I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (From the Wrong Places)

Sometimes – no – often, I find myself working with a client who has a 100% pure impulse towards something good they want or need. It could be anything – art, beauty, intimacy, skill, authority. Anything. 

But no matter how hard they try, they can’t ever quite satisfy it. At least, not until we’ve done some work on finding the approach that is right for them. 

In this brief article I’m going to talk about the way we take those pure, healthy instincts and even with very good intentions, utterly fail to satisfy them.

And this is such a common human error that you could almost say it’s a part of being human. So it’s definitely not something to beat yourself up for, we all do it. 

Let’s use an example. Let’s say a man called Henry has been missing something in his life. It’s a kind of emptiness. He tries the gym, socialising, meditating, experiencing more culture. But although these things are all rewarding in their own way – none of them get to that deeper ache he’s experiencing. He even thinks about changing career, but before taking such a drastic step he decides to try figure out what his need is.

By looking more deeply at the emotion at the core of his uneasiness, he realises that it’s actually emotional intimacy he has been craving. It’s something he’s avoided in the past as it has been too painful and he has successfully distracted himself up to now with work and other activities. But on a deep, soul-level, he knows that’s what he truly wants. 

He’s done something that we all do. We use the things we’re familiar with to try and meet our desires and needs. After all, they’ve worked for us in the past, why wouldn’t they work again?

We don’t only do this out of habit though. We’re often unconsciously trying to silence needs that want us to grow. Perhaps we don’t want to lose our sense of safety or control, or to change the status-quo. So we do the things we already know haven’t resulted in that growth. We get to tell ourselves we’re trying something, while never risking change and vulnerability. 

And other times, we just don’t know any better. Why? 

Because we don’t know what we’re truly craving. 

Let’s try a simple exercise, one which may help you to uncover what you want right now. You’ll need a pen and paper preferably, but a device is ok too. I’m going to list a series of prompts, you just need to write the answers that come to mind naturally, without judgement. You take your first answer and use each subsequent prompt to go deeper. So you stick with the same emotion and go deeper with it, but bear in mind the topics that come up may vary wildly and even seem unrelated. Just trust the process and let go of judgement. 

Also, each desire may need a different number of prompts, so if you need to go for longer (and you can go as long as feels right to you), just keep alternating prompt #5 and 6 until you’re done. 

One at a time, write down these prompts and the words that come to mind right away: 

  1. What I want right now is: 
  2. And underneath that I truly want: 
  3. And even more deeply beneath that I want: 
  4. And below that I want: 
  5. And under that: 
  6. And beneath that: 

How was that for you? Your final answer may have surprised you. Here’s an optional bonus exercise. 

I recommend closing your eyes and putting your hands on your heart before saying to yourself: 

I trust that I want or need this.

Take a moment to be with that knowing, and take a couple of relaxing breaths. 

And now ask yourself any of these questions that feel right, with an open mind: 

Based on who I am deep down, how should I move towards that? 

What would that look like in my life? 

Based on my deepest self, what is a first step I can take towards this?

I hope you got some value out of exploring how to meet your deepest desires in a meaningful way. I think it’s interesting that knowing what our needs are can be just as fulfilling as meeting them sometimes, because they tell us so much about who we are. 

And growing that deep connection with ourselves is where true satisfaction begins and ends. 

Take care of yourself and I hope you find the satisfaction that is right for you!