Sometimes I think of all the things I could’ve been, could’ve chosen but didn’t. Not with regretful longing but with a curiosity of what might have been if I hadn’t heard my own voice louder than society’s blitz.
Such as the night I was studying with a college mate while she bar-tended and I inadvertently met the father of my children. Or the time I nervously wrote an email to someone I’d met just once but intuitively felt compelled to know better; he’s now one of my best friends. What if I’d been too timid to email or been overly insular with that college mate?
Many adults don’t actually choose things—at least not from the heart—because they can’t hear their Selves. They live by default, going with what’s nearest or easiest instead of from existing eagerness and, regrettably, they teach their kids the same strategy.
With my clients, the most common dilemma—besides loneliness/emptiness, which is directly tied to what I’m discussing—is that they don’t know what they really want.
It is difficult to differentiate since most aren’t raised to come from the inside out but from the outside in, becoming prey to recurrent worlds of advertising, movies, TV, etc. bombarding them with ‘wants.’ The real truth is that inauthentic wants—even if they’re great for others—will never fill that hole.
I also repeatedly encounter a cellular fear-memory of eschewing wants for dread of rejection, ridicule or even abuse; they’d learned it was safer to settle. Unfortunately, settling is like breathing through one congested nostril: you get enough air to survive but it’s not sufficient to live.
Many people ‘deep-six’ who they intrinsically are before the age of two. Later they squander large amounts of money and time traversing the world in search of the perfect place to live, the ideal mate, the extreme experience, the ‘right’ career, ad nauseum, or they suffocate their spirit with diverse addictions.
Until they can’t. That’s when they show up in my chair and devote lots of energy and years peeling off life’s opaque paint trying to uncloak their original Selves.
For this reason I routinely ask these clients to go back to childhood enthusiasms as that’s where genuine wants were abandoned for approval and/or survival. Those desires have usually changed form but the sincere yearning is ‘vibrating’ nearby.
For instance, my first encounter with art, beauty and philosophical Truth was in the catholic church and I was awed. From that, I wanted to know everything. So—at age three—I decided I wanted to be god. (I dream big) My older brothers scoffed and dismissed that idea outright and, sadly, I accepted their elder “wisdom” as impossible.
Well, they were wrong. I muffled that want for two decades, but when it resurrected—guess what? I found ‘god’ within, and she’s one voice-y little hellcat who surrounds herself with animals, flowers, art, books and music and takes big, deep non-catholic breaths.