Do you know what you want? Do you actually? If the answer is ‘yes’, and it’s ‘yes’ all or most of the time then you are very lucky. Being on a sabbatical has made me realise that most of the time I don’t actually have a clue what I want. As in – yes I know what I want out of life (broadly speaking, health, happiness, relationships…the same as everyone else I guess) and I know that I want to go on holiday, or win the lottery… like doh! But what I don’t know, most of the time, is what I actually want to do now, in this moment.
One small example – I have noticed that recently when I’m hungry I haven’t a clue what I want to eat. I go through all the options in my head and nothing jumps out at me. I got stuck in Sainsbury’s the other day with an empty basket wandering the store for ages wracked with confusion and looking like a mad woman. When I try to just make a quick decision I start to panic I will regret my decision later. Ridiculous! Or so I thought.
It’s not just with simple things like meals either. It is literally a case of noticing that in any given moment, although I have a range of things I could be doing I don’t know what I actually want to do. I have never experienced this before, having always been a super decisive and driven person. I have made some quite bold decisions about my life in the past, such as becoming a mature student, leaving jobs, moving and relationships and would never have described myself as indecisive. So what is going on?
Needless to say I have talked this through at therapy and discovered the following. Having been so used to making decisions about and for everyone else (mainly at work), I have literally had almost no practice in asking myself what I want. For the last few years anyway, I have not taken the time to actually look into myself, find out what I want and, crucially, just do it there and then. (I am not a Mum yet, and ’nuff respect to everyone who is, but I am fully certain this is how an awful lot of Mums go through life, not to mention putting husbands, partners, elderly parents, stressful jobs and other responsibilities before their own needs, the whole time). Anyway, if I ever have known something I want, I would very likely put it on the back burner and deal with someone else’s needs first. In time, this may very likely have led to me being practised at this and it has become a habit. And habits, as we all know, are difficult to break.
So here is my new goal. To live each day in the moment and to ask myself what I want and really listen.
Now I was worried (and sometimes still feel worried) that this method is entirely selfish and self-centred and would result in me learning to think only of myself. But my therapist assures me I just need to redress the balance and tip the scales back in my direction for a bit. She reckons a few weeks or months of practising listening to my needs in the moment will enable me to be generally more balanced and healthy when the time comes to return to work or ‘back to reality’.
So I am going to give this a go! So, what to do now…