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Attachment to desire: the path to dissatisfaction

Attachment to desire: the path to dissatisfaction

May 2, 2024

I believe that human beings are in a constant search for freedom, peace and inner happiness, whether we are aware of it or not. However, it is not a secret, that we usually look outside for the realization of these desires.

A) Yes, we embark on the incessant search for pleasure and in moving away from pain , but the only thing that does this is to cause us more suffering. We are obsessed with success, beauty, money, power, consumption, pleasant experiences, approval and prestige, among many others, that blind us to the reality that they are not lasting things, nor can they make us truly happy

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Holding on to wishes results in dissatisfaction

The clinging to these things leaves us as Buddhist meditation teacher Sogyal Rinpoche says "as people who crawl through an endless desert, dying of thirst" because what our modern society offers us to drink, by what it teaches us that it is important to pursue, and what we choose to also drink, is a glass of salt water that makes our thirst even more intense. We want more and more of those objects, situations, experiences or people to whom we attribute the power to make us happy and along the way we not only remain thirsty and lost, but we can also seriously harm those around us.


Just think about the excessive ambition of some public figures and political leaders and how this ambition takes the resources that are destined to generate well-being in the people who have the mission to serve, leaving, instead, great poverty, hunger, violence and pain. Attachment to desires makes us selfish, it only makes us think about our well-being. However, it is not a wise way to achieve it, because the clinging to desire never leaves satisfied nor is it the way to feel fullness.

Another example is the unhealthy attachment to a couple. The desire to connect, to love and feel loved, becomes with clinging, in a desire to possess and control the other, as if it were possible to never leave or never change their feelings. As this does not happen, deposit happiness again in a person leaves who does it constantly dissatisfied , because the expectations it places on the other are not realistic.


It is likely that on several occasions we have said or thought that we will be happy when we finally travel, have the house, the car, the achievement or the desired person, and then discover that, although these things do bring us joy for a while, we do not They give us the lasting peace and happiness that we seek and that, as is to be expected, new desires arise again.

Does this mean that we would be better off if we eliminated the desire of our lives?

The two types of wishes

Jack Kornfield, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher explains from the perspective of Buddhist philosophy that there are healthy and unhealthy wishes . These arise from a neutral state of mind called the will to do. When the will to do is directed in a healthy way, it provokes healthy desires. When it is directed in an unhealthy way, it causes unhealthy desires.

We may want something for different reasons. People may wish to help others out of authentic compassion and generosity or seeking admiration. They may want to create some technology to destroy or contribute to development and health. Attachment operates in subtle ways Even in things that seem harmless or good and often in desires there are intermingled motivations. We may want to travel because of the desire to know and broaden our vision of the world and diversity, or not to be left behind, to show every detail in social networks, or to escape from problems.


Kornfield explains that healthy desire creates happiness, is based on wisdom, kindness and compassion and results in interest, responsible management, generosity, flexibility, integrity and spiritual growth. Unhealthy desire creates suffering, is based on greed and ignorance and results in possession, egocentricity, fear, greed, compulsion and dissatisfaction. Inner freedom arises from the ability not to cling to desire. This is different from getting rid of it.

It's about learning to relate wisely to desire . Not to obsess with the fulfillment of what we want or to stop enjoying life without these things are not present. This implies an open and relaxed attitude towards desires. We can let go and reflect calmly on them and see what drives them or if we really need to carry them out. If we decide to carry them out, we do it with awareness.

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Towards a form of addiction

Buddhist philosophy describes this state as a hungry spirit whose desire is insatiable and therefore suffers a lot, because Nothing manages to satisfy it .

As Mason-John & Groves put it, "in a certain sense, we can all identify with the hungry ghosts, because we live in a culture where nothing is enough ... We want to live in a bigger place, we want to have a better job, more vacations, the latest technological innovation, the most recent of all. Even when we do not define ourselves as addicts, there are many of us who use acceptable drugs, such as food, social toast, medicines, sex, shopping, friendships, etc., to overcome the emptiness of our lives. "

Work with desire and pain

Therefore, it is necessary to transform the relationship we have with desire and also with pain, since the inability to be with the inevitable pain of life leads us to take refuge in unhealthy desires that paradoxically end up producing more suffering. It is important to encourage healthy desires and get rid of those who enslave us. For this, we can use mindfulness to our mental states when desire arises and observe with kindness how we feel when present and how we feel when we cling to it. In this way we begin to discern the healthy desires of those who are not. Equally, we can go recognizing how we use desires to escape from the uncomfortable and if it is our usual way of reacting .


Kornfield expresses that we must investigate desire and be willing to work with it to recover our innate freedom and balance. Work with desires will depend on whether we tend to suppress or desire excessively. It is about not resisting or clinging to desires when they arise, but accepting them kindly and observing their natural course without necessarily acting on them.

This practice helps us relate in a more compassionate and kind way with our inner experience , which in turn helps us to better regulate our emotions and to act with greater awareness. Let's realize that thoughts, as well as desire and painful emotions come and go, are not permanent as we believe in those moments when they arise. We subtract power from unhealthy desires when we do not act on them, despite their intensity. Then they stop governing us.


Instead of running away from pain, we face it with compassion and without judgment , allowing him to be and dissolve by himself. We stop identifying with what happens to us and with our internal experiences. We recognize that crucial moment, in which, by pausing, we can realize that we have a choice and can respond more consciously to the situations that life presents to us, without causing secondary suffering.

Finally, Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, mentions that we long to discover our true nature, and that behind our countless desires there is a spiritual longing, but because our desires tend to be fixed and fixed on things that are transitory, we feel separated about who we are When we feel distanced from our own reality, we identify with our desires and the ways of satisfying them , which sets us apart even more. It is when we cultivate a calm mind, that we can be aware of our deepest longings, listen to them and respond to them. As they say well there "Invests in what a shipwreck can not snatch".


Bibliographic references:

  • Kornfield, J. (2010). The Wisdom of the Heart A guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology. Barcelona, ​​Spain: The March Hare.
  • Mason-John, V. & Groves P. (2015). Mindfulness and Addictions. Recovery in eight steps. Spain: Editorial Siglantana.
  • Rinpoche S. (2015). The Tibetan book of life and death. 20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. Barcelona, ​​Spain: Urano Editions.
  • Brach, T. (2003). Radical Acceptance. Madrid, Spain: Gaia Editions.

How Do I Deal With Unfulfilled Expectations? | Sadhguru (May 2024).


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