I worked with a woman once who told me she wanted to get a divorce. When we talked a bit longer and I asked her what she really wanted she said she wanted a healthy, romantic relationship with her husband again.
I worked with a man who said he wanted to open his own bakery, but as we talked he really didn’t want (or need) to be that committed to daily work. When we uncovered what he really wanted, he was looking for connection to the community, relationships and the “feel good” of making people happy.
I worked with a woman who didn’t want to have sex with her husband anymore, but what she really wanted was to know she mattered to him and to feel like they were making love instead of having sex.
As you can see, in each of these cases, what the people thought they wanted and what they actually wanted were very different targets and both require totally different steps.
So often when we can’t figure out how to get what we really want, we unconsciously decide we want the opposite without questioning the truth. The problem is that we then put the wheels in motion to move in the direction of the very things we do not want.
Even in the realm of romantic choices, we are drawn toward the ups and downs of infatuation fluctuations, or we are driven by physical attraction, when often what we really want is the security and consistency of drama-free love.
So the invitation here is to “look before you leap.” Look within to examine what your spirit really wants. Examine not only your desires, but also your beliefs. When you think there is no path to a happier life except divorce, question that thought. Have you really explored all the options—including the path of personal responsibility?
I encourage you to draw a target of concentric rings and begin listing on it all the qualities you truly want in your life. You might find you list things like “happiness, love, integrity, respect, intimacy, financial security, purpose, family….”. You may even list specific goals like, “writing a book, or going on vacation.” Then consider the order that matters to you the most. What is your Bull’s Eye? What is most important to you?
For example, integrity and self-mastery may fall at the center of your target. Then family/relationships in the next ring out, then work or health. However, if you always prioritize your relationships over your work, your work may suffer. If you always prioritize your work over your relationships, your relationships may suffer. You will realize that your priorities may have to fluctuate.
Next, draw a picture of an iceberg (or simply label with the word) on another piece of paper. On it write all the things you don’t want. Your list may include things like, “illness, loneliness, poverty, addiction…”
Then post these two, your target and your bull’s eye, on opposite walls of your room. Notice which one you tend to move toward on a daily basis with your words, thoughts and actions.
Quite often when I guide people to do this exercise, they realize that they spend more of their consciously and unconsciously-driven time moving toward what they do not actually want. They don’t want addiction, but they consume substances daily. They don’t want meaningless relationships, but they jump quickly into bed. They don’t want poverty, but the don’t pay attention to their finances. Consequently, their lives crash into the “ice berg.”
Simply put, we need to “walk” in the direction of what we actually want. In order to do that though, we need to first explore our deepest truth. What do you really want?