We all yearn for things. We can use the feeling or we can ignore it. We can’t suppress it. Yearning is an invitation to our agency.

The biggest changes we want to make can often begin as a vague and unsettling feeling, a sense of longing for something better or different. Yearning is defined as ‘an intense longing for something.’

Yearning describes the sensation of disquiet for a change as it captures well the distance to an object, the passive nature of the feeling and that while the attachment may be strong, it is not always as intense as desire or need.

Unlike desire and need, yearning can be vague as to its object. We can yearn for specific thing or person but we can also long for abstractions like better work, satisfaction or happier life. The first hints of a change can be weak, directionless and confusing.

If we choose, we can ignore this longing. It will fade given enough time and a lack of attention. However, it won’t go away. The triggers for the emotion will still be there and we will wonder what sliding doors moments passed us by not acting. We may even come to regret not converting a yearning into an impetus for change. Nobody needs regret and pining.

This yearning, even as at times a vague and directionless sense, is a major signal of disquiet with our circumstances. We cannot be present when we long for something else. This emotion is an invitation to our agency. We get to choose whether we act or we ignore. We get to choose how we respond.

We need to choose and act well. We don’t need to act precipitously. The change we make may not be a direct path to our object. It may not go there at all. If our longing involves others it may be unrequited. The time and conversation it takes us to convince others might also help us learn more about the changes.

Asking ourselves and others why we yearn opens other insights, each a door to remedy disquiet and improve our work and life. We will find other solutions or other paths as we go through this process. Sharing this process with others helps us reach beyond the limits of our own view and potential. We will also discover goals and hopes for which to yearn anew.

We can yearn passively and vaguely. We can only act on specifics. To fulfil the agency of our changes we must respond to our feelings through engaging with others, shared learning and experimentation.

8 thoughts on “Yearning

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