The Underpinnings of Desire

From the orientation of the creative, the core motive behind desire is the following- “because I want to.”

Creating is in and of itself a valid motivation for our desires. But for most of us, the answer “because I want to” is a foreign concept and the motivations behind almost everything we desire comes with an incredible price tag.

Underneath every desire outside of the creative orientation is the hope to resolve one or more of the following three things: to be loved, to feel safe, and/or to belong.

Let’s look at something like “success”.

When asking most people what success means to them specifically, the answer is always nebulous. It’s this thing that they will sacrifice so much to achieve yet they don’t even know what success looks like when they get there. That’s like opting to run an ultra marathon without knowing at what distance the race will end.

This is because success isn’t a quantifiable experience, it’s a feeling. And underneath that feeling is the desire for love, safety, and/or belonging.

For example, they might say success means having a certain amount of money in the bank. So I’ll ask, “At what point will you wake up and say to yourself, I’m a success? $10 million? $20 million? $100 million in the bank?” Almost always, they quickly realize that none of these amounts of money will actually achieve the feeling of success they desire.

This feeling is a resolution of a void they feel around their experience of love, safety, or belonging.

They want to be successful so that they’ll prove that they’re “lovable” to their parents 30 or 40 years in the past. They want to be successful so that they can feel safe. Or they want to be successful so that they can prove they’re not an outcast and in fact belong.

The inherent trap of these core desires is that they operate as an infinite loop, like saying “this statement is false.” It’s a fallacy that can never resolve itself because there is no quantifiable amount of success that can fill a void that doesn’t exist.

Name a newborn that is not born with and does not deserve love, belonging, or safety. Pick one anywhere in the world? It’s impossible.

We’re all born with these intrinsic rights as human beings. Somewhere along the way, they get distorted and we find ourselves as adults desiring experiences to resolve the void we feel because of it.

But just as you can’t fill a cup that is already full, no amount of success for example can fill the void of these core desires because they’re already full.

This applies to every other desire that is underpinned by one of these emotional needs.

Pay attention to the true motivations for your desires. “Because I want to” is a perfectly valid reason to desire something and it’s useful because it operates outside of the bounds of our distorted emotional needs. The lack of charge then allows for moving toward our desires with more ease.

Imagine two children learning to walk. They set their sites on walking to the end of the hallway. The first child believes that when they get to the end of the hallway, they will be loved. The second child just thinks it would be cool.

After their inevitable first fall to the ground, which child will be devastated by the fall as it’s a reminder that they are not yet loved? And which child brushes themselves off, shrugs, and keeps going?

The Hero Fallacy

You cannot have a hero without a victim. 

When is Superman allowed to take a day off? How does he decide who to save and who to let die? Does he have any choice in his  life?

The structure of a hero is the same as the structure of a victim. Both are bound by their circumstance without choice over their experience.

It’s like +1 and -1… they’re both the same in the opposite. 

In attempts to change the world, we seek heroes to solve our problems. But every time we create a new hero, in order to maintain the identity of that hero, there must continue to be a victim. It’s a self perpetuating problem.

To me, the appropriate concept of hero is to define it not as a noun, but rather as a verb. Everyone has the capacity to be heroic without having to give up their choice.

Heroism presupposes there is choice within the experience. Heroes are defined by their saving of victims. Heroism is situational and reduces victims. Heroes require that there continue to be more.

What if we stopped seeking heroes and started promoting heroism. Heroism is something anyone can do, regardless of their identity.