Desire Paths

When I sleep my mind runs away into familiar lands. Some are a pleasure to visit and leave me ready to take on the day with a new sense of motivation, and others lead me straight to the land of self-doubt and negative-worst-case-scenario-ville, leaving me unsure, tired, and lacking motivation.

Does your mind take you to these familiar lands?

This doesn’t happen every night, but more night’s than I would like.

Most of us have our own self-limiting beliefs, imposter syndrome fears, and even self-fulfilling prophecies, that some might say, were manifested into being by being focused upon. It can be exhausting, consistently being your own cheerleader or at least not to be your greatest saboteur.

There are people who have never felt this way who do not know the feel of this lands soil under their feet. Super emotionally healthy people, with high self-esteem who noodle on an issue, work through it and leave it behind. I have not been so lucky and I suspect that many of you often suffer from overthinking and catastrophizing. Hello, my siblings.

If you are one of the special snowflakes who doesn’t know these lands, good on ya! We need more of you.

In City planning, there is a practice of waiting to pave paths until natural “desire paths” are identified.  If you have ever been on a college campus or a public park, any open space really, then these paths will be familiar to you. They are the paths of least resistance, the paths that we desire to walk. Most large campus construction projects will wait to pave paths until the inherent desire paths are chosen by the end-user, saving time, money, and energy on blocking them or re-seeding them.

Whether we are aware of it or not, these desire paths impact our personal lives too. We have our own desire paths, emotional desire paths, that are our learned paths of least resistance. They are our go-to emotions and reactions. They look like this;

  • Saying yes when you really mean no or need more time to make an informed decision.
  • Wanting to jump in and take over when things aren’t going right or could be done “better”.
  • Feelings of guilt when you draw a firm boundary and disappoint someone.
  • Feeling less-than among your peers, as if you are not living up to your potential.

Just as when my mind races away to the familiar lands of second-guessing myself or that stinkin’ thinkin’ around the worst case scenario. These are my well-trod emotional desire paths.

They are not emotions we desire to have, they are the well-trod paths in our psyche that always lead to the same place. Some refer to this as a comfort emotion, although it is not very comforting.

The good news is, with awareness you can change these paths to more effective ones that lead to a better outcome. You can create new desire paths using familiar emotions as a self-trigger to “check the facts”.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you feel as if you are heading down a negative desire path;

Is this valid? Is this judgment or emotion a valid one that is appropriate in this situation (having all the facts)

Am I being too hard on myself? Measure your accomplishments, no matter how small so that you can check in to see if you are giving yourself credit for the forward momentum in your life or business. We can’t achieve our goals in one day, it is a slow process.

Am I holding myself back? Fear is such a powerful emotion. Fear is the great protector and our minds will often throw up roadblocks to limit the possibility of getting hurt or failing. But this is a part of life, it just is.

Patterns of thinking and patterns of reacting can be changed, but only with awareness. When you become aware of your desire path, you can alter them.

There are many ways you can do this. Through journaling, key performance indicators, goal charting, and reflection.

One of the reasons I love delving into all things ‘difficult’ is because that is the core of where our patterns of acting and reacting live.

What are your emotional desire paths? Do you have a go-to emotion that has served you well up to now? We all have them in some form or another. If you are a parent you might enjoy trying to determine your children’s emotional desire paths. Patterns explored become more apparent.

If you want to know how these paths are impacting your life and relationships, book a consult call with me. We can explore this together.


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