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For the past 4 years, I have issued a collection of love poems for Valentine’s day. This article is excerpted from my next Valentine’s Day issue, Heartbreak of Desire. The book is divided into sections based on the cycle of desire described here: lacking, longing, loving and losing. The poems also capture common experiences related to falling and being in love: confessing your feelings, waiting for the beloved to reply or to show up, anticipating the beloved’s arrival or a particular moment, embracing the beloved or the experience of love, and missing the beloved. To learn more about the book and get a free copy (available for a limited time only). click here:

Lacking is the raw experience of an emptiness or a void, a feeling something vital is missing, which inspires a need or drive to find it and fill the hole. Hunger is the most vivid physical version of lacking, although similar physical sensations may come even when the emptiness is based on mental, emotional, or spiritual forms of lack. Primary needs, like food, water, air, and shelter, are obvious factors with profound impact because our survival ultimately depends on them. But social science has also determined that sustained lack of social interaction and affection have similar effects. If affection is in short supply during early childhood, many children suffer the ultimate heartbreak of desire, aptly described as a “failure to thrive,” and they literally wither away and die. 

Lacking is not a problem in itself. Our need for air, water, food, and love humbles us, nestles us in the embrace of life, and makes us more human. We may be bound by our skin, isolated in our minds, living so often at the whim of our fragile egos, but we part of something greater than ourselves. This may be the greatest lesson from love: that we need the world, we need others, we need someone beside us in order to feel complete. This need is not a weakness, it is a fact of life. Without love, we are like homeless beggars, living on the backstreets of life, no matter how much we have or what we have achieved.

Lacking is the breeding ground that inspires us to reach beyond ourselves. The problem is not the feeling of lack, but the rash action on the impulse. The culture of commercialism thrives on immediate gratification, knowing it sells, and knowing what we grasp almost always leaves us wanting again within a short time and eager to buy the next love potion. 

If we can sit with lacking long enough to drop beneath the initial drive, we can explore what we really want, discover what is truly important to us, and begin to center our lives on what matters in our heart and soul rather than chase the glitter dangling in front of us. We can then cultivate our true desires and transform the experience of lacking from a painful pit into the beauty of longing leading us out of ourselves and into the world.

Excerpted from the introduction to “Lacking” in the Heartbreak Of Desire

Do you sometimes feel you are lacking something fundamental that prevents you from being loved?

What about you makes you lovable? What can you do to increase your lovableness?

I recall many times in my young adult life when I felt as if I had missed something fundamental in life, some critical education, or some basic skill, that others acquired or that came naturally to them, and that granted them greater success or gave them something I could not get. The thought was always unspecified, vague enough to perpetuate, and effectively served as an explanation for why I did not get what I wanted. I have since learned that this feeling of lacking something vital, the “it” factor, is commonplace. It thrives on a set of beliefs that Carol Dweck calls the “fixed mindset.” Either you have what it takes or you don’t. Lacking love is perhaps one of the most panful experiences, especially if we come to believe we are simply not lovable.

But if you switch to a growth mindset, the feeling of “lacking” can inspire you to learn and grow, to reach beyond yourself, and strive to make yourself a better person. You can take charge and recognize that love is not just something that finds you. You find love.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.