Good day, team,
This past week, I’ve been thinking about craving and aversion. By craving, I mean that feeling of great longing, wanting or desire. By aversion, I’m talking about a strong feeling of dislike, opposition, repugnance or antipathy. Many of us have these opposite experiences almost daily, and the effect they have on us is significant.
My father used to caution my sister and I by saying, “Everything in moderation.” Frankly, for many years that sounded far too conservative for me, and although I may have heard my father’s words in my head, I didn’t hesitate to act wild and crazy. Throwing caution to the wind was fun—who cared what the repercussions would be? Doing something in excess was great while it lasted, but I almost always paid for my lack of caution later. I recall once receiving a bill from I. Magnin (a high-end department store in San Francisco) for around $4,000. I certainly didn’t make the kind of money that could support that level of spending, but I had a terrific time in the store satisfying all my cravings, buying whatever I wanted. My subsequent aversion to the bill was predictable and as extreme as the excessive spending was. Giving in to my cravings was pretty easy when I was in my twenties—I had the energy to recover from my adventures. But as I got older, the aversion to the hangover, the unpaid bills or the damage I’d inflicted on others became harder to experience. My father’s advice actually started to make more sense. I realized that doing things in moderation did make life a little easier to manage.
Even when practicing moderation, we still experience these swings of craving and aversion. Ever try dieting? It’s a great example of flip-flopping between craving what you’re not supposed to eat and then having a major aversion to yourself when you finally devour that forbidden food. How about doing a little home improvement? Ever notice how the more you improve, the more you need to improve? You change the carpet in the living room and suddenly the furniture looks old and drab. You paint the bathroom and the need for new fixtures screams out to you. We can easily become caught up in the duality of the craving and aversion dance. Giving in to either extreme can be painful.
Maybe you see that no matter how much you buy, it’s never enough. No matter which car you drive, relationship you’re in or grade you achieve in school, it’s just not quite good enough. Over time, this dissatisfaction with people and things creates an aversion to our own life, and we find ourselves in a constant state of frustration and unhappiness. There is no peace of mind where there is constant dissatisfaction and an inability to accept what is.
Your challenge this week is to see where this phenomena plays out in your life, then try exercising moderation. Do you see it come up in your work? Are you consistently craving better results from people, better quality products, more money or more acknowledgment from others? Are you never satisfied? Has your craving for these things turned into a permanent aversion to anything that is less than the perfection you crave?
Give yourself a break this week and try not to let craving and aversion rule your thoughts. These feelings will come up, I guarantee it, but you don’t have to give in to them or allow them to dictate your actions. You may find your week is more peaceful and restful if you accept what is and allow yourself to be satisfied.
Have a good week!
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