How to deal with wanting what you can’t have

MindsetBy Eamon

Mark Twain once said, “there is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” Whether it’s the allure of a red Ferrari, an unattainable crush or picture-perfect travel spots on Instagram, that insatiable hunger for more always seems to taunt us. Luckily, to understand why you want what you can’t have and how to deal with it can unburden you and even be used as a great driving force for a passion or money.

As the global economy slumps and we find ourselves tightening the purse strings, there’s no better time to learn to control your cravings – so read on.

Why you want what you can’t have

The real reason you want what you can’t have differs by person. Many people are trying to fill a void in their life. Others are influenced by movies, social media and hyper-consumerism to desire and keep up with unrealistic expectations. There’s also an aspect of nature that keeps us in a state of wanting more resources to survive, compete, and climb social hierarchies. A few common examples that could apply to you:

  • You like the excitement and anticipation of the chase
  • You need a purpose or goal to strive towards
  • You’ve built up a fantasy of what it’s like to have said things.
  • You want to validate your ego or increase status
  • You may suffer from low self-esteem or dependency
  • You’re just following a natural desire or social conditioning

Ultimately, we believe the things we are missing will bring us satisfaction or fulfilment.

Even if you think none of these underlying causes describe your situation, it’s best to keep an open mind to the possibility because dismissiveness will almost certainly lead to a failure to understand the truth. Instead, be brutally honest with yourself, accept that everyone has flaws, and find those potential pain points in your life so you can fix them and move on.

How to overcome what you can’t have

There’s no ignoring the thrill of the chase. Hormones and dopamine are released and this can be addictive. Dealing with this may look something like this: Accept that your emotions and impulses consume you and start working towards controlling them using the rational part of your brain. This may temporarily cause discomfort but you’ll soon find yourself feeling better off as over time you’ll learn to let things go. Whether you need to get over someone or save money, here are some powerful tricks to stop wanting what you can’t have. 

  1. Reframe your feelings.
  2. Train your mind to be stronger than your feelings
  3. Channel your energy towards other meaningful purposes.
  4. Focus on having a life committed to balance.
  5. Meditate until you have the ability to clear your thoughts (presence to the moment)
  6. Learn to enjoy your own company.
  7. Work on investing in yourself.
  8. Talk to others for emotional support and guidance.
  9. Become more realistic, practical and stoic.
  10. Replace consumption with production.
  11. Build good habits and break bad ones.

Finally, understand that just because you can’t have some things right now, you won’t ever have them. While obsessions are rarely healthy, you can plan steps to get you closer to your goals. Most important, though, is knowing why you want what you don’t have. And that will highlight what you need to work on. Look to change aspects of yourself to attract a better life. The best version of you is yet to come and the more value you have to give to the world, the more it will reward you.