Forbidden Desires: The Difference Between Thinking and Doing

Forbidden Desires: The Difference Between Thinking and Doing

Last update: 24 January, 2017

Sometimes we fantasize about the ideas that cause us ambivalent feelings. Strands of thought that appear almost magically and in most cases are somewhat perverse — which is why we usually don’t share them — though deep down they continue to arouse our true desire. Identifying these desires, is what produces this wealth of conflicting emotions.

However, the difference between thinking and doing is considerable. If everything that went through our imagination became reality surely today we would have won the lottery several times and would have “killed” many of those people who appeared in our lives to make us fall.

When we imagine positive things, like money or someone else doing well, we are overwhelmed by pleasant emotions. This does not usually happen when we wish bad on someone or when we fantasize about people other then our partner. These thoughts are normally associated with more unpleasant feelings.

My desires make me feel guilty

On many occasions, what we think shames us, makes us feel guilty, we want to disappear and we fool ourselves by saying that these impulses do not really exist. But they are there and avoiding them will not make them disappear.

The more we try to flee from this desire, the more it haunts us. It is a paradoxical effect, such as what happens when we propose to not think of a white bear and cannot stop thinking about it. The more you try to avoid it, the more strength that thought will require.

For you yourself can see how sometimes thinking something can make us feel negative emotions I propose an experiment. Grab a piece of paper and write the name of the person you love and care for the most in this world. Save it, a little later I will tell you what the next step is.


Thought-action fusion

Rationally we know that thinking is something very different from doing. It wouldn’t occur to anyone that by thinking and desiring strongly that they will win the lottery jackpot. However, the mind does not always work rationally.

Sometimes a thought-action fusion is produced in which we believe that the more you think about something, the more likely it occurs. In this way, we may make the mistake that the more we want something or someone, the more likely it is to be real.

Let’s continue with the previous experiment. Take out the the sheet of paper again where you had put the name of that special person. Now, write “I hope they die tomorrow.” How does that make you feel?

Am I a bad person for having forbidden desires?

Bad and good are subjective concepts and have very vague boundaries. An object or person will have one quality or another depending on the situation and point of view with which you look at it.

No thought or desire makes us good or bad. All people, regardless of how they are, have both emotional and aggressive thoughts and that does not make them neither good nor bad people. It just makes them what they are: thinking human beings, people with the wonderful ability to imagine.

Recall, as we’ve said, that thinking is not the same as doing. You could dream you have the car of your dreams and that does not mean that when you wake up the car will be there. Likewise, you may want to have sex with another person without implying that you are really going to do it.


Where is the limit

Sometimes guilt can become so intense that it overwhelms us. It may seem that desires come to life through our actions and we feel that we are unable to control both what we think and what we do.

The lack of control over our desires or intense discomfort are alarm indicators that put us on alert. An alert that tells us that perhaps we are overwhelmed by not knowing how to handle what happens to us.

When your desires affect your daily life, they you cause a deep malaise, or your actions, driven by your desires, may promote any practice that violates the rights of another person or against the means itself, this will be the time to ask for help and try to learn to live more healthily with your desires.

How to deal with our mind

Thoughts are thoughts and should be taken as such. Desires and thoughts do not any have more power than what you give them. It is not necessary, nor advisable, to deny or run away from your desires. Just let them be there, enjoy them when they come and after a while they will go away.

“Do not try to expel your thoughts. Give them space, observe them and let them go”

-Jon Kanat-Zinn-


The mind is a world of possibilities, where we can fantasize, wish, play and experience without necessarily translating them into action. Only in the mind are we really free and only in it do we have the advantage of being the owners of the real object of our desire.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.