The Fear of Unmet Desire


U2 sang about it. Oscar Wilde toyed with it. Chocolate inspires it.

And we’re all full of it

My head wants to see my name on the spine of a book in a bookstore, because it would be bloody brilliant to be a published author. My heart keeps going back to Portland, because I desire the fun and flow that I’ve experienced there many times. And the list of things my body craves would probably wrap around the Earth 4 or 5 times.

The things you want and the desires you have do strange things to you. They get your heart thumping, your blood flowing and your eyes sparkling. Sometimes they make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, just because you gotta have it, and sometimes they’re all you can think about.

Desire lays out compelling pathways in your brain; so compelling that they keep drawing your attention, screaming “Hey, if you just get this thing then everything would be totally fucking awesome!”

But the heady draw of desire casts a shadow that looms large…

And that’s the fear of what happens if your desires remain unmet.

What with you being a human being an’ all, your brain will naturally seek ways to keep you safe, always operating by it’s central organising principle:

Maximise reward, minimise danger.

If it senses that there’s risk or danger inherent to pursuing one of your desires, it will engineer fear around it—fear of change, fear of success, fear of failure—in the hope that it will prevent that pursuit.

They’re just pipe-dreams, you tell yourself. You don’t have what it takes to make something like that happen. That’s for other people.

And then, there’s the fear of trying to meet your desire and falling short.

The idea that you can try for something you really want and to still not get it is enough to break the strongest of hearts

The fear of unmet desire is a tangible force on your thinking and behaviour, fating you to a life of quiet desperation if you do what it urges.

So, enter our old friend confidence.

That trusted friend who, in the face of the overwhelming and compelling urge to maximise reward and minimise danger says,

I hear you. But it’s going to be okay. I got this.

Apply natural confidence to the fear of unmet desire, and what you create is possibility.

And maybe, that’s what we all desire the most…

  • But when you fail again and again, even though your busting you tail to make it work, whatevers left of natural confidence is ripped to pieces. With no confidence left where do we go from here? 🙁

    • Failing again and again sucks.

      But I don’t think it needs to leave natural confidence in tatters. In fact, what if natural confidence was the thing that helps you get through it?

      A string of failures hits harder and deeper than an occasional failure, as it tends to raise more doubts and have you second-guessing more of what you do and more of who you are. Natural confidence is the sense that you’re okay no matter what happens, and that you can trust yourself to make your next choice, whatever happens.

      It might not change the suckiness of it, but would that change the experience for you?

        • There are times when I’m as low and lost as the next guy. Really.

          To answer your question “Where do we go from here?”, I think there are 2 parts to it.

          1. Nourishment / consolidate / let go. This is a process of filling yourself back up with the things that nourish you and make you feel like you again. And, letting go of what doesn’t serve you.
          2. Then, it’s really a question for you. What could meaningfully moving on look like?

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