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When I first heard life doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you what you need, it drove me crazy. What was I supposed to do with what I wanted, then? Oh, right, get all spiritual and abjure it. You know, give it up, like chocolate or sugar in your coffee during lent. I was never v. good at that.
What was the point of wanting, then, and of the ferocity of desire? What’s the point of the emotions I feel when I can’t access what I want? What if I want food, an education or love? What if I want an MG sports car or Armani perfume, am I just superficial and materialistic? Is Life Teaching Me a Lesson that I’m Bad for wanting the Wrong Things?
It sounded like Catholicism: your desire is evil and will land you in hell. It will pester and tempt you your whole life, make you miserable, full of fear and self-loathing because you’re such a bad, unholy person. Never mind, though. You might get to heaven when you die. V. qualified might.
Being irreverent here, but at the heart of it is my problem with this idea. We have capacities to desire, to dream, to feel, but we mustn’t honor or even use them? We exist in a physical realm but that part which responds to the physical is bad?
Didn’t buy it when I was a kid, and I don’t buy it now. However, I can’t deny that I pretty much couldn’t have anything I ever longed for! I had crisis after crisis. I’d get up on my feet and think okay now I’ve figured it out, it’s over at last. Bam! Crash! Then the hurricane of all hurricanes. At that point, everything I desired seemed the furthest away. My life in pieces.
But from that place of absolute denial of all my desires, I began to be able to correct what was causing the crisis-craziness. So was life teaching me I was wanting the wrong things? No. Life was showing me that I very positively believed I was bad and worthless.
If you want something, you have to believe you’re allowed to have it. I know it can sound gooky, but wait till you want something really badly and you can’t have it. Then listen hard to yourself. You’ll see it. Bloody hell, I don’t believe I’m good enough.
I think beliefs about deservability are caused by v. early childhood relationships with parent figure/s. Every second of the day you’re getting overt and covert signals. By the time you’re 6 you got the message. You grow up acting it out, entrenching it. That’s a lot of experience time with those messages coursing through your brain. Hard-wiring.
Changing my beliefs had to happen over time in a relationship with a new parent figure, my therapist, who could show me that I deserve, and teach me a philosophy about life that made sense to me. I had to rewire my whole system!
I think our world tells us the truth about our beliefs. Eventually one day you realize, my world is changing. Well it’s true for me. Still a work in progress. And yes, as I experience the rewards of love, friendship, having fun and being real, my longing for the material stuff doesn’t have the same edge. I still desire the material to express my creativity with, but I don’t need it to fill the abyss.
Don’t have any abyss any more. I don’t think Life Teaches you the Big Lesson about the wrongness of desire. I think desire leads you to the reality of your entitlement and self esteem – so that you can correct them, and experience a more rewarding life at all levels. For me there’s a grounded connection between the spiritual part of us and the material. I like them both, and I’m going to do my best not to sacrifice one for the other.