You can have whatever or be whatever you want.
So… What do I want?
I have struggled with that question for so much of my life, but I know the truth of it is that I did not struggle when I was young. Very young. I grew up with several siblings. I remember having opinions until I realized there were situations when there was nothing to be done to get what I wanted. It just made everybody angry and impatient. It got easier and easier to go with the flow and eventually I just didn’t care about anything anymore. I didn’t feel like I needed much either. But this all happened so long ago and now I am an adult that can meet my own needs, wants, dreams, and desires.
So… What do I want?
This goes far beyond a personality test with a list of likes, dislikes, and compatible careers. This is not something a magazine quiz can fix. The answers have to come from within. The answers have to reveal themselves as I move through and interact with the elements of my life throughout my day. I also have to learn to be still, quiet and pay deep attention as well as journal.
What do I actually enjoy? If there were anything I would choose to do or not to do, what would it be? What would I change about how my days look? Am I excited to wake up in the morning? What do I look forward to the most?
When I started this process of living intuitively and connecting within I started asking what I want ALL THE TIME and I got really miserable about how little I enjoyed my day-to-day life. There was a lot of fear that came along with the questions and what they asked me to consider. I was scared that I would realize something along the lines of not loving my husband or daughter or where and how I lived. The questions asked me to consider a life alone or a life far away from this place that I love. This was so anxiety inducing for me. I sat with it and it seemed like the fear was just trying to protect the parts of my life that I actually really do love- my husband, daughter, and home included. There was a lot that really did need to change in order for me to survive and I am glad to have let go of the things like school council meetings, trying to be a gourmet chef and love cooking, allowing myself to be available for everyone at all times (to my detriment), and wondering constantly what other people think of me and what they might be judging me for. I could put certain things down, but how could I determine what Istill wanted to carry with me? I didn’t want to abandon everything.
So… What do I want?
I really have been taking the time to feel the parts of my life that fill me with happiness, joy, love, pride, glee… all of the really happy-heart kinds of emotions. I really had to work at this because there are a couple of landmines I have in this regard. There are times that I get caught up in other’s excitement and believe their joy to be my own. I also get this artificial enthusiasm/happiness that masks and allows me to move through otherwise debilitating anxiety. When I am sensing things are going to go sideways and somebody is going to get frustrated or angry, I put on a happy face, fein exuberant enthusiasm, exhaust myself keeping things pleasant, and finally lie and pressure my inner self to believe that we achieved the very best good with our efforts. This is the worst because I will often get praise for how I handled myself and got the job done. It’s extremely invalidating and dishonouring. Both of these situations are hard for me to spot sometimes, but it has been getting easier with maintaining presence and awareness of myself. Being led by my intuition and feeling the good feelings has really been my best tool for finding MY joy and what lights me up. What I want comes from MY genuine awareness, acknowledgement, and enjoyment of the things around me.
My values are a direct reflection of the things that ignite joy and lovely feelings within me. These help me define what I want in my life, the directions I want to go, and what I want to fill my days with. I value connection, understanding, and unconditional support. I value independence, and creative problem solving, self-care, and self awareness. I value love, beauty, delight, sounds, words, colours, and nature. These values are all experientially derived- I didn’t take a quiz to determine them. I got within myself and really paid attention to the best parts of my day. Going for a walk showed me my values of self-care, independence, self-awareness, beauty, delight, sounds, nature, and colours. Being a stay at home parent allows me to experience my values of connection (to my immediate family), unconditional support, and love. I love practicing my photography of plants and landscapes. I get to connect to my values of beauty, colours, nature, and delight. By having an idea of these values, I am much better able to connect to experiences that enhance my joy and I can decline opportunities that don’t align with these values in my life.
There are always parts of life that are unpleasant and I need to address this as well. All experiences are part of our lives, and to actively make a huge deal of avoiding certain areas can be impossible and can rob you of the opportunity to explore new parts of yourself and grow. My values are hidden in situations I would rather avoid. For example. I hate cooking. If I never had to cook again I would be downright gleeful. But I value the connection that happens over a meal. I also value the self-care aspect of a healthy meal chosen with a high degree of self-awareness. I also value delight and colour which can be part of a good meal. So, while I loathe cooking, I do it to the very best my energy allows and I try to enjoy the process while realizing the result will nurture my values. I put down the guilt about not being the most perfect chef. It allows me to be joyful over almost any meal. Especially the ones I don’t have to prepare. It is a win, even though I would absolutely rather not cook.
I also dislike and am easily drained by social situations where I fail to connect to the people around me and where I do not feel understood or supported. I cannot completely avoid events like this, but the knowledge of my values and my inward connection and intuition allows me to step back and not absorb the situations so deeply and not to exhaust myself forcing feeble connection or explaining myself to people who can’t or won’t understand. I choose to skip parties altogether where I know the other guests and I don’t connect. I can go to unavoidable events and listen to understand without absorbing or reacting to individuals who are exhibiting unnecessary judgement. It’s another opportunity to learn about myself.
My life changed when I discovered these values and how to live from them. How they guide my decision making feels so thoroughly validating. I realize that when it comes to things I value, I am able to give as well as receive without exhaustion. It also really allows me to feel when a relationship is not reciprocal and is not uplifting. I feel energized when connections happen and are balanced, but when they aren’t, I am able to protect myself. It also allows me to audit my behavior. I know that when I do something out of alignment with my ideals… I just feel icky. I have definitely gotten caught up in conversations that get gossipy and judgemental. It is not awesome. It is not uplifting. It is not supportive. I don’t like feeling the way I do after I act in a way that runs counter to my values, but I am able to easily identify what happened and work to correct the situation moving forward.
So… After all of that… What do I want?
I want to engage with my values daily and as often as possible. I want to align myself with connection, understanding, unconditional support, independence, creative problem solving, self-care, self-awareness, love, beauty, delight, sounds, words, colour, and nature. I seek activities and opportunities that encompass as many of these areas as possible. I keep my eyes open for new ways to connect to these values and I try to discover where they may be hiding in every aspect of my life. I still have more to figure out but I’m open to it all.
So… What do you want?