Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Harold Whitman
Many years ago, I attended a workshop on “connecting with your hearts desire.” The facilitator instructed us (when faced with a choice of what to do) to sit down with a piece of paper and write out all our options.
“Make a two column list with all the pros and cons for each potential choice” she said, “and when you are done with your list, tear up the paper and do what your heart calls you to do!”
In other words, the most important question we needed to be asking ourselves was "What is my heart calling me to do?"
This little interchange got me thinking about the whole issue of needs. And wanting. And how do we think and feel and respond to our longings and spontaneous wishes.
How many of us play devil’s advocate with ourselves, second guessing the inner voice that whispers in our ear. How many of us don’t have confidence in our desires, and will (sadly) push them back underground where they can't threaten us with their hungry insistence?
But why? Why is it so hard to just joyfully accept our desires? To feel excited and not so skeptical when they appear?
“BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT!!”
One of the big stumbling blocks around embracing our desires is feeling blank or blocked when confronted with the question "What do I want?" You might get so far as knowing that you want something, but you convince yourself that you really have no ideas regarding what that something might be.
This is a lie. You always, always, always know what it is that you want.
It's just that sometimes the thing that you are yearning for is really scary because getting it means you will be changing the status quo in your life in a big way. So you unconsciously block the true awareness of what your heart is yearning for.
When you are feeling totally baffled around your desires and are caught up in believing the fiction that you really and truly just don't have a clue, try asking yourself this question:
"What is it that I am too afraid to want right now?" and see what shows up. And then ask yourself “Why am I so afraid?”
Having needs is not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of, but it often makes people very uncomfortable because it goes against the grain of a lot of internalized messages that advocate NOT expressing our needs or desires.
We talk ourselves out of what we want by telling ourselves that our needs are petty or unimportant. We convince ourselves that we can do without it because under no circumstances do we want anyone to know that we are dissatisfied, or that we want more. We don't want to be seen as selfish or demanding.
Most of the time what we are really doing is protecting ourselves. If we keep our desires invisible we won't risk being disappointed or heartbroken if we try for something that we're not sure we can actually have.
OK. OK. I'LL ASK. BUT ONLY IF I KNOW FOR SURE THAT THE ANSWER IS YES
Of course, there is no guarantee that you will get something just because you want it. But you for SURE won't even come close to it if you never even try.
The real secret around the whole issue of longing is that getting what we want isn't really the most important thing. The empowerment is in the longing itself. We are already feeding our deepest sense of aliveness by simply allowing ourselves to FEEL the wanting. To HAVE the wanting. To make space for it to even exist.
Our longing and our wanting gets us in the door - it propels us forward - it gets us engaged with our lives. When we follow our desires we are saying a big old YES to the journey, not necessarily to the destination.
We get ourselves in trouble when we hold back our desires because we are afraid we will be disappointed. We want some kind of guarantee that if we want something we will get it exactly the way we see it all worked out in our minds.
And we miss out on getting things that we could have never even possibly dreamed up.
BUT WHAT I WANT IS REALLY WEIRD!!
Another way that we shut down our desire capability is by thinking that everything we want has to make some kind of sense. Or be socially redeemable. It has to be acceptable in one way or another. And to fit in with who we think we are or are supposed to be.
There is a level of desire that is by its very nature just goofy and wacky and fun. If we are really paying attention to what makes us happy, there are things that we want that can be kind of quirky and offbeat. It's related to the childlike part of who we are that is coming out to play.
The part of us that can love and trust the whimsical & magical self is more than willing to accomodate the other part of ourselves because it knows that doing so is feeding something deeply important and essential.
Which is the point to all of our longings ... whether they be serious or silly they are always leading us in one direction. They are always taking us closer and closer to our core authentic self, to our inner point of greatest aliveness and to our felt sense of being at home in our own skin.
Which is the only thing that we ever really want when you get right down to it.