there really does seem to be a flow to life.
Or at least it's been my experience that life feels it's flowing the best when it's inside out. When the well of my energy and motivation comes from a sense of inspiration, comes from a sense of feeling. Is fed out of enthusiasm and joy, appreciation, awe, wonder. And that might just be because I've never really had much luck doing it the other way around. I've never had much luck really generating these feelings from anything from the outside. Any amount of money, any type of possession, any type of achievement. Of course, it's nice, of course it can be enjoyable, but it's just not the same.
There feels something artificial to it. Like I'm eating something and feel like this should be nurturing and sustaining me, but this actually feels more like junk food. This feels more like empty sensory stimulation, rather than true nourishment.
And I think one of the hardest things about really coming to grips with what we actually want, is that these desires can really fly in the face of cultural expectations. That it's kind of a funny thought experiment to think, what I'd rather have unlimited money or would I rather have unlimited love? Would I rather have unlimited fame and respect and importance, would I rather have infinite peace?
Cause I think the point I'm driving at is pretty obvious, that if we had infinite love or infinite peace, we wouldn't need anything else. That these things we strive after are really a way to fill in something missing.
But once we're really connected with love, we're really connected with joy, we're really connected with peace, when we're really in the flow of life, flowing from the fullness and who and what we actually are, there's nothing else needed. Wholeness is already whole.
Our striving is done out of a lack of fullness, out of an incompleteness, out of trying to make ourselves whole through something outside of us.
But it's my belief, it's my experience, especially over the long term, this isn't really possible. In fact, my experience more than anything has been all this striving begets, more striving. Comes back to the idea that, the energy that we experience with something is the same energy we put into it. That end results follow through from their origination. That if we come to something out of lack, then it's lack we experience. If we come to something out of pain, it's pain experience.
I think this is something we can all witness, that we can do the same thing, and get different results. And those results are most often dictated by the energy we were feeling when we did it.
This can get really difficult with things like coping strategies. If we find ourselves doing something that makes us feel good, that we try to repeat that in times where we feel bad, it doesn't really work the same way. We don't get the same juice, we don't get the same payoff. Well, why is that? Well, because when we're doing it to feel better, we're doing it out of lack, we're doing it out of a lack of feeling good, and that energy not only undergirds what we're doing, but is really presented back to us at the end.
That can really be a really difficult realization, to actually know what to do with it. Beause of course we're not gonna feel great all the time. We're gonna feel rotten sometimes, and of course it makes perfect sense, we want to make ourselves actually feel better.
But sometimes, doing what we think will make us feel better isn't actually what we need. And a lot of times these behaviors can become compulsive, can become habits. But then when these habits don't really pay off, there's part of us that doesn't really get that message. There's part of us that still thinks, well, maybe I just didn't do it enough. Maybe it'll work next time.
This is the root of what addiction is all about. That it can really be rooted in something not only very understandable, but good ideas. Of course, we want to feel better. Of course, we want to feel less pain. Of course, we want to suffer less. Of course, we want to be free of being overwhelmed and over stimulated, and everything just being too much.
But I don't believe this is really possible, especially over the long term, from anything on the outside. That we can't avoid our way into salvation. We can't ignore our way into truth. We can't numb our way into happiness.
Everything inside of us is meant to be faced. Everything inside of us is meant to be known. Doesn't mean it needs to rule us forever, because we'll probably come across some pretty dark and unsavory things.
But that's where our salvation lies, is in the grace, is in the forgiveness, is in the allowing ourselves to be exactly who we are, to make peace with everything we've done. To just be able to resolve these conflicts. All these weapons we have pointed against ourselves, just lay them down. Fully, accept ourselves, wholly and completely, and then move forward, from that place, move forward from that wholeness.
And sometimes when we discover parts about ourselves we don't really like, sometimes we discover or we discover memories inside of ourselves, the things we've done, that really feel bad about it, it's important to feel those feelings.
This introspection process isn't just a matter of whitewashing everything inside of us and saying, nope, everything I've done has always been consistently amazing and perfect.
No, it's being honest about feeling what these memories really feel like. Of knowing that they're there, knowing that happened, knowing that was real, and so are the effects of whatever we did, and we can use this awareness to grow. If we want to change, we can use that awareness to change. If we need to make amends or make things better, we can use awareness for that too.
Finding grace and acceptance with ourselves isn't just rubber stamping everything we find. It's about gaining awareness and then doing whatever's appropriate. It's about looking inside of ourselves and taking appropriate action on both the positive and the negative.
It's listening to our desires, listening to our heart, listening to the part of ourselves that just wants to feel love, and joy, and connection again, and then letting that guide our behavior, in whatever ways feel the best and feel the best match to that part of ourselves.
But the same thing with what we find in ourselves as negative. Not glossing over, not rationalizing, not excusing away reality. Really looking truth in the face. That if we're open and willing to fully face all the loving joy inside of us, we have to be willing to just as openly face all the pain and damage inside of us too. It's all there and it's all equally as valuable. It's all equally as worthwhile because it's all us.
Wholeness and self-awareness is not only the key to a full life, but it's the key to growth. It's the key to growing into more of what we actually are, of evolving, of advancing, of making progress.
Self-awareness is a lifetime project. There's always more to know about ourselves. There's always ways we can be more truthful about who we are, what we want, why we want, what we've done, what we want to do. There's always more to discover, there's always layers that we can find. There's always layers we can uncover.
Because whether we know it or not, we're acting out of our full selves anyway. If we're repressing or suppressing or ignoring, we're acting out of that too. Just because we're not conscious of something doesn't mean we're not acting from it.
And so the more consciousness we bring to ourselves, the more intentional we can be with our lives. The more clarity we bring to our lives, the more we're able to just untangle some of these knots that keep us bound up inside, feel like are blocking our full expression, we have to look at all of it. We have to look at all of ourselves. We have to really be honest. We have to really be curious, we have to really be understanding.
Because the fullness of who we are is already there. It's already there and it's waiting for us to discover it, it's waiting for us to express it. And the more awareness we bring to ourselves, the more pure that expression will be. We don't have to act out of coping strategies and avoidance.
We can bring a sense of fullness to our behavior. We can bring a sense of fullness to our choices. We can bring a sense of fullness to our lives, by living through our full discovered selves.
And when we walk this path of discovery, awareness, honesty, truth, courage, expression, then we bring more fullness to everything we do.
Our life gets transformed into things that are not only more meaningful, but more real. And we're more alive because of it. We're free, because we're no longer running from ourselves, we're no longer avoiding ourselves, we're no longer compensating and coping with ourselves, we're actually whole. And when we're actually whole, we're actually free. And we're actually free, we're actually alive.