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Have you ever wanted something so badly it permeates your every waking second? Like a melody you can’t get out of your head, the wanting loops endlessly in your mind and its beat mimics that of your own heart.

Wanting of this kind is usually strongest for those things that are partially, or completely, outside of our control.

Perhaps we are driven to desire more deeply the things we can’t automatically have as some form of psychological compensation for what we can’t bring about with action alone.

To make up for what we lack in power over the circumstances in question, we want and we want it bad…emotionally, mentally, physically.

  • Finding love.

  • Having a baby.
  • Improving your health.
  • Working in your dream job.
  • Being recognised for your artistic talents.
  • Following your dreams in some way or another.

The wanting colours your present moment. It’s a hologram dancing in front of you – a what-might-be version of the future preventing you from living fully in the here and now. It seduces you…its spectral light diffracting your attention away from what is to what could be.

I think it’s important that I stop here and clarify that I’m not implying that wanting something you don’t currently have is wrong, pointless, or otherwise unhelpful. Not at all.

Wanting is a perfectly natural response to being connected to your values and committed to creating meaning in your life.

Committed to pursuing those things that make your heart beat harder and faster. The feelings and sensations of wanting are information.

And this information confirms that the source or outcome attached to the wanting rates on your scale of what matters in life.

In other words, if you plan on living fully, richly, and vibrantly, you can bet that wanting will show up as part of your emotional repertoire. It’s human to desire. It’s okay to want.

Until it gets in the way.

You knew there was going to be a catch, didn’t you?

Yep, there is a catch. When your wanting becomes the “Call Me Maybe” of your thought processes, when it takes over and you can’t hear anything else, you may find yourself entrapped. (Sorry! “Call Me Maybe” is in your head now, isn’t it?! See, that’s how wanting works, too – a looping melody without relief).

So, what do we do if wanting is constantly playing in the background? How do we stop it from paralysing us while still acknowledging our deepest desires? Keep in mind that the answers may be different for you, but here are my thoughts. Take them where they fit given your own experiences.

Acknowledge the wanting but don’t turn the volume up so you can’t hear anything else.

You don’t want to start a war with something that is inherently human. Instead, acknowledge your desire for what it is. Don’t resist the wanting, but don’t indulge it so much that you inadvertently delay your own happiness (because you can’t possibly be happy until you get what you want, right?! **sarcasm**)

You may not be able to turn it off entirely, but there’s a good chance that you can turn the volume down to detach a little from the record playing in your head about your desires.

Bring compassion to yourself.

Speak kindly to yourself. If the wanting is intense enough to be playing during a large part of your daily experience, then it likely brings you discomfort. It might remind you of what you feel is missing in life. It might burn. It might ache. So, please don’t add to the pain by invalidating, criticising, or ridiculing yourself. Hold yourself gently. Find where the wanting lives: It may be pushing at your chest, burrowed in your heart, tucked under your solar plexus, pulsing deep in your gut, or perhaps floating around your mind. Observe it as you might observe a piece of art – with curiosity, interest, openness. Remind yourself that it’s okay to want, and it’s also okay to go on living fully and meaningfully while you hold the wanting gently inside you.

Have the courage to get perspective.

This one is especially for those types of wants over which we have very little control. I’m the first to say this one is tough and may even be a little difficult to read – hold your own hand here and read on because I know you already know this deep down.

The fact is that you may go through life never getting what you want. It may not turn out how you are hoping it will. And if it doesn’t, what then?

How else will you find meaning? What else will you create with your life? How else will you feed your soul so it doesn’t starve?

The answers to these questions might be elusive at first. And taking the time to consider these answers takes courage.

It requires you to look into another future – one without the very thing that is precious to you.

Be careful not to convince yourself that it won’t happen at this point.

Just know that when you do find the answers, you’ll experience a softer landing should life turn sharply away from what you expected and onto a new path.

Have the courage to hope with perspective.

Take the perspective that you’ve created with your answers about “What else is life?” and then listen to Hope. We need her.

Without hope, there is no motivation to take action towards what we want. Hope is determined. Let her guide you, motivate you, and inspire you, and then…

Direct your energy towards what you can control.

Do whatever it is that you can do towards what it is that you’re wanting.

  • Plan.

  • Set goals.
  • Make lists.
  • Take steps.
  • All that you can think of, do it.

And if you’ve done all you can, settle in. Say hello to Patience. Shake hands with Faith. Keep living with vitality. Stay close to your other values. Do this until such time as you welcome what you want into your life…or until your intuition knocks at the door with a suggestion that it’s time to recalibrate your compass.

You’ve got this.