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“Desire that is fully embraced always leads to a beneficial outcome. It is after all a pure life energy within us.” ~ Richard Rudd
During the years 2010 to 2012, I was a managing partner in a yoga studio. My partner was my yoga teacher, whom I adored.
When I entered the partnership, the studio was silent and mostly empty. There were few classes on the schedule and few students in each class.
I had just left a successful career as an information systems manager in a big tech company where I acquired management experience and a good sense for business.
As soon as I stepped into my new position, I brought the studio to life. As part of my studio revival plan, I scheduled a photoshoot session, to reflect the new spirit of the studio in our new marketing materials.
My business partner hated marketing, and even more so, hated modeling for marketing purposes. I, on the other hand, was thrilled to star in the photoshoot.
For one, it was something I hadn’t done in my previous jobs. Secondly, I love modeling and had a little taste of it when I was younger. And most importantly, I was proud of being a yoga studio co-owner and doing something great for our community. I perceived the photoshoot as something which served a great purpose.
My partner noticed my eagerness and presented his disapproval of me. He thought that my wanting to be center stage was arrogant and egocentric.
I could not blame him. I myself felt ashamed about wanting to shine. We both grew up in a culture that glorified modesty. A desire to shine certainly did not fit the role model of a yoga teacher, who, as we both perceived it, was expected to not act out of her ego.
I wanted my partner to approve of me, so I stepped back. During the photoshoots, I made an extra effort to not stand out. I took the role of one of the students, and was barely photographed as a teacher or a partner.
Making myself small, only made things worse. It built up frustration and resentment in me. Instead of talking things out and resolving the core of the problem with my partner, I looked for every opportunity where I could shine without his interference. He sensed my inauthenticity and could not trust me anymore.
Our partnership turned into a war zone, until we both realized we had to end it.
Many of us feel guilty for wanting things for our ego, like success, fame, being in the spotlight, being center stage, looking good and shining.
When we think that something we want is not appropriate, it makes us unkind to ourselves and takes us away from a life of well-being and fulfillment. We become inauthentic with ourselves and with others, just like what happened to me in my yoga partnership.
Rebecca had a somewhat similar story. She came to consult with me because she felt stuck.
She was talented, capable, and creative. She was disciplined and worked hard. With that, she did not manage to translate all her talents and hard work into a successful career.
During our session, we realized that she did not believe wanting to succeed was appropriate. She came from a religious family, where she was taught to be modest and humble. According to her family’s worldview, wanting to succeed was arrogant, egocentric, and vain.
While Rebecca was frustrated with her inability to succeed, when I asked her to say the mantra, I am here to succeed, she could not say it. Her subconscious shame and guilt around her true desire surfaced. She felt bad about wanting success.
While some of us deny our wants due to feelings of shame or guilt, some of us do it due to disappointment.
We wanted something for too long, it did not happen, so we started believing it never will. We then adjusted our desires to match our expectations. We decided to stop wanting, but it is really not our choice to make. The heart desire stayed there, buried deep inside us.
For years, I declared that I did not want children. With that, every time I went to a card reader or an astrologer, the first thing I would ask was, will I ever have children?
In fact, I wanted children so badly that the thought of not having them was unbearable. I preferred to adjust my desires to avoid the pain of disappointment.
It is truly painful to want something and not get it. This is part of the human condition, and we must connect with the pain. But if we initially give up just to avoid the pain we might endure in case of disappointment, we also minimize our chances to fulfill our heart’s desires.
Whenever we feel stuck in life, wanting something and feeling unable to obtain it, we should ask ourselves if we are true to ourselves and others about what we want. It might be that we don’t really want what we claim we do, while we want something else and are afraid to admit it.
We should also check with ourselves if we are able to stand behind our desires and state them loud and clear. If we can’t, we can bring our awareness to our inability to do so and work with what stands behind it.
*This piece is from Yael’s upcoming book, Planetary Balance for a Wholesome Life.