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  • Writer's pictureSwannie Robert

Desires, needs and expectations

"The greatest obstacle to life is expectation, which hopes for tomorrow and neglects today.

- Seneque

Hello Birds!

How are you?

I've been meaning to come and talk to you for a while now, but since my return to Athens, I haven't had a minute to take the time!

For those of you who have been following my latest adventures, I went to Northern Greece for 3 weeks to discover this wonderful region that I didn't know before.

A trip that was both rejuvenating and inspiring, but also somewhat testing and that made me question the differences between desires, needs and expectations.

A reflection from my experience that I wanted to share with you here, on those things that drive us in our daily lives but over which we don't necessarily have control.

So what is a desire, a need or an expectation?

What is the difference between them?

How can we become aware of them in order to live our lives in a way that makes sense to us, that gives us more joy, peace and inner freedom?

At the origin of the journey I recently undertook, there was the desire to discover new places, new horizons, but also the need to get out of a routine that had become sclerotic and to find a feeling of freedom.

A visceral desire and need that pushed me to leave for an indeterminate period of time.

Like a "hunger" for something unknown, a hunger for exoticism, for novelty.

This "hunger" characterises desire quite well.

If we take the example of sexual desire, we will almost all agree that it is like a "hunger" for the other.

"I desire you", "I want you", "I am hungry for you".

We are hungry for something or someone we are trying to find.

Behind all desire, there is indeed a form of nostalgia that makes us look for something we once knew and that makes us reach for a person, an object or even a place.

In fact, desire could be compared to an outward movement driven by an extraordinary driving force and a great intensity of life.

It takes us towards the other, towards that something, pushes us to commune, to obtain... what we desire.

And what about the need?

Unlike desire, need is not connected to a particular person, object, place or even time.

It is something that is much more in the here and now, a vital necessity like the need to eat for example.

In my case, I would say that my need to regain this feeling of freedom was much stronger than my desire.

But I could just as easily have chosen to parachute, meditate in a park, go biking by the sea or whatever!

Needs are universal, common to all human beings.

What will be different from one person to another is our way of feeding our needs, that is to say our strategies, our resources.

But while I was on the road to respond to this need for freedom, it took me several days to really let myself be carried by the flow.

To be in the present moment and to let go.

This led me to question myself once again.

Why am I so tense?

What is it that makes me unable to accept what life presents to me?

Why is it so difficult for me, at this moment, to take full advantage of this journey that I have wanted to undertake for a long time?

I might as well tell you that all this tension that was growing up spoiled me for two days, if not more!

From there I realised something crucial.

Even though I was responding to a vital need, I was waiting for something.

And this expectation was preventing me from enjoying the journey.

Because here it is.

In connection with our desires and needs, we often fall into what we call our expectations.

Expectations about someone, expectations for something, expectations about life itself!

Whatever its source (desire or need), expectation usually (if not all the time) creates tension.

Because as soon as we place ourselves in expectation, we focus on the object of our expectation and it is as if nothing else exists around us!

"I am waiting for the other person to be like this, or like that, I am waiting for him/her to do this or that, I am waiting for this situation to happen..." etc, etc.

We then start to create a projected and imaginary reality (of our world) in which we imagine what would meet our desire or feed our need.

But often, if not 99 times out of 100, the reality is quite different!

The problem is that as long as what we are waiting for has not happened, we are in tension.

And the more tension we have, the less resources we have and therefore the more likely we are to literally blow a fuse.

Not to mention that the greater our desire, the greater our need, the higher our expectations and the more likely we are to be disappointed.

Ultimately what we need to understand is that when we expect something or someone it is as if we are giving power to that something or someone.

We are no longer in our power to act and we have little, if any, room to respond appropriately to our needs (or desires) in alignment with who we are.

So what's the magic bullet?

No more expectations?

Well... no.

We will always have expectations and that's ok.

What we can learn to do, however, is to look at what need behind our expectation, at any given time, is not being fed and how we can meet it.

Because we usually start to have expectations from a need that we are simply not aware of.

So instead of going crazy and waiting forever for a situation or a person, we can take a moment, connect to what's going on inside us, find the need and then see what actions we can take to feed that need.

This is really useful, if not essential, if our need of the moment includes a third person, like our partner for example.

This allows us to establish a climate of trust but above all to establish non-violent communication between the two parts in order to know, calmly, where each one stands in order to respond in the most appropriate way to this need.

So yes, this requires being aware of our needs but also knowing how to distinguish between desire and need.

And sometimes we are not always in the best position to do this (how many times have we wanted something we didn't need? and here I give you a key ;) )

Yes, we can still be disappointed when things don't work out the way we want.

If this is the case, let's be our own best friend and empathize with our disappointment.

In any case, when we succeed in being aware of our needs and in being in full possession of our personal power, we can take action and then rely on it.

In this way we free ourselves from the grip of expectation.

The tension is released. We breathe.

We let go.

Thus we reintegrate the flow of life, we reintegrate the movement.

We can then listen to our intuition better.

And live in the present moment.


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