Desire is Not a Four-Letter Word
I love Nicholas Sparks’ novel The Notebook (and also the movie). It’s a classic love story trope about a young couple torn apart by their families and their different social class standings.
My favorite scene in the movie version is when Noah (played by Ryan Gosling) tries to stop Allie (played by Rachel McAdams) from leaving him to return to her rich fiancé. Noah knows that money is the only thing keeping them apart. He points this out to Allie but she denies it. Noah continues to tell Allie what he wants—a future with her. He tells her it won’t be easy, it will be hard work (because they will hold each other accountable and point out when the other is being an ass). He voices his desire to have “all of her forever, every day.”
Then he asks Allie what she wants. She can’t answer because her wants are deeply buried underneath everyone else’s, and she’s too afraid of hurting somebody in the process of claiming her own desires.
Noah encourages her to stop worrying about what her fiancé and her parents want, even about what he wants. He encourages her to listen to her own desire.
What do you want?
What about you? Do you know what you want? Do you really know in any given moment, on any given day, what you desire?
This could mean big, life-changing desires – like whether or not to choose the guy or girl, or the career, to do what you want or the thing your parents – and society—approve of.
Or this could mean small, life changing desires that add up over time, like whether to take a nap before dinner, or to show up for your physical fitness routine day after day, or to allow yourself to feel your emotions and express them, or even to just listen to your body and and know when it wants —needs —a glass of water … a bathroom break … to be held.
Very rarely do we listen to our bodies, especially if what they tell us is counter to what we think we should be doing. We push ourselves to go go go, to get things done and mark off the items on our to-do list. We take pride in being “good,” “nice,” and of service to others.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to help others or to push ourselves to accomplish tasks, but sometimes the scales are so heavily weighted on the side of helping and accomplishing that we don’t have time for the things we need in order to thrive. Or worse, we don’t believe we are thriving unless we are pushing ourselves to extremes, or sacrificing ourselves on the altar of everyone else’s needs.
One of the pathways to inner abundance is through creating a healthy, loving, and thriving relationship with ourselves.
Have you ever asked for input on dinner but no one suggested anything?
Or maybe you asked a loved one or friend what they wanted to eat or what restaurant they wanted to go to and they responded with, “I don’t care.” Yet when you made a food selection or suggestion, they knew very well that they didn’t want that.
I don’t care where we go. Oh, not there. How about ______?
I admit that I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. Sometimes it’s easier to voice what we don’t want than it is to voice what we do, and that’s okay if that is where we need to start to begin figuring out what we want. It’s about tuning in, listening to our bodies and emotions, building awareness around our thoughts and desires.
Grace, compassion—self-love – means tuning in and listening to your body’s cues, your thoughts, your feelings, and your heart’s desires.
Taking time to tune into our thoughts, feelings, patterns of behavior, needs, wants and desires, and even our aversions to the things we dislike, can feel like a big selfish risk. What if it means disappointing someone else, letting someone else down, saying no when they want us to say yes?
I love The Notebook because it is a timeless story of undying love, but it also resonates with me because, like Allie, being liked and accepted by others has always taken precedence over using my no or letting my true voice be heard.
Which is exactly why I’m writing this post: to tell you, to tell myself, that it is okay to tune into our own needs. To make space in our day for those dreams that set our souls on fire. That it’s okay not to answer the text, or the phone call, or the doorbell. To say, “Excuse me for one minute” and take the time to pour ourselves a tall glass of water, or to go pee.
And to tell others—especially those closest to us— what we really need, want, and desire. Even if it is contrary to what they need, want, and desire.
Desire is not a four-letter word. It is your right to receive and own pleasure.
We were created with needs and desires and they serve a certain purpose—our purpose. The thing that only we can do. The thing that only we were meant to do. Which means we have to tune in. We have to listen to that still small voice, and the voice that gets louder and louder until we finally say, “What do you want?”
Grace is understanding ourselves on a deeper level and not judging ourselves for having needs, emotions, and desires.
Grace is honoring those needs, emotions, and desires.
Grace is taking responsibility to get to know ourselves and making decisions for ourselves. Decisions that may not coincide with the desires, wants, or needs of others, but are the best decisions for the person we are trying to become, and the life we are trying to create.
Your approval of yourself is more important than the approval of anyone else. Start tuning into your body’s sensations (the tightness in your neck and shoulders, your dry mouth), and into your thoughts and feelings (they only call me when they want something, they always interrupt, I’m tired, angry, sad. I really want this job, relationship, trip.). Start allowing yourself the gift of listening—to yourself.
You might be surprised by what your body, thoughts, and emotions can show you.
Here’s the link to Ryan Gosling asking Rachel McAdams, “What do you want?”
Have you missed a post in the Abundance Series? Here are the posts thus far: