“I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things,” a friend said. “I stood in front of the condiments section, staring at the pickles and olives. What I really wanted was the olives. What I bought was pickles. It wasn’t about the cost,” he said. “It was about deliberately depriving myself of what I want.”
Sometimes things happen in life. We’ve talked about that before. We start out with good intentions about what we want: a family, health, a modicum of success in our career. Then something unforeseen rips it away. Maybe our family life as a child was destroyed when someone in the family got sick or died. Maybe this happened later in life—when we were betrayed by a spouse.
We may not be able to have everything we want in life. And we may sometimes get things we thought we wanted, then change our mind. But we still don’t have to torture ourselves by telling ourselves that we can’t have what we want.
What do you want? Do you know? Or have you shut that part of yourself down? Yes, we all have times of discipline. And there’s much to be learned by denying ourselves, at certain times, of certain pleasures. It’s not good to want something or someone so much that desire runs and rules our lives. And sometimes wanting what we can’t have can make life more interesting.
But it’s okay to open our hearts to ourselves and be clear about what we want in our small and larger choices. Learn to master desire.
Open you heart to what you want. Then say it. Pickles or olives, which will it be?
God, teach me to master my desires. Grant me the wisdom to know when something needs to be off-limits for me, and when I am unnecessarily depriving myself of the pleasures and joys here on earth.
From the book: More Language of Letting Go
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