When approaching the topic of desire there are a few different ways that people deal with it. Some people link desire and attachment together. Given that our attachments to the outcomes that do not manifest are one of the biggest sources of pain in our lives, if we have attachment and desire linked, avoiding desire would seem like a way to avoid pain.
I was one of those people who linked the two. I some how got the idea from my own interpretation of some Buddhist teachings I had come across. I saw desire as one of the things to eliminate from my life if I wanted to be free of pain. So I practiced transcending desire. I thought I had become quite good at it. I was living moment to moment and had simplified my worldly belongings down to the one set of clothes on my back and a handful of harmonicas. I had no goals in my mind and was free and available for whatever events unfolded as I hitchhiked from place to place.
It is true that I had eliminated a lot of desire but as I look back I would have to say that I also eliminated a lot of passion for life as well. I was so resistant to the possibility of desiring things that I did not allow my self to get deeply excited about anything. A flatness had developed in my life.
It was not until some time later that I started to allow desires back into my life. Sure enough, at first it did lead to pain because I would get attached to having my desires come to fruition and of course sometimes they did not. At this time I changed my approach: instead of trying to eliminate desire and passion for life to avoid pain, I decided to start working with letting go of my attachments to outcomes. This meant I could put out a floating preference for my desires to come true but if they did not, I would move on to something else. Unfortunately this approach did not always work. What I noticed was that if something that I desired was closely aligned with a deep sense of purpose in me, and it did not come to fruition, I would still be disappointed.
My next step was an exploration of disappointment and emotional “pain”. I had made a point of avoiding emotional pain up to that point in my life. I started to realize that two things were at play. One was that it seemed a common sense idea to avoid all pain if possible. The second was influencing me at a more subconscious level; it was a hidden belief that I did not have the capacity to handle emotional pain.
What I did not realize until later was that my efforts at detachment had never really eliminated emotional pain from my life, instead I had just buried it below my conscious awareness. In fact the behaviors I had incorporated to try to keep pain out of my life had actually created more emotional pain for me, because I had removed my freedom to be really excited and passionate about life’s possibilities. That was going against my soul’s natural desires and had backlogged a pile of grief around not giving myself the opportunity to live life fully.
As I lived a detached lifestyle without passion, I had been fooling myself into thinking that I was not a powerful enough person to face and feel disappointment. In turn set myself up to settle for whatever came along in life without even attempting to use the power of my influence to try to manifest what I wanted. Because I was not taking responsibility to consciously choose to help co-create the direction of my life’s events, I had put myself in a place of weakness where basically I was victim to whatever happened.
I now see that setting myself up to be a victim of events also helped me to avoid taking responsibility for what was happening in my life. As long as I saw it as life “doing me”, rather than me influencing life through my conscious choices, I could pretend I had no responsibility for the outcome of events. This self-imposed victimhood came with the heavy cost of being very disempowering. To live without passion and desire I had to pretend that I was not a powerful being with the ability to co-manifest a wonderful life. Yet all the pretending of powerlessness could not keep me away from the deep unconscious knowing that it was a lie. In turn, an anger was building about the self imposed victimhood that came with pretending to be detached, when in reality I had underlying irritations and disappointments about some things that were not going well. In order to maintain my victim stance, any anger that slipped out would have to be focused on someone, or some outside force that was supposedly keeping me down.
For my next step I decided that instead of trying to avoid emotional pain or trying to project it out on someone or something else, I would start to learn how to face the pain and feel my way through it. This has been one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding, adventures in my life so far.
As I had no previous training with facing my emotions it has taken a lot of practice to get to my present point of openness with my feelings. I am glad to report that I have a lot more ease with facing and feeling my emotions, even the deep and dark ones. Yes, I still resist them sometimes because of some uncovered fears that have not been fully cleared, but overall, if I get a sense that something is available to be faced and felt, I will invite it forward. This is because time and time again I have been rewarded with more inner freedom and a bigger sense of strength once I go through a feeling. No longer do I have to take the strategy of avoiding my passion and desire. This gives me the freedom to embrace more of life, which in turn deeply enriches my experiences.
If I desire something and it does not go my way, I know that I can handle any disappointment that arises. On the other hand, if I do manifest what I desire, the experience is filled with joy and passion.
I have found that the foundation for passion is based in clear conscious choice. Nothing kills off passion like victimhood. If I slip back into feeling life is “doing it to me” passion will be non-existent.
I have not found anything more empowering than taking accountability for my own input into life and being responsible for any results of my choices, including any feelings that may surface.
Kelly Tobey is a Transformational Facilitator from Calgary, Alberta. He supports people in opening to a passion filled life. He will be offering a Ten Day Retreat in Alberta, July 25 to August 4, titled Expand Into an Enhanced Self That Will Benefit Every Area of Your Life. For information contact Kelly Tobey at (403) 217-5533, email: email@example.com, Website: www.kellytobey.com