There is no doubt that being human is incredibly difficult and cannot be mastered in one lifetime. ~Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time
Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real. ~Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Time has always been an anxiety producer for me. I wrote a bit about that over on IG a while ago. Being on time, having enough time, spending quality time… all those things can send me into a bit of a tailspin of not enough, not enough, not enough.
Because a truth for me is, and for many I know, there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. There is always So Much To Do. There is always so much I Want To Do. There is always so much I Need To Do. There used to always be so much that Others Expected Me To Do but I left that list on the side of the road a long while ago.
Anyhow, all I need and want to do in any given day, never seems to fit into the 24 hours I have that particular day.
This has been leading me to consider what is truly important to me, what do I actually want to do and be doing with the time that I do have.
I’ve been slowly working through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map workbook to figure out what it is I do want, how I want to feel, in my work, in my life, where are my wants and needs and how am I meeting them and how am I not and how could I meet them more often and perhaps even better?
What is it that lights me up?, as Danielle asks.
It is one thing to know what I don’t want, what I want less of, what I don’t need or desire. I can find my clear no very easily. It is the finding the yes that can be a challenge for me.
Finding the yes is the vulnerable thing. Finding the yes is revealing. Finding the yes, the want, the need, the desire… that is when we put who we really are out there and on the line.
That is when we own who we are.
And that can be terrifying in so many ways.
Noes are less vulnerable. Noes don’t reveal a whole lot. They set a line, yes. They create a boundary, absolutely. They often close doors, of course. And those are such important things to be able to do, to be able to find and honor within ourselves.
When we start to look at those wants, those cravings, those needs… Well we are opening ourselves up to be told no – by others, by our culture, by the stories that whisper and scream inside our heads, by life itself.
Which then leaves us in the wanting or needing… and then what?
Well, I don’t honestly know, because I’m still at the stage of even acknowledging what my wants and needs are!
Here’s a thing: We have all been raised in a culture that tells us wanting is a sin and needing is a sign of weakness. And none of us dare to be sinners or weak.
This is part of Cultural Relational Trauma. It is part of what harms our psyches, what traumatizes us, what leaves us in a space of loneliness and disconnection from our Self and other humans.
This is our socialization. Our training. Our conditioning. It seeps into our minds and bodies and being.
It is not such an easy thing to shake. Because even when we know in our logic mind that these stories are all a bunch of crap, those messages have been ingrained and internalized. They have their own neuro-pathways in our brains, and they live in our own cellular and body systems memory. It takes intentional, mindful, and relatively consistent work to undo the training, to create new neuro-pathways that say “It is human to want; it is acceptable to want; wanting is part of living; needing is part of being reminded we are alive; asking for our wants and needs is part of our surviving and thriving.”
It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It takes mind work and body work. It is simple and complex. As one ingrained and internalized story is unraveled another will pop up. There will be days we are too tired, there will be days we are impatient, there will be days we simply don’t wanna.
There will be days where we look back and say, “Wow. That story doesn’t have the same grip it used to.” or “Holy heck I just used my words and asked for what I needed and I received it.” or “Woohoo I just allowed someone to care for me.”
This is the ebb and flow of this work.
It takes three to ten times more “positive” messaging to create a relatively permanent (knowing these are never truly permanent) neuro-pathway in comparison to what it takes to create a “negative thought” neuro-pathway.
Three to ten times. Three to ten times more effort, more intention, more practice.
Yes it takes work.
Yes it takes intentional time and energy.
And to have our wants and needs met, to begin to feel safe and at home in our bodies, to begin to thrive in our lives instead of only surviving… isn’t that worth the time and energy?
Aren’t you worth it? (Let me answer that for you, YES YOU ARE.)
May we all connect to our wants and needs, acknowledge them, embrace them, ask for them, and have them met.
Originally published on January 14, 2018 as a weekly newsletter and revised for publication here. Did you enjoy reading this? If so, I invite you to sign up to receive my weekly love letters right here.