How To Know What You Want

As lost little 20-something souls, we tend to go after things that we think we want without really even investigating whether we really want them at all.

For example, if you’re a lost 20-something soul, you might have goals and aspirations that resemble the attractive American Dream: getting married in your 20’s, being forever in debt to the bank so you can own dirt, bearing cute kids who come equipped with a high IQ and good manners, and securing a fantastic paying job with extravagant benefits. Or maybe your wish list consists of other wants. Either way, let’s play.

Pretend that I’m a Magic Genie that can grant you five special wishes. I can give you whatever five things you most want right now. Go ahead, rub my belly, and wish for whatever five things that you’ve been working your tiny little butt off for: a swimming pool in your backyard, a boyfriend who does whatever you want, a walk-in closet that resembles a Holt Renfrew change room? Don’t be shy. List them now!

Now I want you to go through each wish and visualize yourself having that wish come true. If you wished for a boyfriend who chewed quieter and who let you call the shots all the time, visualize that. If you wished for a closet the size of Grand Central Station in your bedroom picture yourself enjoying that closet right now. Visualize it all, baby.

As you visualize yourself having these things I want you to notice how you feel in your body. I bet most of the things you’ve wished for aren’t raising as much as a hair on your arm which means it’s not what you really want.

And if your wishes do raise hairs and give you the warm fuzzies then I applaud you for already being super tuned in to your body and soul and going after the life you were truly meant to live!

But if you’re like most lost souls in your 20’s, you are probably going after things that you think you want, or things that other people and society think you should have.

We tend to want these specific things because we think they will make us feel a certain way: a reliable, high-paying job will make us feel more worthy, a marriage will make us feel safe, loved, and more secure, a gargantuan-sized closet will make us feel happier. We think we will feel all these positive emotions if we have these things, but that’s actually not the case.

You see, what we are actually going after is a feeling state. We want the reliable, high-paying job because we think it will make us feel more worthy. We want the marriage because we think it will make us feel safe, loved, and more secure.

But I have a hunch that you just proved to yourself, by doing the exercise, that these things aren’t bringing you much more than a yearning for Starbucks and a comfy bed to rest your tired little head.

So instead of thinking about the things you want, think about the feelings you want to experience. How do you want to feel in life? Peace, content, love, excitement? Choose five different feeling states you’d love to drench yourself in, and then go from there. (Click here to see a list of the different emotions/feeling states!) Play around and see what gives you these feelings. You might find that a peaceful walk in the rain with your Chihuahua is all that’s needed to stir up love and happiness, which can sure avoid a lot of misery in your future!

Start small by noticing what tiny day-to-day events create these feelings; it’s through this practice that you’ll learn what you’re passionate about and what you truly want to spend your days doing.

I’d LOVE to hear about your practice! Share one activity that gives you one of your desired feeling states below! This stuff is sooo exciting!!

Let’s Talk About Your Problems

This week I want to talk to you about your problems.

What was your #1 problem today?

  • Did your chronic pain piss you right off?
  • Did your stomach fall over your pants too much?
  • Was your bus driver too angry, or too happy, for you?
  • Did you feel like eating everything within a 1 mile radius of you?
  • Did your cat piss you off by shedding too much hair?
  • Did people ask too much of you?

If your problem involves some sort of complaint, worry, or self-critical thought or judgement, I assure you, that THAT is NOT your REAL problem.

Let me say that again.

Whatever your #1 problem was today, or any problems you had today, or yesterday, or the day before, that problem is NOT the real issue.

The real issue is almost always something much deeper.

The real issue is almost always an emotion that needs to be felt.

When we get lost in mental activities like worrying, ruminating, thinking about the past or future, obsessing about something, criticizing ourselves or others, etc. that is the ultimate sign that we are disconnected from ourselves. We subconsciously engage in this mental behavior to disconnect from our bodies when we are trying to avoid feeling an emotion. It’s like the mind’s way of protecting us from discomfort. Unfortunately, it is actually feeling the emotion rather than avoiding it that will  lead us closer to comfort within our body and our life. Because as you all know, avoiding emotions can lead to physical pain in your body, which sure ain’t comfy! And when you are more connected to your body and emotions you become much more comfortable in your own skin.

But don’t beat yourself up about engaging in this mental behavior! You most likely picked it up from a very young age when you learned that emotions like sadness, anger, frustration and fear were, in a nutshell, no good to feel. This avoidance behavior happens on such a sub-conscious level that you don’t even realize you are doing it, so you fall for your mind’s tricks by getting sucked in to those stories about your pain, your fat thighs or stomach, and your bus driver (or insert whatever frustration YOU have here), instead of dealing with the real issue, which is an emotion that needs to be felt and released.

Come on, did you really believe you were too fat or your cat was too hairy?

Here’s my challenge for you: every time you notice yourself worrying about something, like your pain, criticizing yourself or your cat (can you tell I’m speaking from experience here? “I mean come on, Mila (my cat)! Why the f&@# do you shed so much? Who do you think you are anyways?”), worrying about your future or ruminating about your past, or anything that really just ends up being mental clutter that serves no purpose, flip your attention away from that and go inward. Ask yourself what you are feeling emotionally. Ask yourself what feeling you might be trying to avoid in this moment. Answer with a one-word emotion: mad, sad, glad, frustrated, happy, etc.?

So before you open your mouth to complain about something, or before you get lost in that mental junkyard of yours, curiously see what emotion you might be avoiding instead. If you don’t know, just guess. The more you do this, the easier it will be to pinpoint what emotion you are feeling. Not only will you be more in tune with your body and emotions (which means pain relief!!!) you will also notice yourself worrying, complaining, and self-criticizing way less! Wahoo! You won’t need it to divert your attention anymore!

Hmm…anyone else feel the need to end this post in song and dance?