A Case and Guide for Doing What You Want
Many of my clients right now have a similar sense that they want to follow what they want. I’ve held session after session lately hearing clients share how they are so tired of spending their life on what everyone else wants. For many of them, following what they want is feeling like less and less of an option and more like their soul insists on it.
Yet, they often find it feels difficult to know how to follow their desire in a wise, integrated way. They want to make choices that align with their values, honor the people around them, and that will likely contribute to their happiness later.
It resonates with me. It’s an experience I know myself.
I am the youngest of four children, a past student of a very strict private religious school, a millennial and a woman. I’ve gotten a lot of messaging that doing what I want makes me a brat. I’ve been conditioned to believe that I shouldn’t trust my pesky desires, that they will lead me down a road of sin and loneliness, or worse. Desire and fear have been close cousins in my life.
We hear that we are being selfish, ungrateful, and delusional, and the fear of abandonment often shows up.
Much of the messaging discouraging desire is born out of fear. Upon taking a closer look, desire can reveal so much more about our personal nature, relationships, and our outward expression. It can act as a cue to the places in our lives where we can have a bigger experience.
While many of us have been taught to shut down desire straight out of the gate, exploring it with curiosity can guide us toward more productivity, energy, and connection. We feel better physically and express more freely.
Here are three questions I’ve found useful in using desire as a guide.
1. What happens in the body?
Since the primal system communicates in sensation, exploring our bodily reactions is a path to recognizing if fear is running the show.
If when you think of making a major change, your chest contracts and you feel fire shooting into your throat, can you stay with this sensation long enough to notice what emotion is associated with it? Anger? Hurt? Abandonment? Is your desire coming from a place of pain?
Or maybe you have a solid, still, sensation in your spine with light bubbles in the chest and you feel excited?
Or maybe you feel heavy, and a nagging reminding you of what your parents always wanted for you?
Our desires can be protectors of wounds or leaders into expansion and it is important to listen carefully to the real, underlying call.
2. Is it truly the external reality that is keeping you from your desire, or does your desire require inner work?
We can waste a lot of energy shifting external realities, changing partners, jobs, hobbies, etc., finding the same patterns and complexities follow us throughout each.
It may be that the way we relate to the world tends to elicit a universal response.
The internal and external work together. Sometimes, we need an external shift to fully make the internal shift, or once we do the internal work, the external shift is obvious and easy.
If we are taking action toward desire, we may as well go big, and that means shifting more than just the external reality.
3. How does this desire fit into your comfortable reality?
We tend to have a visceral response to the unfamiliar, even when its good. If someone is handed one million dollars, as good of news as it is, because it is unfamiliar, it can still be a shock to the nervous system.
Getting clear about how the desire could look, feel, smell, sound and taste in your daily reality can help to regulate the nervous system to receiving it. Becoming comfortable with the desire, as if it is a good friend, and noticing the ways it changes shape can reveal even further clarity into our personal nature, relationships and expression in the world.