THE Question

Whether you are on a first date or you have been married for twenty years, never stop asking yourself, “What do you want?” 

I know it’s not the easiest question to answer all the time but it’s the only one that matters, so start practicing. Do it right now. Close your eyes and ask yourself what you want. It could be anything from what you want to eat to your biggest career dreams to what you want to do with that cute waiter from the other day. Great. Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Not so fast, though. The tricky part is when what you want affects or includes another person. Most of us have gotten really good at managing our desire, manipulating it so it looks and sounds good, justifying it, rationalizing it, and figuring out the best way to approach it without making waves.

Desire is vulnerable. No wonder we try to dress it up, change it, ignore it. We fear judgment, we fear rejection, we fear disappointment. Sometimes the risk just doesn’t seem worth it.

The good news and the bad news is that what you want never goes away. 

You might change the way you feel about it, it may get overshadowed by another desire, or you might ignore it, but the raw desire at the instant it first hit you, never goes anywhere.

Ever been on a first date and not revealed what you actually want because you’re afraid you’ll seem strange, pushy, needy, bossy? You barely know this person, and you’re sure as hell not going to tell them how you’re dying to have really amazing sex or you’d rather be watching Mad Men than having this safe *yawn* first date conversation.

It’s the same story when you’re in a relationship. How often do you not *gulp* say what you want because you’re afraid the other person will flip out? Or thought, if you really love this person, why would you tell them about wanting a completely new kind of sex life or how you’d rather spend the weekend alone than with their parents? Exposing what you want is scary. We’ve been shut down and disappointed in the past so we’ve learned to hide our desire to keep things comfortable and keep ourselves likable.

I’m not saying that you have to go after every single thing that you want like a crazed animal. I’m not even saying that you have to reveal your desires to everyone. I am saying that your desires are yours and they’re valuable so treat them well, acknowledge them, listen to them as much as you can. What you want in one moment will inform you about who you are in the next and slowly but surely you will build the muscle of knowing what you want, then working to have what you want, then having what you want. Your desires will grow. You will inspire and surprise yourself. You’ll go on dates and you won’t have to pretend or you’ll be in a relationship and won’t have to lie. You’ll know who you are and you’ll know where you want to go.

The first step to working with your desire is to figure out what you actually want. 

You don’t have to do anything about your desires right away so don’t worry about what they are, how you could possibly have them, or what other people will think about them. Just start listening to yourself. Ask yourself what you want as much as possible. Put a reminder in your phone, write yourself a post it, tell a friend to text you “what do you want?” every day for a week. Want to share them with someone? Email them to me unedited.

Desire is not the easiest thing to navigate. There are consequences, reactions, and risks. But when all is said and done and you are looking back on your life, you will not like yourself if you didn’t listen to your desire. You can start small and start slow, but no matter what, start.

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1 comment
zb says July 18, 2011

And, a reminder: “It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” – Abraham Maslow

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