This is part of a series called: “How to Give Great Circle.” It’s for those who’ve Circled before and want to hone their Circling skills. If you haven’t already read the previous parts, I highly recommend you do so here.

One thing I’ve noticed as a recurring theme in various circles is how challenging it can be to name what we are wanting in a given moment—how to name and own our desires.

It may be easy for us to say what we want in the future, like: “I want a red lambo,” or “I want a life partner who will meet all my needs and never complain,” but it’s actually kind of hard to articulate what we want in the present moment.

Sometimes a facilitator will outright ask the Circlee what she or he is wanting.

And it’s not uncommon for the Circlee to have no clue how to answer.

Why It’s Hard to Name What We Want

One reason it’s hard to name what we want is that we’ve been conditioned in our culture that certain desires or explicitly asking for those wants to be met is unacceptable.

We disowned or repressed our desires as part of our social conditioning. We were taught it’s not appropriate to have or express certain desires.

And because of this, we all learn to covertly try to get what we really want in about a billion different ways. Marcia B, creator of the Good Girl Recovery Program, calls this Desire Smuggling.

Of course, in everyday life, there are valid reasons for not explicitly naming our desire. For example, probably not a good idea to say: “Wow, employee, I’m noticing I’m feeling aroused and I want to kiss you right now.”

Yeah, don’t do that.

BUT my point is due to this Desire Smuggling habit we all learned at a young age, we became disconnected from even knowing what we want. It’s like we can’t even see it… let alone articulate it.

Another reason it’s tricky to name what we want is that the emotional part of the brain associated with desire is a different part than the part of the brain associated with language. So feeling our desire and then articulating it is a skill that often has to be developed. Often we just haven’t developed the muscle for articulating our desires.

One other reason it can be challenging is if we’re in a state of stress. If a Circlee, upon getting all this attention is a bit overwhelming, the fear state in her body can make it a little tough have her brain firing on all cylinders, and able to access both feelings and verbal skills at the same time.

I’ve noticed that some people have trouble even saying the words “I want…”

One last reason it’s hard to name what we want is we don’t know what we CAN ask for, especially when it’s in the present moment.

We don’t know what’s on the menu, so to speak.

Okay, Bill, so tell me what is on this metaphorical menu you speak of?

Some Examples of Naming What You Want from Others in the Circle

If a facilitator asks the Circlee some version of: “What are you wanting?” — what are some ways we can answer that, while keeping our answer in the Here and Now?

Here are some examples:

I want to be heard.

I want to hear some appreciation.

I want reassurance.

I want encouragement

I want to be held.

I want a hug.

I want to laugh.

I want to make you laugh.

I want to hear what ___(someone’s name) is experiencing.

Etc…

Ultimately What We Want is a FEELING

Spiritual teacher Danielle LaPorte asserts that ultimately everything we do in life is to feel good.

In her book, The Desire Map, which I highly recommend, she walks the reader through exercises to get clear on how we want to feel in different aspects of our lives, such as work, romance, family, etc., and then using those feelings to guide our goals and big decision making.

So…

One Way to Name What We Want is as a Feeling

If a facilitator asks: “What are you wanting?” — here are some more examples of possible responses:

I want to feel relaxed.

I want to feel love.

I want to feel peace.

I want to feel connected.

I want to just let go.

I want to feel appreciated for the places I’m strong.

I want to feel accepted for the places I’m not strong.

I want to feel joy.

I want to feel respect.

Etc…

Reminder to Speak in the Affirmative

Notice these examples are stating what we do want, not what we don’t want.  It’s my experience that we often get what we put our attention on. So don’t speak about what you don’t want, but speak about what you do want.

We Can Use Projections, Judgements or Emotions to Notice a Desire

If you have some sort of strong emotional response to something, that can be a helpful cue that you are wanting something.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio says emotions serve a valuable purpose — and we can use emotions as indicators as desires and unconscious thoughts.

So when you have a strong reaction to something, you can ask yourself: “What is this response saying about me and what I want?” Another good thing to notice!

For example: “I’m noticing I’m pissed off right now and I want you to apologize for saying that.”

Or: “I’m noticing I’m agitated and I want you to listen to me finish my thought.”

Or: “I’m noticing I’m really curious about what you just said and I want you to say more about that.”

Please Note: You May Not Get What You Want

Just because a Circlee wants something, doesn’t mean the facilitators will give it to them. And occasionally, a facilitator may ask: “What’s it’s like to want that?” — to dig deeper into the feeling of a desire.

However it plays out, Circling is not about making whatever comes up goes away. Instead, it’s about having a shared experience, welcoming whatever is happening in the moment—including our desire to change it.


I hope you got something valuable out of this post that you can apply to your Circling practice. Stay tuned for the next one in the series!

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