Excerpts from Worthy, by Nancy Levin
from Chapter 9
In our culture, we've been told that desire is selfish. If you look at the world as a zero-sum game, then for you to get what you want means someone else goes without. But that's not how the universe works. When we receive from an open honest place, we aren't taking from someone else -- we're creating from the abundance that's available to us all.f
What we're most afraid of when we think about desire is actually greed. If you look up the words "greed" and "desire" in the dictionary, you'll see that they have different meanings. A desire is something we wish for. Greed, on the other hand, is defined as selfishness and as excessive desire for more [and more and more and more, without regard for why]. Greed is a fear-based emotion. It comes from the belief that there isn't enough, so we need more and more in order to feel safe. Desire comes from a place of believing that there is plenty, so we can have what we want without any need to be excessive.
Unfortunately, we have a belief in our culture that giving in to desire means we'll become greedy desire machines - that we might become so addicted to our desires that we just take, take, take. But isn't that fear irrational? Yes, there are greedy people in the world, but what's the likelihood that you'll go out of control and become someone you're not just because you allow yourself to feel desire? The fact that you're [taking this course right now] to develop a higher level of consciousness in the process, makes it highly unlikely that you'll turn into a monster just by giving yourself the freedom to want. So if the fear of becoming greedy rears it's ugly head, remind yourself of who you are. I'll bet you're someone who loves to give [maybe even who is learning to receive]. That isn't going to change just because you let yourself have more. In fact, with your own needs and wants taken care of, you're likely to feel even more generous toward others!
Begin to think beyond your means. I'm not suggesting that you live beyond your means! That's a totally different thing. Living beyond our means is a rebellious reaction to the fear that we don't have enough. For example, we tell ourselves that we're too poor to have what we want, and the next thing we know, we're running off and buying something we can't afford because we feel so deprived. On the contrary, thinking beyond our means can be a remedy for deprivation, and actually prevent [overindulging]. As we allow ourselves to desire more (while we continue working with our living beliefs, excuses, and underlying commitments), we expand what we believe is possible for us. Nearly all of us have a ceiling on what we believe we can get in life. We think, "I get this much, but no more."
It's like animals in zoos who get used to small cages. Even when placed in large habitats, they sometimes stay in an area the size of their former cage. They become accustomed to their limitations and don't feel comfortable with more. A study with goldfish is a case in point. The fish were raised on one side of a big aquarium that had been divided into two sections by a clear wall. When they tried to swim to the other side of the aquarium, they bumped into the wall.
After a few months, the researchers removed the wall, but the goldfish never tried to swim beyond where the wall had been. They had learned their lesson well: Trying to swim "over there" would be painful! So they remained imprisoned by their own choice. We're no different. Based on past experiences and fears of the unknown, we put ourselves on a starvation diet that restricts us from experiencing as much pleasure and joy as we're capable of. Even if we can imagine something more, it often feels like a fairy tale - totally out of reach. But the ceiling that we create for ourselves is a result of our limiting beliefs, nothing else. Why are we so much more comfortable thinking about what we can't have, and why we can't have it, than than we are thinking about what we could have? Once again, it feels safer. If we don't go for what we want, we can stay safe and small on the familiar side of the aquarium. We don't have to risk failure or disappointment. We don't have to risk the possibility of finding out that we aren't as worthy as we'd hoped. That's an irrational fear, of course, because as we've already clarified, we're worthy just by the fact that we're alive!
Lucky for us, we can become aware of the limitations we've put in place. Once we see them, we can use our imaginations to think beyond them. Just by being willing to imagine the "impossible," we're swimming past the invisible wall and into a more expansive future.
What I'm advocating isn't magical thinking or manifesting. I'm simply suggesting that you give yourself permission to want. All you need to do is see that it's possible to have more than you've been letting yourself have. When you do, your potential will simultaneously, automatically begin to increase. The old adage "I have to see it to believe it" has the whole thing turned around. In truth, we have to believe it to see it in our lives. As William Blake said, "What is now proved was once only imagined."
(Where the brackets [ ___ ] appear, I've altered the text slightly to make more sense in the context of this course.)