Lately, I’ve been digging into the practice of knowing my truth; my wants, needs and desires. I’m frustrated that I keep getting stuck. Why do I find it so hard to put my finger on what I want and what I need? When someone asks me, I truly don’t have an answer. When I need to be able to say what’s bothering me or how to fix it, I come up blank.
I shared my frustration with a trusted friend, worried that I must be broken. She confided that instead of doing the vulnerable work of acknowledging her desires, she often defers to anyone who will make decisions for her because it keeps the other person happy and she can avoid conflict. She’s found that over time, it’s hampered her ability to do the hard work of thinking through what she wants. When faced with a situation where she knows she needs to articulate a concern or frustration or a need, she will sit quietly in her resentment and blame the other person for making a decision she doesn’t agree with.
When faced with a situation where she knows she needs to articulate a concern or frustration or a need, she will sit quietly in her resentment and blame the other person for making a decision she doesn’t agree with.
Her words hit me like a freight train! No wonder I experience insecurity and resentment around stronger personalities. They can say what they want, make quick decisions, and move forward with a solid plan. I often need more time to think through all the options before I can decide.
My lack of knowing what I want makes me feel insecure, frustrated and stuck in a pattern of creating unhealthy relationships. I honestly feel like an idiot.
Authenticity is messy isn’t it?
I’m also reminded that authenticity takes work. Even though God created me to be the kind of woman who carefully contemplates decisions, can’t immediately articulate my needs and requires time to consider all the options before moving forward, I don’t have to stay in this place of deferring to other people just to keep the peace. I have the ability to build the muscle of identifying exactly what I want in the amount of time I need.
My friend shared two exercises she does regularly to build her muscle of knowing herself better.
- Brainstorm a list of 100 things that are true for you. They can be activities you enjoy. Preferences like winter vs summer, being outside vs. being inside, sitting quietly vs. music always playing in the background. The list can include what you believe and what you don’t believe. Go crazy, keep writing go past 100. Just keep digging deep. Keep the list handy, add to, contemplate it.
- Choose two activities to do today. They are just for you. Some may be big, like take an afternoon to go to your favorite store or they could be small like watch your favorite show on TV or make your favorite meal. You may prefer to be around friends or family. Invite them to come along. The point of this exercise is to recognize a preference and make it happen.
You may find, as I did, you will get triggered. Often, we push our wants and desires down because they trigger shame or disapproval. You will come across wants, desires and preferences you are afraid to write down. Maybe your best friend or significant other hates an activity you really love. Maybe you grew up learning taking a day of rest is stupid or only lazy people do that. Maybe you think, “nobody could love a person that likes to do this.” Pay attention to the thoughts in your head as you write your list. Write it down even if you think you shouldn’t. Nobody is going to see this list but you. Write the item on your list, make a note of any trigger emotions and move on.
Pay attention to the thoughts in your head as you write your list. Write it down even if you think you shouldn’t.
I have found that I’m more easily able to identify a want or a desire more quickly because I have taken the time to pre-decide what’s important to me. I’m learning myself better and taking responsibility for my truth. Be encouraged that God made you uniquely and specifically for a purpose. He does not want us hiding behind other people’s approval. He created us to let our righteousness shine like the dawn, to be a lamp on a hill. When you start to put more of your whole authentic self out in the world, people around you will see more of God shining through you.