Desire and Desperation; The Guiding Forces of Choice

As the Covid pandemic drags out many people I know are talking about how much they miss traveling. Some are taking road trips. Which, for Americans, is our unique historic symbol of the search for freedom of the soul. There is something about a long drive in the quiet of the open road that calms the nerves, allows self reflection and gives perspective on life’s dramas.

It is in the freedom of the open road where we feel both our journey toward the soul and our souls journey toward us. Indeed our life’s journey is a road going in two directions, our longing for meaning. And connection to the spiritual world and the spiritual worlds’ longing to live through us.

On the allegorical road trip which is your personal journey, your life is the vehicle, you the driver and the choices you make on your journey, the GPS system navigating you toward your spiritual fulfillment. Choice is your GPS but what sparks the choices we make? What are the forces of choice? What motivates us to act?

forces of choice

There are two forces of choice.

There are two forces of choice; desire and desperation; two programs already in the GPS at birth. Both propel us into action yet they are as opposite as yes and no. Desire is the spirits’ messaging system giving instructions to your heart while desperation is the lack of connection to the messages of spirit. We could say both revolve around what we want but desire is positive and desperation is negative.

The choices you make as to how you perceive and engage these two similar but different states is what gives you power to determine where you will end up. The choice you have regarding your desire is whether or not you will listen and follow it. Desire is the voice of spirit, it is your choice to listen or not. A life without desire is a life without purpose and joy.

The choices offered when desperation arises while also about listening and following, is about learning the appropriate way to care for it. Actions that come from desperation in many ways is the more transformational force in your life because it can literally lead you to the wrong life. Or if you can learn how to harness this energy it can give you the opportunity to acquire the skills to make your life a meaningful journey

we need both.

Sometimes we dream that life is as simple as desiring something, going out and getting it, then relaxing at the beach with a Pina Colada in hand having “made it”, yet it is in the overcoming of obstacles while staying true to your desire that makes life a spiritual journey. Have you ever watched a movie where the lead character had no obstacles or conflict and came away feeling moved by it? What we are moved by is how we deal with adversity; how we overcome hunger, lack, scarcity and desperation.

While desire is your innate programming that will seek depth, meaning and purpose, desperation and scarcity assures that by encountering obstacles and failure you can learn about how to get back to spirit. In other words, your goals require obstacles that you can learn from in order to be a meaningful goal. Our life gains meaning from the relationship to these struggles just like in the movies.

What is desire?

Desire is the voice of spirit pointing you toward one thing: your total fulfillment.

Allowing desire to lead you will result in your life embodying the multi-dimensionality of spirit.

As beautiful as that sounds, the reality is that living a meaningful life is hard work. There can be no road already made for someone unique as you! You will not just be on the journey making choices but you will also have to build the road.

You will need to be in touch with your desire, know how and where to direct its energy and then go out and take action. These are three separate skills; inner connection, outer projection and action. And to be clear, desire is pure, the object of your desire is what you are projecting your desire onto. Desire and the object of desire are two separate things.

There are further complexities. When you become an adult and start to truly choose where you are going, your life is already in motion so you will have to manage the influence of that motion which may not be in your control.

So far, what we know is that desire is the voice of spirit talking to your heart. You will find something out in the world to attach your desire to, commonly referred to as the object of your desire. As beautiful as desire is, you will have to build the road you are going to travel on. The road will not go in a straight line like a Walt Disney movie. You will encounter many lessons which will appear as obstacles, both from the motion of everything and everyone in your life as well as situations and circumstances, like an inconvenient mountain in the middle of your path, requiring you to make new choices. Oh and you will take many wrong turns which will also be part of the journey.

What you are attempting to do when you take the journey of desire is to try to stay in contact with the purity of your desire and allow spirit to guide you.


Desperation is desire that has become sick. Desperation is desire seeking to return to health. If desire is the voice of the spirit then desperation is the voice of the unhealed pain of the past. It is the state of need, specifically unmet need. It is like a child separated from its family. Desperation is both a broken connection and broken communication with your spirit.

Although both desire and desperation have a quality of wanting something, desperation is focused on what’s missing as opposed to focusing on making good choices through the progression of the journey.

The intensity of this unmet need carries an immediate urgency like a starving child compelling you to do anything to satiate without concern for the consequences. A hungry infant has every right to scream out of helplessness and need but when we are an adult and that voice is inside you, it will be your choice as to how you care for this unmet need and that choice will determine the direction of your life. Not just once but every choice is adjusting the direction you are going. There is no cruise control without consequences because every choice has an affect on your life. Attitude, perception, interpretation, passivity and action all adjust the GPS.

When your mind is on desire, your focus will be on the way you do what you do. When in desperation your focus narrows in on the outcome only . That outcome being “satiation ASAP!” because when you’re starving and desperate now is the priority.

There is a saying in Chinese “when you are thirsty is not the time to dig the well”. In addition to immediate need, a desperate person senses he or she lacks a process for growing and harvesting on meeting those needs in the future creating a vicious cycle between the consequences of living in the moment and reduced opportunities to dig-a-well that will bring provision later. The longer you live for the needs of the now the more tethered you will become to your lower self which, like an animal, is not looking for the meaning of life.

There are many reasons a person doesn’t dig a well. Whether its lack of knowledge, skill or resources, desperation slowly uses up your energy at the time of need, making it easier to give up and look for someone who can just give you some water.

The irony of desperation is that while seemingly focused on a singular goal of meeting a need, desperation has no ultimate destination the way desire does. When desperate, a person will go anywhere and do anything to avoid the pain of that unmet need. While it feels like you are getting somewhere, you are really just running from where you are.

How interesting that when in desperation we can believe we are fulfilling desire, when in fact we are actually doing the opposite. We are simply disconnecting from the unmet need whilst believing we are taking care of ourselves. The proof that acts of desperation don’t heal anything is proven when the same feeling comes back shortly after and you have to repeat the same action to meet the need. If the action you take is something you know isn’t healthy then that is a clue that you aren’t taking care of anything that will lead you to a deeper connection with spirit.

Another quality of desperation is closed mindedness. When desperate, our attention becomes narrow and focused which is the definition of being closed minded.

If desire is a “yes” to life then desperation is a “no” to feeling.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with taking care of a need like being hungry, the true value of desperation is in recognizing choice. You have a painful feeling inside, do you avoid the pain or turn toward the pain and use it as fuel toward your purpose?

Desire is both the
disease and the cure

While desperation is the more difficult state to be in, it offers the choice as to how to care for this unhealed part. Avoid or engage. To engage does not mean to give in to the need any more than you would give a screaming three year old candy at the grocery store. You have to find a way to allow the feeling without resistance so the energy that has been long separated from the whole can return back to spirit.

To teach your suffering parts that experiencing itself is healing you have to allow the feeling. This isn’t a one time choice. It takes a lot of repetition over time, discipline and practice to be able to focus on healing rather than satiating when we feel desperate.

You are not the state of desperation, you are the owner of the state therefore how you interact with it and what choices you make will determine the destination of your journey

Desire being born of spirit is already perfect and in no need of change. We must make contact with it but it is desperation that provides you with the fuel to make the contact. To work with desperation, lack, hunger and scarcity is to heal it and return it to spirit. When this happens you can begin to focus on the quality of the journey rather than the end of the trip.

There are many ways to work on this. Here are three that have helped me a great deal.

Allow and Accept

Allow and Accept

As I just mentioned “allow the feeling”. It is just energy. That energy is you. Allowing it lets it recirculate and become a healthy part of you.

Say yes to something!

Say yes to something!

Desire is the “YES!” inside you. It is the power of spirit to awaken, stimulate, invigorate and motivate you to engage in your life fully without reservation. 

They say “fake it till you make it”. Risk saying yes to something somewhere, so you can put your whole self into your life, even if you feel afraid. When you risk saying “yes”, you are co-creating with spirit. Energy will come to you. Courage will come to you.

When you say “yes”, while the outcome is not always what you wanted or expected, at least you know you were responsible for your choices which continue to give you power to learn and try again. If you are passive and don’t make a choice, when something happens to you you will believe you are a victim when in fact you chose passivity. 

When you say “yes”, it teaches you something about your choices regardless of the outcome. The important part is to develop a relationship with spirit and learn where your interpretation of that motivating force can be improved. The power of saying “yes” will unify all parts of you to work together and give you energy to act.

Following desire is saying “yes” to living.

Following desire is saying “yes” to living.

Many say “yes but..”. “Yes but..” is splitting the oneness of yes into the possibility of no. “Maybe” is also not yes. Yes cannot be divided or quantified. Saying yes commits you and gives a positive direction for any lack, hunger or desperation.

“Yes” has the quality of openness. In the state of yes, your mind is open to possibilities. You are truly open-minded. “Yes” lacks tension or stress. When you say “yes” the thoughts will not be the linear mind directing you but rather spirit sending messages to the mind, with you being the one who hears it. These messages are never wrong or sending you in the wrong direction. Your job is to learn to listen and hear without a filter and be available to apply the instructions.



I’ve been saying this for thirty years, “Breathe!”. It’s so simple and I never get tired of reminding myself and others to breathe. Breath is life. Breathing in is saying “yes”. Breathing in is breathing in spirit which is the definition of inspiration. 

When you are confused, suffering and emotional, rather than focusing on alleviating the feeling, focus on your breath. Give yourself twenty quality slow breaths. These are breaths that you simply allow to happen on their own. You simply become the watcher.

Here’s how I do it: 

  • Exhale out and wait. In a moment the incoming breath will happen on its own. 
  • Watch that first breath and see if you can keep watching and letting the breath be automatic.
  • See if you can do 20 breaths like this. 
  • Focus on the numbers to keep your mind from drifting. If you drift, go back to zero. 

By the time I get to twenty a calm has taken place. You will feel calmer and more connected. Call it a rest stop before you get back on the road again.

If you are ready to heal internal desperation, lack and hunger then you must bring it to the surface. Here you can employ the Effiji Breath Technique with a trained facilitator. It’s a chance to release old patterns, programs, traumas and habits so you can have the joyful and fruitful spiritual journey you are meant to have.

Life is a trip. How you take the journey is your choice.

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