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Do You Suffer From Competing Desires?

field with diverging tracks
Do you want to go in two directions at once? You would have to split yourself in two to do that.

Do You Suffer from Competing Desires?

I know I get caught in this trap easily. I have a lot of competing desires, polar opposites in fact. I want to be a monk living a simple reclusive lifestyle and I want to be a successful businessman. I want to have time for rest and balance and I want to go all out being productive. I want time and money, and I don’t want to trade one for the other.

How about you? Do you find yourself caught between opposing desires? If so, you’re probably familiar with the mind’s first attempt to solve this problem: try to do both! Yep, I’ve tried many times. Sometimes it works, but many times it does not.

And it complicates my life because my mind not only has to figure out how to do each thing, it has to figure out how to manage all of the complications that arise. This can easily lead to a feeling of overwhelm.

Which Is Where I Was This Morning

That is until I did The Work. If you’re not familiar with The Work of Byron Katie (4 Questions and Turnarounds), it’s a way to write down the stressful thoughts you’re carrying and then question them in a systematic way looking for new ways of seeing the same situation. 

So how do you do this work on competing desires? Here’s what I just did. I wrote a list of stressful thoughts free-form just to get them out of my head and onto paper. It’s looked like this:

My job is impossible.
I want to do too many competing things.
I want to do The Work for 30-60 min every day.
I want to keep writing my newsletter every week.
I want to have time to create courses.
I need to see more clients to keep the cash flow going.
I need time every day to keep up with administration.
I want to be done early to have time for yoga.
I want to have longer time available for meditation.
I want more time for sleep.
I need it to all balance perfectly.
There are not enough hours to do it all.
I don’t want to drop anything.

Just Doing That Feels Good

Somehow, getting the stressful thoughts out feels lighter. They still feel impossible, and the thoughts are still competing with each other, but now at least they are out. I don’t know how I’ll work them, but it’s easy to see them.

So I read the list a few times looking for one statement to question this morning and I landed on, “I need to see more clients to keep the cash flow going.” That indeed has been a stressful thought for the past couple of months ever since I realized that my cash flow was low. 

Working with clients is indeed a good solution to this problem, but it creates another problem. It means that time gets taken up by clients when a big part of my passion for facilitating The Work lies in designing courses and sharing The Work in other ways. 

Turning Around My Thinking

It’s not that my thinking was wrong. It is a good idea to keep time slots open for clients. That’s not going to change, but as I looked at what was stressing me, I found that I was going too far in this direction. When I saw this, I cut back a few slots and made a bit more room for other important jobs that I do. 

I could feel the relief as soon as I changed my calendar. I also saw that there could be other ways of keeping the cash flow going during this phase of building my business. And I saw more clearly how much I love to create courses and programs and content to support people in doing The Work. 

Working one-on-one is one way I do that, but the other things I offer (and plan to offer) are as valuable, if not more so, to me. Courses and other content I create are aimed a supporting people to become self-sufficient in The Work and to build an ongoing practice of it, not just do one session of The Work here and there. 

Doing just this one piece of inquiry this morning recalibrated my outlook. I’m now acting more from a place of inner alignment rather than acting out of reaction and panic.

So Try It Out

What are your conflicting desires? Write them all down. Then try questioning one or two. I’m going back to question more of mine after this. Questioning desires loosens my attachment to them. When I question conflicting desires, there is less tug-of-war inside of me.

Join us for a virtual retreat June 24-26. This is one of my favorite ways to come together to do The Work. This retreat is put on by myself and my Inquiry Circle group and it’s a great chance for you to experience the warmth, generosity, and relatability of our Inquiry Circle community.

Early bird registration for the virtual retreat closes tomorrow, May 24. (Save $50 CAD.)

Have a great week,

“The education you need is within you. How can what is already within be taught? I can only be realized. If you’re willing to go inside and wait for the truth, your inborn wisdom meets the question, and the answer rings true as if it were a tuning fork inside your own being.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Further reading: I Want to Be in Control of My Life, Is It True?

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.