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Unlocking the mystery of the “wanting mind”: Transform your yearnings into fulfillment

I remember Christmas Eve as a child. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to be awake every second until the morning came. I didn’t want to miss anything! But inevitably, I’d arrive at the Christmas tree the next morning, bleary-eyed and still feeling like I’d missed something important. My wanting mind had taken over and robbed me of being fully awake when it counted. And every year, I’d repeat the same pattern.

This “wanting mind” is still familiar to me as an adult.

How about you? What are you yearning for? What keeps you up at night?

The wanting mind is that embodied yearning for some outcome you deeply desire. Of course, you want to write that book! Of course, you want to land that job! Of course, you want to find an intimate partner!

But the more you feel you don’t have control over the things you want, the more they feel out of reach. And that’s when your mind goes to more wanting, longing, rehearsing, yearning …

Wanting mind can sound like, “If only I were seen for who I am, then I’d feel more confident.” “If only I’d get that position, then I’d feel important.” “I could feel peace of mind if only this hadn’t happened to me …”

These beliefs rest on the fallacy that the delicious feeling of deep satisfaction that everyone wants is somewhere “out there.” Worse, it feels perpetually unreachable because it’s always just a little further ahead of where you are right now – no matter what you do. This is what the wanting mind does. Its job is not to deal with reality but to create a picture of something we think is better. So we keep looking out for that missing piece, the one that will make everything feel okay. Wanting mind supposes that “enough” couldn’t possibly already be here.

Wanting mind is tricky, too. It subtly and compellingly creates a narrative that our deepest satisfaction can only be answered by someone else, some other job, some other food, some other reality. And so the story goes. If reality is not enough, we are not enough.

Thankfully, we are always enough no matter who we are. Always.

How to satisfy your wanting mind:

Know what’s keeping you in wanting mind.

Ask yourself:

  • “What do I notice in my body when I focus on what I don’t have?”
  • “What am I believing about the present moment?”
  • “What am I believing about my capacity to tolerate the present moment?”
  • “In what way may I be numbing or distracting myself from the present moment?”

Honor the wisdom in your wanting mind.

Ask yourself:

  • “What am I yearning for?”
  • “What is my wanting mind telling me to find/create for myself?”
  • “What’s one step in that direction I’m ready to take?”
  • “What will help me remember to let go of the rest, again and again as needed?”

Know what keeps you in reality.

Ask yourself:

  • “How will I remember to practice gratitude at odd moments during the day – for anything?”
  • “What do I need to build my tolerance for the present moment – however it is?”
  • “What is my intention for being deeply self-compassionate for whatever I’m feeling or thinking?”
  • “What conscious actions do I want to take to feed my sense of agency?”

All these questions are meant for you. Create time and inner space to explore all of this. You deserve it.

Lynda Hoffman is a life coach.

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