The bullshit of “If you really wanted it, you would do it”

This a popularly held piece of bullshit that has pissed me off most of my adult life after doing untold damage to my psyche as a child/teenager.

I am going to use my weight issue as an example, but the ‘wanting it enough’ statement is used for lots of things that people struggle with.  And almost universally its bullshit.  The reasons parallel quite nicely with my example.

I have been fat to some degree or another most of my life.  And I tried daily for most of my teens and 20s to diet.  I dreamed about being thin, I tried and failed at just about every diet that came down the pike.  I knew more about nutrition and dieting than just about anyone I knew.

But I just got fatter not thinner.  And it was said to me by friends, family and strangers “When you want it enough, you will be able to do it.”  That was apparently the key to unlocking the problem.  Just wanting it more than I already did.

Lets unpack that piece of stupidity.

If I want it enough, means that despite the fact that the dream and the desire to be thin was filling all of my imagination -it was apparently not “enough” wanting to allow me to successfully diet.

The constant planning for  eating the correct foods, researching new diets, spending thousands and thousands of dollars on it hadn’t quite hit “enough”.

It means that  even though my life on a daily, often moment by moment basis was a series of humiliations, of physical limitations, and of just plain pain, it was was somehow not outweighing some mysterious advantage to being fat and/or eating too much.  Apparently I needed things to get worse than 400 lbs before I triggered the “enough” category of wanting.

Now lets consider what the implication of this sentence is.  Not only am I fat, unattractive, unhealthy and utterly miserable, I WANT to be that way.  That’s what someone is saying to me.  I enjoy being all of that so much that my obsession with being thin – it was just a drop in the bucket.

And the further implication is that there is something wrong with me because I don’t want this enough.

What scared me was that I believed them.  I just accepted that my constant state of desire and of obsession about being thin, wasn’t really “wanting”. I was constantly trying to figure out what I could possibly be getting out of the misery that would trump all of that obsession.  It certainly wasn’t on the surface the way my apparently not “enough” desire to be thin was.  I felt crazy.

And then one day, it dawned on me.  That “enough” was bullshit.  I did want it.  The entire premise of wanting it enough is faulty.

And people say it because they don’t know why a rational person wouldn’t be able to stick to a diet.

I eventually got a gastric bypass.  I don’t regret it.  I regret the belief in the bullshit of “not wanting it enough”.

Wanting something is not the intrinsic piece of the puzzle that makes us do something.

  1. People do lots of things every day they don’t “want” to do. They do them for lots of reasons other than personal desire.
  2. People do lots of things every day that they get no advantage from.
  3.  They often don’t do things that they could get an advantage from.

Life is far more complex than that statement implies and using it supremely unhelpful advice.

Don’t say it to anyone EVER.  For anything they are trying to achieve.  Their inability to do something they dream about probably has nothing to do with not wanting something.  Admit that you don’t really know why they aren’t succeeding in the endeavor and give them support.