Like millions and millions of other people, I devoured Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, when it was released in 2003. In fact, I voraciously took in the whole spellbinding story in a single sitting on a cold and snowy January night, stopping only to freshen my tea between chapters.
The intrigue and the plot twists had me riveted, and I seriously couldn’t put it down! However, it’s not so much the marathon session that makes that evening so memorable, but rather one short sentence that stopped me dead in my tracks and still gives me goose bumps even now. It read:
“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”
While I’m not usually one for dramatic effect, I honestly had a full-body response as I read these words for the first time. As I went on to repeat them slowly aloud, I recall the intense experience of having profound clarity come crashing down on me. Wholly shift!
SO. MUCH. TRUTH.
While it may not have appeared as such to those looking in from the outside, it became immediately clear to me that there’d been many decisions throughout my life that had entirely come from a place of fear to varying degrees.
From being scared of other people's opinions, to worrying about the future unknown, to being completely paralyzed by the prospect of my own power - I realized the numerous occasions where fear had definitely been driving, while desire had rarely, if ever, even made an appearance in the back seat.
It was a serious revelation at the time and one that ultimately ignited my decade-long love affair with the concept of desire. However, I didn’t connect all of the dots until many years later when I learned how this wisdom could be strategized in very important ways.
Enter in Danielle LaPorte and The Desire Map.
THE STRATEGY OF DESIRE
The Desire Map is the seminal work of one of my most treasured teachers, Danielle LaPorte. In discovering this beloved book a couple of years ago, I was able to completely revolutionize my relationship with desire, along with the critical role it plays in my life. It was the piece of the puzzle that had been missing for so many years!
As Danielle tells us, desire brings light to darkness and is truly the foundation of our will to live. She explains, “When you cease to desire, you cease to live.”
The Desire Map offered me a step-by-step roadmap for bringing my truest wishes to the surface and taught me how to use this powerful awareness to make more enlightened choices in love, work, service, and play. It encouraged me to re-examine my procedures for achievement, attainment and goal setting, while also giving me invaluable insights into leveraging my desires as a formidable force for more empowerment, freedom and joy.
In a previous article, I explain some of this in greater detail and outline the myriad of ways in which it has completely transformed the way I engage in my life and business.
THE DAUNTING DANCE OF DESIRE
Interestingly, very few people can clearly and confidently articulate their desires. Many of my private clients and workshop attendees have told me that they’ve experienced a lot of resistance and difficulty in trying to determine and declare exactly what it is that they truly, truly want.
Sometimes the challenge is grounded in a fear of judgment, where in other cases, it’s the absence of clarity. Usually, it’s some combination of both; overcoming our cultural conditioning to be humble and accommodating is not easy, and neither is getting to the root of what it is that we long for the most.
In the wise words of Nelson Mandela:
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”
This is not work for the faint of heart and definitely requires some major soul searching. Typically I take women through the process over a weekend intensive or a 12-week period, but here are a few ways that you can start leaning into your desires immediately:
Start with a gratitude list.
As Melodie Beattie reminds us, "Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Blessing counting is ALWAYS the best place to start.
Examine what’s not working.
There are diamonds of truth to be mined when you dig around in the messier parts of your life. To get to the heart of what you do want, you’ll need to get brutally raw and real about your deal-breakers and no thank-you’s.
If you want ease and peace in your days, you can’t fill up your dance card with endless commitments. If you desire respect and appreciation, you may need to let go of those relationships that no longer nourish and serve you. If it’s simplicity and beauty you’re after, a major purge of your closets, cupboards, and other spaces may be in order.
Let go of the need for approval from others.
Want what you want with every ounce of your mighty heart. That might be a thriving 7-figure business and the jet-setting perks that come along with it, or maybe it’s a relatively mindless job that offers you lots of breathing room and bandwidth to sing, dance, paint or otherwise create.
Perhaps you have your sights set on speaking in front of thousands of people in a stadium setting or maybe you’re just dying for more solitary time in your garden.
As long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, prioritize your passions and pursue them relentlessly.
Be prepared to go much, much deeper.
You need to ask yourself why you want what you want. More specifically, there's always a sought-after feeling driving every accomplishment or attainment we seek.
For example, we don’t want 6-pack abs for the sake of a washboard stomach alone. Instead, we’re after a need to feel strong, healthy, sexy or vital. Likewise, we don’t want an overflowing bank account just to count the dollar bills all day long, but rather we’re longing for security, success, abundance, or affluence.
When you know how you want to feel, you can design your life, career, and relationships in support of generating those feelings over and over again.
RETHINKING STATUS & THE ESSENCE OF REAL POWER
As the poet Rumi once said, “When you know your real status, no longer would you covet or borrow in any manner. All will even line up to pay you interest, envy thee, if you wish.”
Knowing your “real status” is about embracing your intrinsic worthiness as a beautiful and unique being on this planet; it’s a matter of honouring the callings and longings that are yours, and yours alone, and then actively creating your life in accordance with these.
When we can stand tall in our authenticity, answer to our deepest desires, and live in a way that’s in alignment with our truest song, lack and scarcity tend to scatter in the wind. We gradually begin to unhook from competition and comparison. Instead we become free to firmly attach ourselves to the values of courage, connection, compassion, and celebration, which are the cornerstones of feminine leadership.
As we are liberated from the expectations and preferences of others, it becomes increasingly easy to walk through the world with more grace, joy, and gratitude. At the same time, this freedom infuses you with the energy and ability to lead and serve from a place that is far more genuine, generous, and impactful.
Real power comes from our conscious capacity to make wholehearted choices that are reflective of who we really are at our core. We often dilute that power when we're constantly, and often very unconsciously, rising up to meet the demands of someone else.
Of course, there’ll be lots of times when our choices will include accommodating others in loving and important ways, but we need to check in with ourselves to ensure that these decisions are honest expressions of our autonomy and desires, rather than a default response to imposition or expectation.
Far from being self-centered, this is an incredibly soul-centered and thoughtful approach to living and leading.
However, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” In making the divine and decisive commitment to align your intentions and actions with your wants, wishes, and needs, you’re ultimately contracting with the universe to fiercely respect the same from and for others.
Similarly, being deliberate with your desires is the pinnacle of self-reliance. If you are routinely depending on others or manipulating situations to achieve certain outcomes and generate the experiences you wish to have, you’re likely missing the mark by a mile.
In my own journey, there’ve been stops, starts, and setbacks as I’ve wrestled with fear and desire over the past decade. However it’s been the choices where desire boldly triumphed that have been the most meaningful and monumental of all.