How following desire goes bad
There’s a lot of confusion around allowing desire to lead decision making.
Every day I see inspiring posts with fancy lettering that say things like “follow your heart” or “desire reveals design and design reveals destiny.”
The problem is that there are different experiences of desire.
Some of them actually have negative consequences.
This is because our brains are programmed to desire pleasure and avoid discomfort.
In the cave woman days, our lives depended on our desire for the pleasure of food, shelter and companionship.
Fast forward to today when we have those basic needs met and then some. We now have instant access to a million different kids of pleasure, often in highly concentrated form like:
- Salty, fatty food
When we habitually engage with these things, instead of feeling satiated, we feel more desire.
Desire to have a second helping, eat dessert, get a vanilla latte w/ whip, have a glass of wine, eat fast food, watch TV all evening, smoke a cigarette, roll a joint, etc.
Why do you do these things?
You do these things to change how you feel.
You do those things to feel “better.”
Because your brain is programmed to seek pleasure, whenever you feel a negative emotion, it’s going to feed you ideas for how to escape it.
It does this by generating thoughts that lead to feeling desire.
The Brain says: “uhoh, you don’t feel good!! We can’t have that. No, no, no. You have to do something to feel better right now!….. I know what to do! A cookie. Eat a cookie. It will make you feel better. Eat a delicious cookie. Then have another one. Go. Now! Cookies! Cookies, now!”
When you go through this cycle enough, you develop a habit of avoiding negative feelings.
This results in the following:
- You experience the negative effects of the habit (indigestion, excess weight, diabetes, lung disease, unhappy relationships, lack of true human connection).
- Each time you engage in the habit, it creates the conditions to do it again and again and again.
- You’re not fully experiencing the emotional spectrum of your life.
Negative feelings are a part of being human.
You can’t fully appreciate the sun without also experiencing the rain. And when you run from shame, grief, vulnerability, sadness, etc, you don’t fully process your own life experience.
We are supposed to feel bad sometimes.
My teacher, Brooke Castillo, says life is 50/50. We feel good 50% of the time and bad 50% of the time.
We aren’t supposed to feel happy all of the time!
How would your life change if you allowed yourself to feel negative emotions fully?
Would you cry with a friend instead of having a drink (thus creating more intimacy)?
Would you express your frustration with a partner instead of keeping it bottled up (thus avoiding an explosive fight)?
Would you sit with your anxiety instead of smoking a joint (and strengthen your own sense of compassion and power to deal with adversity)?
Feeling negative feelings might sound hard but it’s SO worth it because you build resilience and gain authority over your own desires (instead of being driven by them).
The first step is to gain awareness over your emotions and the activities you use to escape.
- What negative feelings to I try to avoid?
- How do I avoid them (what are your indulgent activities)?
- What can I do instead?
Try that on this week and let me know how it goes!
Love and light,
P.S. Breaking old habits can be hard. Asking for help can be a powerful step to show your commitment to change. If you’d like the help of a holistic life coach (me!), I’ve got a ton of amazing tools to help you make the journey. Schedule a free consult to propel you on your way.