Another Spice Girls reference probably doesn’t bode well for me if I’m aiming for an uptick in readers…
This is part three in my “Important Questions” series. As a quick review, the first question was:
Who are you?
And the challenge was to consider who it is you are, right now, in this moment, on the inside. What are the characteristics you possess and what are the roles you are filling that make you uniquely you? Honesty is key here, as is answering this in the present context, not based on the labels of your past or the hopes you have for your future self. Right now, and to your core, Who are you?
The second question that we asked was:
Where are you?
And for this, the encouragement was to take a pause, look around, and determine where we stand, right now. Within that, we want to consider how where we are now, stacks up to where we thought we were, or where we hoped we’d be, or where we originally planned on being.
This should be done without judgement. For example, looking around and comparing our lives (where we are) with our “perfect plan” or the Instagram lives that we desire, or the lives of our friends who “have it all together” is not healthy, productive, or part of our plan. Stay away from comparing. Just answer the question,
Where are you?
You can move later. Right now, just be honest with where you are standing.
And the third question, which I find very powerful, and also very challenging to answer (out loud), is:
What do you want?
This is really interesting to me, because this questions overflows with both great simplicity and great challenge. I’m not sure why there is so much difficulty in answering this question. For me, there is a hesitation in saying what I want, perhaps because there is a hint of a feeling of selfishness or greed when talking about what I want. Perhaps I’ve been conditioned not to focus so much on what I want, that when I’m forced to think about it directly, it doesn’t flow out easily.
When I was asked the question recently, I found myself embarrassed to fully answer the question. So I just bunted, and said something very safe so that I couldn’t be judged.
I just want to be more connected with my family.
I do want that. But it was an answer that I gave because I knew (or thought) that the people around me would be okay with the answer. Who can fault a guy who wants to be closer to his family? It was a very safe answer, but not a very honest one.
We need to be honest with our hopes and dreams.
Recently I posed this to a friend of mine, who is battling a bit with the Where are you? question.
And he, much like I had, sort of stumbled around with his answer. As (or before, really) the question is being answered, there are immediate explanations and qualifications of the answer. So much so, that it was a little hard to determine what the answer is.
Do you remember when you were dating, in maybe high school, and you really liked the person? Maybe you were better than me, (or better than my dates) but there was that period of time when you were trying to impress, and overly please, so you hesitated to fully express yourself or your opinion. So when you asked them, or they asked you, “Where do you want to eat?” or “What do you want to do?” “What’s your favorite color?” you didn’t really get a straight, honest answer.
Whatever YOU want to do is fine with me.
It doesn’t matter what we do, I just want to spend time with you.
What’s your favorite color? MINE TOO!!!
And without an honest answer, we can’t help each other move towards what we want.
I don’t think that later, after we get married, and we are no longer in that pursuit phase, that we are just being lazy or less loving. I think we are usually just being more honest.
Yes, I want to spend time with you, I would just prefer not to do it at a trailer park at your weekend long family reunion. (True story)
As long as it’s done in love, this honesty doesn’t separate, it brings us closer. Being more known, particularly in our intimate relationships, is a powerful thing. I think that when we get married we don’t become one right away, begin a journey of becoming one together, and it takes time. And the way that we become closer is to know each other more. And the way that we know each other more is by sharing more of who we are and what we want, without qualification.
So back to my friend,
What do you want?
do you know what he finally said…. A dog.
That may sound silly to you, but I thought it was great! He told me exactly what he wanted. That was followed by more details, but the essence of his answer was this:
He is living such a busy existence that he doesn’t have time for some of the simple things that he really enjoys. Right now (where are you?) he wants to walk his dog and come home to his dog, and use his dog to meet single women (I added the last part. It was left unsaid but I knew…)
But he was honest, and that was great. And I hope you’ll be honest too. One of the worst things that we can do, is to leave what we want unsaid. Because when we leave what we want unsaid, it makes it difficult for us to be fully known. And being fully known is one thing that I think we are all longing for.
So my encouragement to you is twofold.
One, take some time to think about what it is you really want. For me, when I get frustrated, or feel stuck in a current situation, it is incredibly helpful for me to stop and figure out what it is I really want.
When I get frustrated with something that my wife has done, the easy thing is for me to go and stew and be angry, and think about how angry and stewy I am. The only problem with this approach, is that it always makes things worse, and leads to nothing close to a solution. The challenging thing for me is to stop and determine what it is that I actually want. Like “Why are you angry?” but deeper. More like, “What did she say/do that made you so upset, and what would you want her to say/do in that situation in the future?”
That’s tough, because it’s easier to just sulk around feeling misunderstood. And she should understand me because she’s my wife, and what’s her problem for not understanding me, and I’m so tired of being misunderstood all of the time in my own house (I go down the rabbit hole fast).
However, as tough as it is to answer that question myself, the tougher part is actually telling someone else what I want. In this situation, my wife. Not that she can or should always do what I want, that’s not the point. But the odds of her understanding me and doing or responding how I’d like increase exponentially when she actually knows what it is that I want.
So we need to first answer that question for ourselves. Until we are honest with ourselves in pinpointing that answer, we are going to carry around the frustration of not being known, and we will likely continue to move forward in the wrong direction.
And then we need to unashamedly and without a great deal of explanation (at least initially) share that answer with those who love and support us. Until we are willing to share what it is we want in life, relationships, career, etc., nobody will be able to help us get there.
You may remember this quote that I shared a while back:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
As much respect as I have for Paulo Coelho, I actually think this quote stinks a little bit. The universe isn’t working overtime to give us everything that we want, or maybe anything that we want. I just don’t think it works that way.
But we must say it out loud, first to ourselves, and then to our loved ones and co-conspirators, so that they can help us. And they will (co)conspire to help us achieve it, once they know what it is.
Who are you?
Where are you?
What do you want?
Let me know if I can help.