I was reminded recently of the power of desire, particularly unmet desire.
Desire is all at once a feeling of certainty and uncertainty. We become certain that we know what we want (a career or academic opportunity, a friendship, the love of another person) yet we are uncertain of the outcome of our longing because we do not have absolute control outside of ourselves.
Sometimes, when our mind and body become aware that there is something that we really want but we cannot guarantee it for ourselves, our desire becomes a burden. It shifts from a motivating, feel-good experience to blocking us from seeing or accepting what is happening. This experience reminds me of being a small child, hand and fist tightly clenched around a piece of candy or a toy, not wanting to share or give it back.
A natural reaction, when we have our heart set on something, is to tighten our grip around what we want. To push ourselves harder with self-criticism as we try and make that desire a reality. To tighten our muscles and tense up, with breath held in, as we continue waiting for that desire that has not been met.
Yet, like the cliché, If you love someone, set them free, loving ourselves means repeatedly setting ourselves free from what we are tightly clenching our fists or our hearts around. It is a learning to let go, just as soon as we latch on.
The how of freeing ourselves is harder to put into words and is often one aspect of what I do in therapy with clients. And since we are all different from one another, the how of this process for one person will not be the same for another.
What it can start with, though, is the act of acknowledging to ourselves what we have our heart set on and that we simply do not have full control over the outcome. It can begin by taking a deep breath, and with the exhale, saying aloud to yourself (in a safe and private space) what it is that you are struggling to release…recognizing that you cannot control for what happens-if it is fulfilled or if it falls away.