It’s human nature to want what we see and to want what others have. But is that truly what you desire?

And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

—Malvina Reynolds

According to French polymath René Girard, humans desire what other people want. This imitative desire affects everything we choose from our clothes, careers and vacation destinations to our friends and partners. A quick glance at the saved content on my IG account highlights that I’m constantly chasing unfulfilling desires! Whether it is perfectly laminated eyebrows, flawless “glass” skincare, the most flattering fringe of the season, or trendy swimwear, I want want others want. How much of who I am – fundamentally as a person, has been shaped by others? By my IG feed? My identity is shook. These desires are merely reflections of what I think I want. I decided that it is time to reconsider the motivation behind my desires. And perhaps we all could benefit from this tiny pause.

Let’s talk body change.

We all want to be the same – on some level, so we learn to want what other people want. Where does this internal imitative desire come from? Social inclusion? Was it a survival mechanism that we adopted to ensure that we’re always included in the pack? Sameness is safe. I’m just speculating, but it is interesting. We’ll leave that discussion to the experts. I’m interested in the impact of imitative desire on our health goals.

What do you truly desire? Blind wanting vs intentional wanting.

Desire is that yearning that comes from deep inside of you. If we think about our health goals from a physical perspective or how we look, what comes up for you? Trim waists. Shapely glutes. Toned, muscular arms with zero “jiggle”. Visible abs. These desires, as well as others, are likely influenced by current physique trends and bubbles in the fitness space. I’m sure most of us can picture our favorite fitness guru at this point. Mine is Senada Greca. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with desire. I just want to be more in control of the things I want, and to make choices that are for me – independent from trends.

Before deeply contemplating this topic, if someone randomly asked me to tease apart the influence of others and turn “blind” wanting into “intentional” wanting, I’d struggle. What do I truly want when I engage in behaviours that alter the appearance of my physical body?

Desire to be fit.

Ok, so I want to be fit (says me, several times per year since I was 15). Then, the routine goes something like this. I’m going to stick X fitness routine (different every time). I’m going to eat healthier because I need to nourish my body. Obvi. I probably should drink less wine. Probablyyyyyy. Maybe just 1 glass on the weekend. No. Scrap that. I’m trying to get fit. That means I can’t be social. When I see my friends on the weekend, we usually have a few drinks and eat out. So I should decline all social invitations – just for the next 3 months. It’ll just interfere with my fitness goals. Buuuut I’ll have more energy and I’ll be super happy once I’m fit. Who needs friends or wine, right?

The imitative desire to “be fit” can be a destructive cycle when we distill these so-called steps down to their core: commercial rivalry, internal conflict, misaligned values, scapegoating, temporary happiness and fulfillment.

None of that is what I truly wanted. I just selected a “get fit” model to copy due to the influence of a fitness guru or model.

Mimetic desire
Desire generated and formed through the imitation of what someone else has already desired or is perceived to desire. Mimetic desire means that we choose objects due to the influence of a third party, a model or mediator of desire

Luke Burgis, author of Wanting. The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life.

Unspoken desires and power dynamics are all around us. We don’t even realize that we’re constantly being swept into the same wanting cycle. Again and again and again.

Desiring differently.

I don’t want my clients to try to rid themselves of desire. Nor do I want that for myself. But I do want to help others turn blind wanting into intentional wanting by desiring differently. In other words, I want all of us to be more aware of what we are doing and why. And, to find more meaning in our efforts to live a healthier life.

If you need guidance… Yes, I’m going to plug our Health Coaching Program right now.

As Metabolic Optimization Health Coaches, we teach people how to think for themselves. We teach a process of constructive, value-creating desire. Instead of trying to FIND or COPY the “perfect program,” we believe you should create your own. One that respects and honors you, including your identity, values, and priorities.

Our metabolism-first framework meets you exactly where you are and empowers you to design an approach that is 100 percent customized to YOU. No imitating other people’s models – or their desires, anymore.

So, what do you truly desire? What others want? Or, do you want to be more in control of the things you want, and to make choices that are for you – independent from trends?

A metabolism-first lifestyle — designed for you, by you — can help you feel your best, look your best, and perform your best… so you can enjoy life to the fullest.

Get in touch today if you want to learn more.

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash