by Jonathan Dickau ©'95, '99
all rights reserved
Our wishes, or desires, are one of the defining attributes of our individuality, but how many people can make their dreams come true? In truth, many people don't even know what they really want, much less how to accomplish their goals. There are others who know exactly what they want, but still can't quite get their act together to accomplish their heart's desire. The idea of wish fulfillment is something which first enters human consciousness at an early age indeed. In fact, we all learn to desire long before we learn to speak. We form wordless impressions of what we want, or don't want, and this is the earliest concept we have of the subject. These impressions persist, and they constitute part of the underlying structure which shapes all our future wishes.
From the moment we are born, most of us begin to wish for the warm, safe environment of the womb, from which we have been violently pushed, or pulled, into this world. The personality we form, from that moment on, is largely shaped by our desires. These fall into two broad categories, those things we'd like to have more of, and those things we'd rather be rid of, or get away from. In general, people feel that they are attracted to pleasurable things, and try to avoid painful things, but it doesn't always work as we expect it to. As long as we continue to be attracted or repelled, however, we will continue to endeavor to satisfy the desires which arise as a result.
We develop theories in our mind, about what actions might yield worthwhile results, as infants, long before we have any concept of what words mean, but we soon learn to use words in our strategy to gain our heart's desire. At some point, words and actions become connected, as we find that there is a word for almost anything we can do, or possess. Later, as we learn more complex behaviors, we are supplied with phrases and sentences to describe them, and other things, as well. But this also gives each of us tools to aid in obtaining what we wish to have in our life. On the other hand, where words bring us some things, they don't help us to obtain other things at all. Many things are possible to attain, or obtain, only if we take correct action, at the right time and place.
Sometimes strategies that work well with one person, or one group of people, are poorly adapted to the temperament of another, and it makes life tough to understand. Similarly, differing situations demand different solutions to the same problem. It seems there is no universal formula for success, but rather a range of approaches particularly well suited to a variety of temperaments and environments. Although there is no single strategy for getting what you want, which works for all people and all situations, certain elements of strategy are useful to remember, and will help you to find the best approach to a given task. The idea is not merely to adopt a policy, however, based on someone else's method, but to find out what works for you, and make that your method.
The first step is knowing what you really want, and this often isn't so obvious as it seems, because most of us are too caught up in the activity of living life to step back from our immediate conditions and ask ourselves such a basic question. If you knew that anything was possible, and you could have exactly what you most desire, what would you wish for? If you had no limits whatsoever, what would you do? If there are things you have always wanted, places you've always wanted to go, or people you would really like to see, its better to know that, than to turn away from your heart's desires because they appear unattainable, but take care that you wish for things you would still want if you actually had them. Sometimes what you wish for, at one point, will continue coming to you long after your desire for that special thing, or for the individual you longed to meet, has faded.
This doesn't mean that wishing alone, or having a clear concept of what you are wishing for, is going to bring your wish to life. Of course, everyone can wish for things which they have no immediate way of obtaining, and you can never have as much as you can wish for, but almost anything worth doing can be accomplished, and virtually anything worth having can be obtained by combining imagination and persistent effort, over a period of time, with some amount of cooperation. Be sure, however, that you are wishing for things that don't require other people to behave exactly as you would like. It's better to wish for what allows you to do your own thing, and allows others to respond as they feel is appropriate. By so doing, you leave room for their individuality in your plans, and you don't leave yourself open for blame. In my opinion, this is the only way to go.
The second step is focusing your desires, or clarifying your intent. You need to sift through the vast expanse of feelings within you, as well as looking to the outside world, to find the things which are most urgent, what has lasting importance, what can be done right now to help your situation, and so on. Where the assessment of what you want should be more of a free-for-all, with the idea of discovering your fondest wishes and dreams, the second step is more of a sobering look at how some of your most cherished desires can be worked into the scheme of your real-life activity. While going through this part of the process, you must be both thoroughly realistic and affirmative. It is extremely important to make sure that, when you are done, all of your goals are phrased clearly, and positively, so that your sub-conscious will get the right message. The sub-conscious mind responds quite literally, so we must be careful about how we describe what we desire.
We wish to avoid telling ourselves what not to do, or what we think we sort of want, and learn to give our nervous systems a clear picture of exactly what it is that we do want. In order to accomplish this, we need to use accurately descriptive language, rather than suggestive but nebulous phrasing, and we need to describe what we want to have, want to do, and want to be, not those things we wish to leave behind. Rather than saying "I want to stop smoking," for example, one can dwell on those things you will do instead of smoking. Perhaps "I will do deep breathing whenever I get the urge to smoke." would be a suitable affirmation for someone attempting to stop. Memory studies have shown that forgetful people actually tend to remind themselves to leave things behind (i.e. - "I just know I'll forget my umbrella."), and so on. This doesn't help much at all. Clear, and positive, instructions will put your sub-conscious to work for you, instead. All of your goals should be phrased in this manner, if you wish for them to become realities.
When you have completely evaluated and organized your wishes, you should be able to write down four or five things you can do right now (or in the near future) which will both improve your immediate situation, and bring you closer to achieving some of your fondest wishes in your lifetime. What is most important is that you know what you wish to do, but writing it down can empower the mind's focusing ability to work for you. People with written goals tend to do measurably better with them than people who don't write goals down, and there are good reasons why, but the choice is yours. Make sure that you are fairly thorough, in any case, going through each step of the process. Creating the outcomes you desire requires that you be both specific, and realistic. Having vague, conflicted, or impossible notions is not the way to succeed. You want to make sure that you're not being superficial, either in assessing your own true feelings, or in dealing with real-world complexities. After all, your own satisfaction is what's at stake.
The third step involves using both effort and imagination to bring your plans to fruition. Specifically, you must work both toward your goals and from your goals, to ensure success in your endeavors. It is also helpful to harness the power of both incentive and fear, as motivators, to get you where you want to be. Most people are well versed in the first approach, the slow building of momentum by taking care of one detail after another, until all of the necessary conditions for creating the final product have been met. Fewer people have mastered the second technique, which involves picturing yourself in the world where your goals have already been achieved, and then looking backwards, toward the present, to see what steps were taken to get there. It's important, in this case, to feel good about what you desire. Any approach which doesn't figure fear into the equation, however, has the potential for problems. Fear can be a killer, it is true, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes fear can be a good thing, as it is justifiably one of the most powerful motivators of all. The trick is to use its power to your advantage, to inspire courage, rather than allowing it to intimidate you, or prompt you to be foolhardy. Using both incentive and fear allows both possibility and necessity to move you forward.
Each approach has to be used interactively to be useful at all. By this, I mean that when the first results are not what we expect, we must alter our approach somewhat. Every step taken will provide feedback of our efforts, and supply us with additional information which can help us to adjust and improve our strategies for success. In addition, combining the different approaches in creative ways will allow you to create a kind of synergy between your inward and outward processes, where what is learned from one approach is swiftly applied to aid the other, saving you from wasting precious effort or scarce resources. Clear imagination of your goals can save you steps in the 'real' world, at times, but swift, effective, action can free up your creativity for more interesting, or more important, problems. Likewise, a clear incentive to act, in terms of the enjoyment gained by possible rewards, is always helpful, but the feeling of necessity to act, resulting from fear of possible consequences, is often essential to the process of making progress. We use what works for us, but every angle to play is one more tool to aid in the process of realizing our goals, and each has its place, for dealing with the various challenges we encounter, on the road to creating the life we want.
Any approach requires some level of participation or involvement, and therefore one needs to be motivated, or at least willing to apply oneself. The question of how invigorated one needs to be for optimum performance is somewhat tricky, however. You see, not only do certain tasks or situations require a particularly relaxed, or vigorous, approach to a problem, but different people also require different levels of motivation to achieve the same result. Where some need to psych themselves up, and generate enthusiasm to do their best work, this is a total waste of time for others. Sometimes being too keyed-up can make a task more difficult, or even impossible. Too much effort can burn one out prematurely, and too strong a motivation can create fear or tension. Not enough effort, or motivation, may result in no progress at all. There is, however, an optimum state of arousal for a specific person to complete a given task. The trick to achieving any desired result is knowing what that proper level of activation is, and being just that excited, whether the effort required is mental or physical. How highly charged do we really need to be to excel? Exactly enough to get ourselves to take effective action. Working well, therefore, means the intelligent use of effort.
Working toward a goal involves creating, acquiring, or assembling the necessary pieces of the puzzle you are trying to solve. By building up the necessary resources, whether they are materials and tools, or blueprints and schematics, we actually create opportunities which did not exist before. By fulfilling prerequisite conditions for our endeavors, we provide a solid foundation to build upon, giving us something to work from in order to make our wishes a reality. We also obtain a visible and tangible representation of our progress, as we accumulate material, or situational, evidence for our efforts. Every little success along the way tends to add to both our momentum, and our motivation. Of course, acquiring the necessary skills to work with the resources you possess is also a process of building toward the desired state. By practicing the necessary skills and actions until we are certain that we can handle whatever is required, we can strengthen our foundation, creating an even greater opportunity to make our wishes a reality. Best of all, this kind of result (experience) becomes a part of us, so that it can be applied to future goals, or future attempts at the same goals.
Working from the goal involves attracting the pieces of the puzzle to you, rather than attempting to pursue them. The image of your goal becomes like a homing beacon, inviting you to step forward on the path to success. A clear picture of the outcome you wish to create will do far more than increase your desire to get there, however. Imagining the wish fulfilled will empower you by allowing you to enhance the probability that the desired outcome will take place, and it also allows you to answer two very important questions. The first is "How do I know when I get there?", and the other is "What do I do when I get there?." By taking the time to imagine the situation you want to create, you have the opportunity to address both of these issues, as many times as you like, before being faced with the situation of either falling short of, or overshooting, your goal, or missing a golden opportunity because you didn't know how to deal with the situation when you arrive. Too many people don't have a clear concept of how to recognize success, once they have reached it, and many more don't know what to do next, once their plans are exhausted. It is wise to have a clear concept of both, although you don't need to work out all the details.
Using the imagination is much more powerful than depending upon will power alone. By utilizing will power for working toward a goal, you can make yourself strive for what you want, but working from a goal can make the goal work for you, by serving to motivate and lend meaning to your participation, as long as you continue to envision it! The general rule is that the more vividly you can imagine the outcome you desire, the more likely you are to see it manifest in real life. If you can put yourself in your future shoes easily, and can experience all of the sounds, sights, and even the smell of being there, you are probably well within reach of your goals. If, on the other hand, you have a hard time picturing anything but how your plans could fall apart, don't be disheartened. That which you fear is seldom the only possibility. It is usually only part of a range of possible outcomes. When you continue to exercise your imagination, or just entertain the appropriate (and effectively phrased) questions a little bit longer (to see other possible outcomes), you will find that all of the positive possibilities will appear in your imagination, in their turn.
Sometimes the fear of failure is a gift, in that it can be your mind's way of attempting to guide you past the obstacles to success, or keep you from inflicting harm upon yourself. In other cases, it reflects inhibitory conditioning, that was inflicted upon us in childhood through guilt or intimidation, which was used to keep us in line, and make us more easily controlled, by parents, teachers, and other authority figures. In still other cases, the fear arises out of an unconscious attempt to sabotage our own success, because we don't believe in what we are trying to do, or don't actually desire the outcome we are ostensibly striving for. In some instances, it is a representation of our darker side, as we don't believe in ourselves, or don't consider ourselves worthy of the accomplishment for which we are making an effort. In most cases, however, the fear we feel can be used as a motivating factor, because it arises as a result of the fact that we want something better than what we fear, and our mind is trying to show us what will happen, if we fail to take action, or fail to imagine something better. In virtually every situation where fear arises, moreover, it is trying to give us a message.
Usually, the best way to deal with fear is to come to terms with it, rather than to confront or avoid it. Sometimes it is wise to "imagine the worst," and become OK with that, so that we can defuse the emotional charge which would otherwise keep us stuck in unproductive, or even life threatening, circumstances, but it is usually best not to settle for that alone, when better options exist. This is where having the courage to take action becomes crucially important. Allowing fear to intimidate and immobilize you, so that you are prevented from taking action, will certainly not aid your cause, or carry you forward to success. Merely being at peace with your fears does little for you, in attempts to fulfill your desires. Nor does it make sense to go forth in blind anger, lashing out at everything, and everyone, that appears to be in your way. This may produce results, but they are seldom totally positive. A consistent effort to do what you can do, coupled with efforts to discover, and/or imagine, alternatives which may yield results, and the creation of plans which lead to superior outcomes, is the appropriate middle path between defective and excessive action.
Of course, there are times when no amount of individual effort or imagination is going to be enough, and the fulfillment of your wish will require more resources than you possess. What are you supposed to do then? The answer is usually that you need to get the help, and cooperation, of other people. This raises the questions of how to ask for things, what to ask for, whom to ask, and so on. There is also a question of cost. You need to discover what the people you are asking require of you, and learn how to fulfill those needs, if you wish for them to give you what you want, in return. Don't mis-apply the Golden Rule, by offering others what you think they'd want if they were you. If you expect to get what you need from others, give those people what they really want, by finding out first what that is, and then seeking ways to help them get it. Without this, we have no right to expect the cooperation of those whose help we seek.
When asking for the help of others, you need to be willing to give something in return. Sometimes, you must be prepared to create value for the other person ahead of time, for them to be willing to help you. Knowing what you want from them, and what they want from you, is the first step in creating an agreement which will fulfill your wishes. Then, of course, you must know how to ask for what you desire, or what will bring you closer to that. You may wish to consider, however, if the person you are asking is capable of granting your wish, at all, in the first place. Sometimes, a lot of time can be wasted trying to secure an agreement from parties who can't really deliver what is required. It is almost always best to ask someone who can actually give you what you want. Failing to take this into consideration is one of the most common reasons people don't realize their goals.
How to ask for what you wish is an art in itself, and there are many ways to approach it, depending on who you are, what you are asking for, and who you are asking. In every case, the process of asking requires thought, or planning, and timing as well. You should tailor your request, and its presentation, to the actual conditions and participants. Get to know them. It's good to have a specific way (possibly even two, or three, ways) of asking for what you desire worked out ahead of time. It also helps to apply the imaginative technique here, by asking yourself the question of how the other individual(s) might respond, and envisioning how you would deal with different responses. Then, you may wish to practice speaking your request a few times, to see if it actually sounds as good when you say it as it does in your mind, or on paper. Presenting your idea as effectively as possible may require both the spoken word, and words on paper, or diagrams, and so on.
Even the most excellent presentation of the best product, or the best ideas, however, will fall on deaf ears sometimes. Unfortunately, this happens quite often. In some cases, the other party isn't looking for what you have to offer, or just isn't prepared to invest in your plans at this time. This only means you need to try again later, ask someone else, or perhaps change your requirements. Be as persistent as you need to be, but without making a nuisance of yourself. Do more on your own. Keep trying variations on your basic theme, until you find something that works for you. Remember that some of the world's greatest success stories began with rather humble, or even daunting, conditions. Those who persisted, despite the difficulties they had, almost always achieved something worthwhile. People have the power to accomplish almost anything, if they keep trying long enough. There are some situations, however, where there are no more options to try. What do we do, in that case?
How about getting help from a higher source? Is it meaningful for an individual to seek inspiration from beyond, or from deep within? Does the Universe respond to our beliefs and desires? Can we tap into a greater inner power by tuning-in to the forming power of the universe, nature, and life itself? The answer to all of these questions is yes, to some degree, but each person's ability to create an advantage by doing so is dependent on a number of factors. To receive inspiration, for instance, you must have a quiet enough mind to allow new thoughts to surface. To get the universe to respond to your wishes, you must ask for its assistance. To take advantage of the forces of nature, you must be in harmony with the natural order. Knowing the natural laws helps some things greatly. This includes knowing the laws of the mind (individual and universal), as well as science. If you are looking for divine intervention, having a personal relationship with the Divinity can help quite a bit. In a similar way as with people, knowing how to ask for divine help is a useful art too.
The idea of using prayers, wishes, or spells to bring things into your life which you wouldn't have otherwise is not a new one. Nor is this approach totally without merit. In fact, it seems that the universe does respond to our wishes, in some measure, whether we like it or not, and regardless of if we notice. Some people believe that the universal mind acts upon all our thoughts, feelings, and desires automatically. Others would say that God listens to all our prayers, and knows our heart's desire. In either case, our beliefs are seen as the key factor in determining what we receive from life. How would we know this, if it were true? Could such a state be concealed? If you were all powerful, but considered your attempts to exercise power to be futile, and all your efforts to succeed destined for failure, what results would you achieve? You might very well create a world of difficulties for yourself, where your belief in your own powerlessness, and in your likelihood of failure, would make that real for you. If, instead, your belief is that God provides all you could want, that the Goddess is sharing her abundance, or merely that Life is bountiful, this may create something very different.
The question arises of whether prayers, wishes, and spells, are an ethical way to pursue ones goals. Do we have a right to impose our own desires upon the lives of others, assuming we have the ability to do so? Is it appropriate to bend the rules, if we can, so that the natural order serves our wishes? Mormons believe that it is our duty to ask God for that which we want in our life, in order to provide for our families, and assist the rest of mankind. Followers of Islam, on the other hand, state both their prayers, and their promises to others, in terms that let God decide (i.e. - I will see you next month, if it is the will of Allah (God)). I personally believe that either approach can be both effective and that prayer is appropriate, if done in a spirit of reverence, and caring for all of life. Some people take this attitude of reverence to another level, asking for nothing specifically that is for themselves, but proclaiming "I want only what is for the highest and best." Pagans, on the other hand, proclaim "As you harm noone, do what you will." I believe that divine help is always available, and that it's our right to have that help. We are powerful beings, with a natural magic of our own, but others stand ready. Angels will come to assist you, if you need them, but usually come only if invited.
Whether we call the approach of working with a higher power magic, prayer, or merely wishful thinking, the process is largely the same. Some skeptics will claim that there is no reasonable basis for this belief, but this is not the case. Where there may be no definitive scientific proof, and there are certainly many charlatans out there, there is both evidence and a theoretical basis for the existence of psychic powers, miracles, magic, and spiritual phenomena. Science has made discoveries indicating that consciousness itself creates results. In fact, the role of the observer as determiner has come to the fore as one of the most fundamental principles of Quantum Mechanics. It seems that one can't observe most sub-atomic processes without influencing the outcome, and some processes are so sensitive that even the possibility of observing the outcome is enough to change the nature of what is observed completely. This appears to show that our universe is strongly influenced by the perceptual strategies of conscious beings. What we do to merely observe something can markedly change the manifested result. Imagine what our conscious efforts might do, if they were properly focused.
Of course, events and processes at our scale are rather different from sub-atomic events, but all of our universe is created and sustained through energy exchanges which manifest as sub-atomic, atomic, or molecular, quantum-mechanical processes. It appears likely that thoughts, and even consciousness itself, may be quantum-mechanical in nature. In this case, it makes perfect sense that changing the quantum-mechanical vibrations of our thinking would effect changes in the world around us, as well. Thus, there may be a scientific basis for many kinds of psychic phenomena, spiritual experiences, miracles, and magic. I do not mean to say that all such events are genuine, but rather that the findings of Modern Science appear to require the possibility for such things to occur. If these methods work at all, they can be of great value when no other options exist. It is my personal belief that the benefits can be greater still, when one keeps this channel open by regular use.
Whether the approach to problems is esoteric or purely pragmatic, however, it is often not a matter of what we wish for, do, or provide, at all, which determines our success. Sometimes what we have to eliminate is equally important to what we need to add. In fact, it is often far more important. Removing roadblocks to success makes it unnecessary to get around problematic situations, or to build bridges over them. In this way, the proper solution can be simplicity itself. Often enough, all we need to do is get out of our own way, or clear away the opposing elements, in order to have what we want from life. This can be called following the path of least resistance, since what we need to do, in order to accomplish things this way, is merely to reduce the level of internal and external resistance, until things happen naturally. By simply relaxing, and going with the flow, we can have things which would otherwise remain forever out of our grasp, and that is the beauty of this path.
We can all have more of what we wish for in our lives, and that is why we have desires in the first place. Don't be ashamed to want things, and don't be afraid to receive them, or to have them. If you are willing to encourage yourself to dream your dreams, and then to take what action is appropriate, you can see your wishes fulfilled, but first you must let it be OK to want. Give yourself permission to have desires, as this too is part of the process of fulfillment. Desire arises naturally, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Wish fulfillment is possible only for those who can accept this. Even the most highly evolved people still have desire, in some form. We may choose to pursue noble goals exclusively, but in order to achieve them, we still have to want something. Only by honoring our desires can we hope to see our wishes fulfilled. This is, perhaps, the most important key of all. By taking our own desires seriously, and using them to help shape our plans effectively, we can accomplish all that is possible. When we give our desires wings, by using our thoughts, feelings, and actions together, in harmony, the sky is the limit of our potential.
©'95,'99 Jonathan J. Dickau - all rights reserved
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Posted on April 17, 1999