The brutal truth about “letting go of desire”

Is the key to a fulfilling life letting go of desire?

It’s something you hear a lot from New Age gurus and spiritual teachers, but the truth is a little different.

In the video below, I explain how to actually let go of desire effectively so that you get what you want in life.

Quick warning: this isn’t one of those cheesy videos where I tell you how great my life is, and if you just follow what I say, you can be abundant like me.

This is just real and honest advice about how to truly let go of desires in a way that results in having more prosperity, love and success.

If you push down your desires, you’ll be miserable and repressed. But if you let go of desire in the right way, you’ll be able to have much more fulfillment and clarity in your life.

In order to succeed, we just have to approach letting go of desire in a different way.

Desire means you don’t have what you want

The main way of approaching letting go of desire is based on the insight that having desire tells ourselves that we don’t have what we want.

According to this theory, when you desire something, you affirm the belief that there is “lack” in your life.

And when we have a belief, we naturally look for evidence to affirm that belief.

For example, if I tell myself that I don’t have enough money, I’ll notice all of the different things I want to do in life that I can’t afford.

I’ll begin paying extra attention and giving extra emotional energy to those scenarios that make me feel poor and upset about my finances.

When you’re focused on what you don’t have, you begin to reinforce this every time you look around. This then creates a perpetual cycle of lack.

Psychologists call this confirmation bias.

As Shahram Heshmat writes:

“Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively.”

New Age folks call it the Law of Attraction.

This is one of those ideas that’s sort of true, but also incomplete.

Yes, you will start to reinforce negativities if they’re what you focus on. But telling yourself you already have all that you desire is also very ineffective and counterproductive.

Another spin on desire

Another spin on this is the idea that everything you have is already within you. It’s very related to the last point.

I don’t like this either, because it also creates this sense of inadequacy and not being “good enough.”

For years I chased ideas like this, trying to raise my “vibration” and ending up feeling guilty and incomplete when desires, frustrations and problems inevitably emerged.

That’s because I was fighting against my own human nature.

I was dividing myself into fictional ideas of “good” and “bad” energy that were keeping me stifled from being honest about myself or my own struggles and victories.

I was sectioning off entire areas of life as things which shouldn’t be my focus because they were too “ego-based.”

I wanted to be one of the “high vibration” guys who doesn’t want stuff because it’s already inside him and he’s just super self-sufficient and at peace inside.

Is it bad to desire many things?

But the truth is that desire isn’t “bad.”

The truth is there’s nothing “wrong” or bad about wanting something. In fact, it’s a great place to start.

Everything in nature from a thirsty fern to a hungry whale wants something, even if it’s just some raindrops or a nice dinner of plankton.

A male lion wants to find a sexy lioness: that’s the circle of life! It’s natural and it’s beautiful.

Considering your desires or outer things to be what will fulfill you and “complete” you is obviously a trap, but wanting something itself is perfectly good.

Trying to tell yourself you already have everything you want is a lie: and nothing good comes from a lie.

If you want better relationships, more money, mental and physical wellbeing and more, convincing yourself these are already something you’ve achieved is ridiculous. You can tell yourself it’s Zen Buddhism, having “faith” or trusting a higher power or the “Universe…”

But it’s basically just denying reality.

The struggle to achieve and overcome hardship is one of the greatest things in life. The desire for what we don’t yet have is as natural as breathing.

Instead of telling yourself you don’t want anything or already have it, you need to focus your energy in a different way that leads to lasting fulfillment.

How to really get what you want

This is something I personally learned in Brazil from the shaman Ruda Iande. With an emphasis on making shamanism applicable to people in their everyday lives, Ruda has really opened my eyes about looking at life – and myself – in a new way.

Ruda taught me to look at desire in a whole new way that has been very successful for me.

Here’s how to do it.

1. What do you truly want?

Firstly, think of what you truly want and focus on it. Let yourself be truly honest. Pay particular attention to the feelings that you want to experience from these desires.

In my case I desire meaningful romantic relationships with strong chemistry, financial security and growth and personal wellbeing. When I think of these objectives I get feelings of affection, joy, emotional balance and fulfillment.

2. How would you feel if you got what you want?

Secondly, focus on the feeling states that your objectives are geared towards. Take a look in the near past at the people, situations and environments that have generated feelings like this in you. If you need to go back a few months (or a few years) that’s fine! Do so.

Recent examples for me include a great date I went on with a young lady in London where we both laughed and had a genuinely great connection. I felt affectionate and engaged. The conversation interested me, and I was curious to learn more about her. I also felt joy at seeing my brother recently in Southeast Asia and getting to know his wife more.

Emotional balance has been something I felt enormously while spending time with Ruda in Brazil last month, and fulfillment is an emotion I feel quite a lot thanks to working in a profession I love and crossing paths with people who I can learn from and share with.

3. Take a look at the near future

Thirdly: after thinking of the near past and times it generated feelings that align with your desires, think of the near future.

What are your plans in the next week or months that will bring more of these feelings? If you say robbing a bank then I have to officially ask you to reconsider, but don’t be shy here. Be honest about the activities, people and situations that are going to spark these great emotions.

Take an objective look at your behavior and approach as well. Are there things you can change about how you act or the way you live life that will generate more of these emotions or bring them more often? Do it!

The truth about desire…

The truth about desire is that it can be a beautiful thing. It’s true that controlling our impulses and learning to channel our desire is vital if we want to live a successful life, but blaming ourself for our desires or trying to shut them down is a dead end.

So be honest about what you desire in life. Meditate on it and say it out loud even if nobody is around.

If you’re reading this then I’m going to take a guess that you’re also hoping for love, prosperity, fulfillment and balance.

We all have our own road that lets us share in these wonderful experiences, but setting out to experience them is an excellent idea.

You have desires, and that’s a good thing!

Focus in on the emotions that your desires bring you. Then pay attention to how you’re living that brings you into these emotional states.

It won’t always be sunshine and puppies. Sometimes I like to have a tense debate because it helps clarify my own values and introduces me to new viewpoints. I desire that tension of different perspectives.

The good news is it’s not hard to find a good debate these days, and I’ve learned a lot about communicating in a way that shares my perspective while also being respectful and authentic about the validity of other people’s experiences.

Stop playing with yourself

If we live always in the far future daydreaming or day-worrying about what will happen, we get lost.

Mental masturbation leads nowhere except excessive worry, exhaustion and unrealistic elation.

For example, you may get really excited about a big trip you’re planning in a year. Then, when it doesn’t happen all your dreams are crushed.

“I’ll never get what I want now,” you may say in a miserable heap.

Si Quan Ong has great insights on this:

“If you keep dreaming, imagining, and mentally masturbating to the idea of what’s going to happen…

You might never get a chance to work on your #1 priority again.”

The best way to avoid this and gain your heart’s desires is to stay in the present and remain solid and grounded.

Create an ongoing ideal that you create day-by-day with your actions and even small things that lead you to feeling the way that your desires do.

As Ruda teaches, so many of us spend far too much time and energy trapped in our mind shadowboxing ourselves.

There’s no reason to keep doing that to yourself.

Instead, step out into the light and begin letting your everyday life be the beacon that generates your desires more and more.

You can also watch the free masterclass on The Vessel on personal power which covers this in more detail.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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