Wants, needs, desires, wishes, attachments…

Yesterday I posted about finding out what we really want.  I suggested that we don’t want objects or experiences, but we want the feelings that we think we’ll get from those objects or experiences.   I also suggested something that might be harder to swallow…that we can work our way through those wants and desires by practicing feeling a sense of enough in our bodies.

It is worth spending a little time on this whole concept and experience of “enough.”   I am a classic “never enough-er,” according to Jack Lee Rosenburg, founder of Integrative Body Psychotherapy.   I am a person who just doesn’t know how much is enough.  Correction….I WAS a person like that.   That was the way that I functioned in the world.

When I was a young adult, I attributed this characteristic to being raised in a home where alcohol was an influential factor.   Adult children of alcoholics often struggle with enough.  I found that I could not entertain without making more than twice enough food.  If I carefully planned out the food, I’d rush out at the last minute to buy more, certain that running out of food would be a disaster.   When I was a student, I could never figure out when a paper or project was finished.  I would keep working and working on it, until I had actually undermined the work I’d done.  I learned to procrastinate because then the time constraints would tell me that “this is enough…”  because I had to turn it in.

credit: http://ttactechtuesday.pbworks.com/w/page/7857889/AT%20Solutions%20for%20Writing

In later life, I struggled with binge eating, and with binge exercising, running on an injury to the point of needing surgical repair.  I could not tell what was enough.  I never felt that I was enough in any situation, always over-preparing my classes when I was teaching at the university, always having to read more, and buy more books about any topic I need to study.  In fact, I had so many unread books at one time that I made a tidy sum selling them on Amazon.  (Not as much as I’d spent originally, of course.)

By almost any measure, it was clear that I could not tell what was enough.  I didn’t trust my own body experience to tell me what I needed, wanted, or when I was ready to stop.  I overworked, over-ate, over prepared, and over-thought just about everything in my life.

Through body-based therapy, meditation, journal work, and much attention to my own moment-by-moment experience,  I have found a better place for enough in my life.  I now make it a daily practice around eating, sitting in meditation, and in my work to ask myself if this is enough.   I have developed a couple of mantras that help, too.

Credit: http://robertballew.com/2010/11/making-peace-with-your-body/

Now that I can feel that sense of “enough” in my body, and I can trust it enough to take action around it, I don’t struggle nearly as much with the wants, desires, and wishes that used to plague me.   I know what is enough.   For most of my life, for most things in my life, I have enough.  I am enough.  There is enough.

In this moment, right here and now, the only moment that actually matters because it is the only moment that I am actually living, there is enough.

I am enough.

This is good enough.

And good enough is good enough.

What do you REALLY want?

I have been thinking a bit about wants and needs.   We often want something…something that seems indefinable, amorphous, something that feels out of reach.  Trying to nail down that wanting feeling can be hard.

However, some people have their  wants clearly identified.  If only, they think, if only I had a new car, then I’d feel really good.  Or…if only, if only I could go on vacation and just take some time off, THEN I would feel really good.  Or maybe, if only, if only my husband/wife/mother/father/teacher/boss would just change their behaviour, then I would feel okay.  Or maybe, if only I had someone to love me in my life, if I only had a partner who really, REALLY loved me, then I would feel okay.

So sometimes we want concrete objects:  the new car, the big flatscreen tv, the smartest phone.  Sometimes we want time and luxury:  vacation, travel, food or entertainment.  Sometimes what we want is something from another person:  their attention, affection, or some kind of treatment that we experience as positive.

But do you hear the commonality that underlies all of these wants?  Do you hear what we expect each of those things, experiences, or behaviour of a person?   We expect that WE will feel a particular way, a particularly GOOD way, if we could have the wanted item or experience.

What we really want isn’t a car or a tv.  It really isn’t a vacation or someone to love us.  What we really, REALLY want, is the feeling that we think we’d have under that desired circumstance.

So no, honestly, I don’t want my boss to stop bugging me.  I want to FEEL the way I think I’d feel without that behaviour.  I want to FEEL unbugged.

So all I really need to do is change how I feel;  take charge of my own feelings, stop giving my power to feel to other people or to my negative thoughts, and just FEEL unbugged.

Sounds easy….and it can be.  If we can accept that we construct our feeling of want by our thoughts, fantasies, and wishes, then perhaps we can construct a feeling of having enough in that same way.   Or try this:  notice when you DO feel “enough…”  What is it like in your body and mind when you feel “enough?”   When have you had “enough” to eat?  “Enough” work for the day?  “Enough conversation,”  “enough sleep,”  “enough music?”   How do you experience enough?   Then allow that feeling to spread throughout your life…so that what you are right now, what you have right now, what you experience in THIS moment….THIS is enough.  Enough for now.

When the craving or wanting or desiring or attachment to objects arises, see if you can locate a sense of “enough” in your body and rest in that.

Needs?  Well, that can be a topic for another day!

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