I want to be healthy.
I want to be less anxious.
I want to start being more positive.
I want to slow down.
I want to open up more.
I want to take the next step.
One of the joys of working as a therapist is getting to hear people voice what it is that they actually want out of life; there are few other circumstances where we get to say these things out loud without consequence or contingency. But sometimes, when we really get into the work, we may come to the realization that we do not want this, that, or the other, but we want to want this, that, or the other. We wish there was a natural desire pulling us closer to our supposed goal…
We want to want to be healthy.
We want to want to be less anxious.
We want to want to start being more positive.
We want to want to slow down.
We want to want to open up more.
We want to want to take the next step.
It becomes a question of motivation. Where we can get derailed is in thinking that we’re eternally doomed by our lack of will to want.
The good news is that realizing we are not naturally inspired toward a change gives us some room to explore. We can take a step back, look at the goal and gauge how important it feels for us. Identifying the importance strips away all of the shoulds, musts, and have-to’s and gets us in touch with how this goal really resonates with us. Noticing a lack of real want also gives us the opportunity to assess our readiness and willingness. Even if the goal is incredibly important for us, is it a realistic goal at this time?
To give a small example, a couple years ago I decided I wanted to be more organized and after of few weeks of mild effort and a discussion with a good friend, I realized that more than wanting to be more organized I wanted to want to be more organized. When I thought it through I figured out that while having a less cluttered work and living space was very important to me, making this change amid the circumstances was a little (how shall we say…) crazy: over the course of two months our family had moved, my daughter had become totally mobile, my husband had gone back to school and changed his rotating work schedule, and I had begun a new part-time job with a new schedule. Some might say it was the perfect time to get organized. But knowing myself, I was very aware that I could not make any more major changes until some of the dust settled from these new transitions.
When I looked at it realistically, I not only cleared up some of my mental space but I also stopped shaming myself for having a less than perfectly pristine workspace. The real beauty of this situation was that I reaped another great benefit of exploring the will to want: I learned that as much as I wanted to want to be organized, what I really wanted was to simplify things.
Sometimes what we learn is that our actual desires lie in a slightly (or totally!) different direction. May you too be open to this exploration and the possibility of new directions!