“What Do I Want?” – 2 Ways I’m Getting Better Insights

by Mike Sententia on October 30, 2013

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I’ve realized recently, there’s a good way and a bad way to ask, “What do I want?” It all depends on what part of my mind responds. This post is about two ways I’ve found to get the right parts to respond.

(This is about personal growth, not magick. If that’s not your interest, feel free to skip it.)

I was going through a tough time in a relationship. I’d ask, “What do I want?” and get, “Affection from D,” or something similar. Which isn’t healthy — it’s not something I have control over, it put me in a cycle of constantly going back to someone for affection and, if I didn’t get it, being in a worse place after, and generally, it puts someone else in charge of my well-being. Bad stuff.

I learned to sit with the question, to acknowledge that initial response, let it subside, and give the other parts of my mind time to reply. And I’d wind up with, “To feel whole / safe / not anxious.” Now, that’s an entirely different proposition. I can do that in lots of ways: Becoming mindful of my body, and of what’s tense; talking with a different friend who’s reliably supportive; physical exercise. It even suggests: Do not talk to this partner who’s left you feeling bad, because that’s likely to make it worse.

I’ve also added another question: “What’s healthy for me?” Because what I want and what’s healthy are often two different things, not just with food, but with work (the project that earns pats on the back vs the hard work that improves your skills), relaxation (the video game that heavily stimulates your brain vs the calming activity that gets you ready to create something new afterward), and relationships (excitement vs a calm stability that lets you focus on what you want to create.) Sometimes, the healthy thing is frightening, or hard, or just plain awful, but it’s the only way to fix the underlying problem.

And, a trick: I don’t jump from “X is healthy” to “I’m doing X.” Because if I do, my brain will outsmart me, and not present really unpleasant things as healthy. I have another step, “Knowing X is healthy, what do I want to do?” And it’s perfectly legit to say, “Not X,” or, “Not now.” Because, if I want to be honest with myself about what’s healthy, I also have to allow myself an out, if I’m just not ready for it.

Thoughts? Got your own strategies? Leave a comment.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

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