More than anything, the human psyche is ruled by desires and needs. Some are instinctual, rooted in you since your birth, engraved in your DNA, and tethered to your very being till the moment of your death. Some are acquired, developed throughout the years, the result of your life choices and past experiences.
The desire to live, the need to eat, the inclination toward procreation, toward the survival of the human race. If we find the basics of our primal needs in the first one, in the second, lies the promise of a life well-lived. Your quest for happiness, the financial freedom to sustain your wants and needs, or the social connection we all, even if secretly, want to share.
Then comes reality. In this context, a clash of worlds, perceptions, and wants. The world in which we live is composed of billions of individual worlds, with each their own desires and needs. So, when you go out there, it’s a constant battle.
There’s this quote that I like.
“People’s fancies do not get taken by that which is out of view.” — Anonymous
We have this image of the things we want in life. Last week you were at a party, you had one of the best times of your life. This week was tough, and you want to feel happy again, so you plan another gathering this weekend.
Saturday comes, you’re at the party, but you’re not happy. Desires are but a fleeting candle in the darkness of what lies ahead, but awareness can be your guiding light.
Your Ability To Predict Your Thoughts And Feelings Is At Best Unreliable
Socrates really was right when he said that “all I know is that I know nothing.”
We have an idea of what we want, as well as what we don’t want. But it’s only an idea, a thought of the past, a prospect, a desire born from sight and experience. Though, it does not make it less valid.
But life is moving, and as new experiences arise, desires can be either reinforced or completely turned the other way around.
I want her with dark brown hair, glimmering green eyes, and deep red lips. I want her as kind as a juniper, as brave as an oak, and as fierce as the king of birds.
Christmas eve a couple of years ago, she didn’t have green eyes, but I met her. All night I watched her moving across the floor of the bar as graciously as an eagle. All night I caught glimpses of her smile. The next evening, she sent me her first good night text.
The days went by, “okay, you’re kind, but aren’t you too kind?” Then the weeks, “okay, you’re brave, but aren’t you too brave?” Then the love, “okay, maybe this is not what I wanted.”
Our desire for happiness is sometimes so strong that we create scenarios in our heads, we imagine a life of butterflies and roses, we anticipate feelings of joy and contentment. And the more those scenarios are within reach, the more our excitation grows, so does our expectation.
Life, as well as your feelings, are affected by a myriad of outside forces. Forces you cannot control nor always predict. Yesterday, the words “hey, your head is huge” might have hurt you, but today the same words might make you smile.
This is where awareness comes. Not to remember the feelings of the past, but to ground you in the reality of the moment in the hope of a better reaction to future experiences.
Awareness Is Your Guiding Light
Let’s start with one thing, awareness does not equal foresight, but it does equal insight. It is the power to see things for what they are, for what they could be, but never for what they will be. It prepares you for the future, but it does not predict it.
It starts with understanding where you come from, your past experiences, and the choices you’ve made so far. More than remembering your feelings, you understand why the conversation you had last month was so great. You remember you had lots of things to say because it was the first time you all saw each other in a long time. You remember the go with the flow vibe and sometimes even the lighting.
You understand that every element of that night was what made it great. And you’re aware that nothing is ever the same. So, even if you cannot predict what you’re going to feel or experience, you can make the conscious effort to get close to the result you want, or even to a better one by playing with the variables — or simply by letting life be.
You’re also conscious that the night can be less joyful than it was. You are aware of the possibility, and that awareness makes you ready to deal with the expectation your heart is so burning to feel again. You are immersed in the moment but also anchored in the present.
But don’t just be aware of your feelings. Use awareness at its full potential and delve into the feelings of others. Try to understand them, bring empathy to the table. Humans are unique, but we also are branches of the same tree. We don’t experience things the same way, but we do experience the same things. Look inside of you. All the tools are there.
The person in front of you has needs, same as you, is flawed, same as you, can be anxious, happy, or merely confused, still, same as you. Look at the past experiences you had as a human being in this gigantic world. But also look at the past experiences you had with that specific human being.
And if you can’t understand them, you can always ask. Communication is the master key of all social interactions. And if that still doesn’t work, accept that you did your best, accept the feelings you’re feeling, and know that no outcome is perfect.
One more thing. I said above that awareness cannot predict your future feelings. Well, it can, in a way. You’re working tomorrow, but today you’re sad, so you drink, and you sleep late. Tomorrow comes, and you’re tired, cranky, and unproductive. Yesterday you knew what you were going to feel to some extent.
You found a serious partner, and you want to be with that person. They ask you a question about your past, but you’re afraid of the answer, so you lie. Weeks later, the truth gets out, and with it, all hope for any relationship. You knew what you were putting yourself into.
Your past actions can affect your future feelings, but it’s not about prediction. It is a continuation, a link we can fix by being aware of the present.
Never Let The Future Disturb You
We cannot predict the future, but by being conscious of both our present and our past, we can arm ourselves with the necessary tools to deal with the things life throws at us. It is a constant battle, desire versus reality, a battle where awareness, self-love, and empathy need to be side by side.
And remember that as good as awareness is, it also comes with a cost. To be aware of every feeling we feel is a daunting task, one that leads to anxiety, overthinking, and depression. Some feelings are not that important, and it comes a moment where you should stop digging.
It’s not always about the red pill. Sometimes you have to take the blue one and distract yourself a bit to recharge your batteries.
I’ll leave you with a quote from an old scholar:
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
— Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Sandra Anne Taylor, (2009), 28 Days to a More Magnetic Life, Hay House.