“Unhappiness is in not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it. ”
“If this is coffee, please bring me tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced the above feelings.
So many of us (even Abraham Lincoln!) have a hard time knowing what we want. What’s worse – once we figure it out, we have an even harder time asking for – and getting – the things we want. Not only is this frustrating, but it becomes the source of much unhappiness (see above), and ultimately, self-pity. And who among us hasn’t indulged in a pity party when something didn’t go our way?
This happened to me very recently. After much planning and anticipation, I was forced to cancel one of my Hiking With Intention group hikes due to circumstances beyond my control (a war!). During the same week, as rockets rained down on Israel, we had to run to our bomb shelter on a number of occasions. And on top of all of that, I had to deal with a case of lice, courtesy of my son’s daycare – which he promptly shared with me.
It was all very overwhelming.
Naturally, I felt sorry for myself for being in such an awful situation.
When we feel sorry for ourselves, we often avoid our feelings on a deeper level. Instead of recognizing and being with our inner feelings, we project outward. In other words, we try to blame the circumstances, or the other people involved, so that we don’t have to deal with our own feelings of discomfort.
What do you really want?
This time around, I chose to take a different approach in dealing with my situation. I asked myself a simple question. What do you want, Barbara? I was able to answer very easily, and it made all the difference in the world.
In asking myself this very basic question, I actually created an opening for a shift to occur. Perhaps I wasn’t sure which way to turn at first, but I realized there new (alternative) possibilities that were available to me. What I wanted was not so hard to come by and I could ask for it. For starters, I wanted help, help with changing the sheets, help with the lice treatments (I wear glasses and can hardly see them) and I wanted to stay home where I felt safe. Our apartment has a bomb shelter and at home, I felt prepared to deal with a possible attack. I know that the chance to get hit is slim but I didn’t want to be caught with it on the Highway or at someone else’s home. Home is where I wanted to be and this is what I did.
Be flexible. Be patient.
Take the time to be flexible and patient with yourself and the process. Whichever way you ask the question, your own version of the “What do I want?” may look like this:
- How do I want to feel?
- What do I want to get out of this situation?
- What do I need to learn?
- What do I want from this person or myself?
My takeaway from my recent experience? When you feel stuck on any level, take the time to answer your own question and see if the new information you generate helps you create a shift. Rather than repeatedly telling yourself what you don’t like about the situation, be honest with yourself, and let yourself know what you do want.
Knowing what we want is a crucial step in getting resolution, and ultimately, becoming happier with our day-to-day lives.