RE: Self Autonomy Skills
Building a life filled with joy and great personal meaning can only happen when I answer this question honestly: “What Do I Want?”
Asking and answering the question has reshaped my life in big and little ways. It remains one of the all time favorite questions I use to pull myself out of a fog of indecision.
Often when I’m chatting with someone about the question, they say ‘It’s not that simple’ and I get it. Answering the question can be excruciating.
When I first started to ask the question in earnest about a decade ago, the answers frightened me. What I wanted and what I thought I could have were far apart in my mind. I worried about what other people would think. I was tangled up in competing interests. In all the years before I’d found my value in fitting into other people’s lives by being of service – which isn’t all bad – and isn’t all good.
When I thought what I wanted wouldn’t meet with approval, when I imagined feeling the weight of that disapproval coming down on me… suddenly I questioned what I wanted. My self protective ego stepped in to obfuscate, making it all fuzzy so that I would shrug and think ‘Well, I’m not sure what I want right now so I’ll just stick with the status quo.’
It was easier to let other people choose. It was more comfortable to make decisions that other people approved of. It felt temporarily validating to be agreed with – emphasis on temporary.
Looking back I was asking and answering a complicated version of the same question.
“What do I want that I think I can make work and get approval for and not be made fun ofor disrespected for and at the same time not risk the precious few important relationships and existing feelings of validation I have in my life?”
Believe it or not, that zentangle of a question worked for me in some weird ways. It created SOME of what I wanted for myself and others. It met needs in SOME ways. It built SOME of the life I wanted.
I won’t feel bad or even criticize that version of myself for finding a way to make things work. Considering my upbringing and the damage of my childhood, it’s a wonder I created anything at all of value in this world.
Knowing what I wanted and being willing to take bolder steps towards it, took internal work. I had to own my autonomy and this was deeply uncomfortable in the beginning. Heck, if I’m honest, it still is.
As Maya Angelou said, ‘When you know better, you do better.”
I know better today what I want. I’m better at answering the question for myself. I’m less wound up in the need for approval or validation and more willing to experience discomfort and criticism.
I create MORE of what I want for myself and others. I have built MORE of the life I want.
And I’ll keep leaning into the question 🥰
For More Inspiration:
Rita Wilson gave a want-provoking TedX talk about answering the question for herself.