Eliminate Desire

by Rachel Miller

March 11, 2022

ABOVE : Kadyn Pierce

It’s interesting how we become tied to our cravings and desires like they are necessary things. It’s like they are a signal that tells us we will be happier if we have this thing. But, what if the pleasure doesn’t really exist in the first place? What if it’s the idea of pleasure, the hope for reward that we are really after? And what if, knowing that this thing will not really satisfy us, we could choose something else instead? Something that would provide more reward, but at less cost and consequence?

Try an Experiment:

  • When you feel a desire for some material thing, consider choosing to not want this thing. Feel the internal protest arise and notice the internal outrage at the audacity of such a decision—why not?! It’s not bad!!—and just for now, just for this one time, stick it out as an experiment to see what happens.

    • Recall a time when you wanted something, but didn’t fulfill it. In the moment it was hard, but a little while later you realized it didn’t change anything. You didn’t regret not having that bag of chips, buying that jacket. In the moment of decision, it feels painful, like you are preventing joy from happening, but the moments that follow, you don’t care anymore. You don’t care because you didn’t miss out on anything. It wasn’t a source of joy or fulfillment in the first place.
    • Recall that it doesn’t matter if something is “good” or “bad,” but if it’s fulfilling. This isn’t about denying desire, but choosing an alternate desire that will provide the greatest gain. It’s about doing what will make you most satisfied. Your perception is that you preventing yourself from experiencing joy by choosing an alternate desire, but you’re not. You are effectively fulfilling your needs. You are providing ultimate satisfaction instead.

  • Choose to want something else. Consider what reward you were seeking from that initial desire: sensory gain, stimulation, fun? Consider other options. What else will provide reward and satisfaction?

  • Once you’ve made your choice, expect the internal protests, the resistance, to arise: Don’t be so hard on yourself! Why are you being so strict—it’s not a bad thing! You deserve it! This is normal. It always feels this way. Painful. It feels limiting, unnatural–like you are taking joy away, even if you are not. Expect it each time you choose an alternate desire than the immediate one. And remind yourself: this feeling, this discomfort, is temporary. In 15 minutes or so, you will feel better. You’ll want something else. You’ll be grateful to your present self for making this decision and sticking it through. Then, focus all your attention and energy on fulfilling that alternate desire instead.

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