Ashamed of Desire Itself

Moving in Silence

Occasionally I see or hear people advising others to “move in silence”  and not share their plans or desires with others. While that may be a good strategy for protecting yourself, it is not a great strategy for gaining support. Perhaps there is some merit to the advice. Maybe everyone doesn’t need to know your plans or your intent.

Sometimes you don’t trust the reliable and intentionally supportive people in your life when they roll up their sleeves to help, or share their resources, or brainstorm with you for ideas. I find this type of “moving in silence” to be a function of fear and shame. Fear that you won’t accomplish what you desire and shame of the desire itself.

What do you really want?

From an early age, and often for good reasons, we are all taught to suppress our desires. In fact, I would argue that most people are hard pressed to describe what they really want. People can identify their surface desires – the things that they want because tradition says they should want it – and people generally know what they want in terms of basic needs.

But when it comes to what enhances one’s life – the desires of the heart – people travel the path of trying to determine what is deserved. As if loving and receiving love is a matter of deserving.

When it comes to wanting more than enough resources – money, for example – people tend to believe that is a matter of deserving. As if having more than enough of what one needs is a function of deserving it.

We have a tendency to associate getting what we want (or desire) with someone else not getting what they want (or desire) and vice versa. Someone else getting what they want means there is less for everyone else.

The key to uncovering what you really desire is to get honest with yourself about your fears and to wade through what you have cultivated in your life as a function of protection, such as:

  • The job you that wears you down
  • The relationship that caters to your lesser self

Why are we afraid?

Underneath the surface, when it comes to what is truly desired, there are layers that cover up that desire. Perhaps this is to protect it from the prying eyes or judgment of others. We don’t want to be pitied or disappointed. We don’t want to be vulnerable or risk ridicule.

Many of us would rather others guess what we want, need and desire…and many of us reject what we want if it is freely offered. We don’t trust people, God, the Universe, or other belief systems to actually provide what we desire most.

In simple terms, it comes down to trying to avoid pain. We are ashamed of our desire and many of us privately ridicule the desires of others…because they dare to express “I want.” They dare to hope, when perhaps we have let hope subside.

You don’t think that you privately ridicule others?

Think back to the last time you said or thought “so and so just wants attention.” Seeking and providing attention is the basis of our early nurturing in infancy. It is a blueprint for our lives. Do we believe someone will show up when we need help? Are we certain we will be abandoned? Or does the truth lie somewhere in between?

Later in our relationships, do we co-create relationships that involve what John and Julie Gottman describe as “turning toward” or “turning away”? When someone who matters to you “bids” for your attention…do you turn toward them and listen? Or do you keep doing what you are doing and ignore them? Do you promptly set limits so you can attend to their needs when you can be fully available? And if so, do you make sure to follow up, or do you conveniently forget?

Do you think people desire too much praise? Would you rather keep kind thoughts about others to yourself because you think it might be embarrassing to say “I admire you” out loud?

What keeps some of us from supporting each others goals and dreams?

Sometimes we don’t support others because we think “no one helped me.” While that is rarely true….it’s clear that pain resonates in our minds louder and longer than the absence of pain. This is protective factor. We are protected from our deeply held desires because it can seem that even wanting what we want is an emotional risk.

Do we support our own desires? How quickly do we abandon what we say we want most in favor of what we think we can have? Or do we abandon it because what we want requires the hard work and discipline of taking responsibility and holding ourselves accountable? All the while we see others struggle through what we ourselves fear. We have a choice. We can choose to embrace them and see ourselves in them. It is our own imperfection, our own struggle.

Instead of becoming so uncomfortable with our desire for something more, something different, or something else…short of wanting something that is harmful to someone else….let us not be ashamed of wanting. Because perhaps if we can get honest with ourselves, we can all support one another just a little more.

When I see you…I see me…if I’m kind to me…I can be kind to you. If we can do this we will not ignore our own desires for success, connection, attention…we would not presume those desires to be “base,” and thus unbecoming. We could all want, provide, give and receive just a little bit more of what is real and sustaining.

Then perhaps fewer of us would be running on fumes.

Copyright © 2018 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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