We all have desires. We react to various desires in different ways. Some seek to separate from desire because desire causes suffering. Others attempt to master desire—whether through force, a higher power, a change in attitude…
What do you believe about desire? Is desire always fundamentally bad or unspiritual? Should you feel ashamed of your desires?
Imagine your desire for whatever you’re addicted to. Regardless of right or wrong, do you associate that desire with suffering, shame, secrecy…? Such associations seem reasonable, though are perhaps unhelpful.
If addiction is doing what you’ve had every good reason to tell yourself not to do, then desiring what you’re addicted to is wanting something you know is potentially harmful.
Can potentially harmful desires ever also be helpful?
I want to share a new approach to desire: What if instead of forcing yourself to ignore, fight, transcend, or replace a desire, you actually faced it?
What if you didn’t move toward or away from any of your desires at all? What if you just kept going about your normal life while feeling the full weight of every desire, seeing each for exactly what it is?
I don’t want to start a new religion or movement. It just seems we humans love to try to artificially compartmentalize the mass of forces, compulsions, desires, convictions, and intentions that all merge uneven in time to form our inner selves.
You can identify and study each component of who or what you are inwardly. You can benefit greatly from capturing and categorizing your real intuitions and experiences over time. But life can’t really be compartmentalized. You grow from and through each aspect of every state in which you find yourself.
The will to do anything but fully face the weight of all your desires might come from a good motive—a reaction to something you see causing real problems. But it’s impossible to manipulate, escape from, replace, or force your state to change.
That’s why I believe it’s best to see and experience your state for exactly what it is. Then you can grow up through your state as its limits are naturally expanded.
Running from desire is attempting to build a new self upon a foundation that’s not there.
I believe there can be a purity to even the desires you’re most ashamed of if you come to face and experience them honestly and completely, neither running nor giving in.
Giving in compulsively only pushes the desire a little further back, anyway.
See exactly how your desires weave and lash themselves in and out amongst your state.
Then share your experience.
I wrote this way back on November 3, 2011 (I might have been high; I’d only been using medical weed for less than a year at the time):
“Being led by compulsions is sort of like a ‘90s teenager trading the friends, fun, and scary adventure of a first high school party for staying home and watching the show, Friends, instead.
“I’d rather face the full depth and breadth of all my desires instead of trying to strangle them or offer any kind of substitute.
“Desire itself is a representation of life. It’s to know deeply and experientially exactly what I want.
“Desire shows me a real part of who and what I am. Seeing myself that way is also seeing that, if my desires are fulfilled the right way, my experience is immeasurably better.
“Addictions might be the result of never seeing the value of facing, feeling, and sitting with desires.
I remember being alone at my parents’ house one day when I was eleven. The babysitter had taken my little sister out somewhere. I literally spent that entire day vividly daydreaming about kissing this girl in my class.
I’ll never forget how fun it was to talk about stuff like that late at night at sleepovers.
Before I had access to medical weed, I remember literally dreaming nightly about getting high, and then waking up to think about it all day. It felt like pining for a long-lost friend.
In the South Park episode, Raisins, the loveable Butters gets his heart broken. After a process of reacting to his feelings in different ways, he concludes: “I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive, y’know? It makes me feel human, and the only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I’m feeling is like a, beautiful sadness.”
Facing desire requires perspective, which equates to maturity.
Trust me, when I was eleven and dreaming about girls, I didn’t find it enjoyable. I wouldn’t have waited if I didn’t have to.
Now I wish I could still want to kiss someone that much.
I wish I could want to get high as much as I did when I used to dream about it.
So, how do you face desire?
I wrote this in 2014 (while high):
“As I learn to best manage myself in the moment each day, I also want to learn to fully face my desire for weed whenever I feel compelled to get high at times other than when I’ve told myself I should.
“Learning to value sitting with desire is the final self-management step.
“Face your desire for everything you want to learn to balance or control.
“Weed is just the most prominent thing I’m facing my desire for right now.”
I wrote this a couple days later (while high):
I’d say learning to appreciate the value of experience, and learning to face desire, are the two most important landmark lessons of my Facing Addiction journey.
Tomorrow: why the process that culminates in facing desire really doesn’t matter unless…
P.S. It still took me months to really get what I was saying here about facing desire. At first, I tried to keep a Facing Desire journal to write in whenever I really wanted to get high but knew I shouldn’t.
But keeping that journal felt so unnatural.
I now believe the whole point of facing desire is to find joy and peace in doing absolutely nothing (or just whatever you’d normally be doing) while seeing exactly what you want on different levels.
Let facing desire show you just how alive you really are.
Don’t run. Face.
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