Because the moment that you agree to something, when in truth you don’t want it, you betray something.

You betray yourself.

“Yes sweetie, I’ll come to that party.”

Except I don’t want to go.

I would be absolutely clear about this fact if I actually looked inside and felt myself. I don’t do this. Because I know it’s really important to her. I know everyone there expects me to attend. I don’t want to seem rude. I don’t want to let anyone down.

So I say yes.

It doesn’t go well.

People ask afterwards “is he ok? He didn’t seem himself.”

Yes, he’s well. He just betrayed himself a little.

The truth of your desire is felt

Some tell us that desire is the root of suffering, and that if we give up our wanting, we will become enlightened. Or that wanting is selfish and greedy, and good people give to others and do what’s expected.

Others tell us to follow our bliss, to do whatever we want, that this way we will create heaven on earth. They say we deserve our hearts desire, and we shouldn’t let anyone get in our way.

Neither of these forms of wanting are what I am referring to. Because I think neither of them are true.

The truth of your desire – of what you really want – is not a momentary whim. It’s not the child’s desire to have that toy now! It’s not the kind of want that needs to be met – the grasping that the Buddhists rightly tell us leads to suffering.

It’s not even something you really get to choose.

The truth of your desire is felt. It’s already in there, in your body-mind, before your social filters get hold of it and pass it through the appropriateness test. It’s whole, real. It’s given to you, a feeling of organic attraction that simply has you want to move closer.

The feeling of desire could be simple and calm. It could be mountainous and overwhelming. It could be big enough that it includes all kinds of smaller things that you don’t want. What makes it true, is that you feel it. It’s not an idea, or a logical conclusion, or a fearful aversion, it’s real, and true.

So when you’re asked to commit to something, and you don’t feel this truth of desire, why would you agree?

There’s conflict either way

Arnold Mindell said:

“When you are true to the world, you come into conflict with yourself, and when you are true to yourself, you come into conflict with the world.”

I choose conflict with the world. Every time.

Or at least I should – when I remember that it’s a choice, and I remember that my own truth is true, and I can feel that pillar of strength that seems to wind all the way down into the earth, and all the way up to God.

When I remember all that then I’ll choose conflict with the world.

It’s backing myself and what I want, or its backing everyone else, and agreeing to what they want. It’s conflict either way. Pick your poison.

The truth is there, if you know how to look

It’s in your whole body. The whole feeling of yourself, from the highest capacities of your mind, through the vulnerabilities of your heart, into the simple knowing of your gut.

“Yeah, that sounds interesting.”

“Sure, ok.”

“Well, yeah, that would probably be good.”

All of these mean no.

The truth of your desire is conspicuous. It’s a resounding and unmistakable signal. It doesn’t have any flimsiness to it. It emerges from inside, rooted, simple, true.


When you feel it, you know it. It’s as if a bell is struck, and the note makes your entire being resonate with the truth of it.

You may not like the truth. It may be inconvenient. It may grate against your sense of moral obligation, or appropriateness. It may mean you have great conflict with those around you.

Maybe the consequences of acknowledging your truth feel too costly, and so it seems easier to lie to yourself, and acquiesce.

No sweetie. Don’t do it.

Don’t agree when you know it’s not what you want.

Because if you do you’ll only sabotage it anyway. You’ll ensure you have a miserable time, or everyone else has a miserable time. Or you’ll regret it afterwards.

Or worse, you won’t notice any of these things, and you’ll go through life gradually betraying yourself piece by little piece, until you don’t even know who you really are any longer.


Don’t do anything you don’t want to.

This way, you’ll spend your entire life doing only things you do want. And who doesn’t want that?

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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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