I think there are some really useful questions to ask yourself once in awhile: What do you want, and why do you want it? And what would you do if you weren’t concerned about what other people might feel, or think, or do in response? Just so you’re clear, and not necessarily so you’ll turn your entire life on its head. Although maybe that would be a good thing in some cases.
If you start thinking honestly about what you want, from the mundane, to those big dreams you might not share with anyone, you’ll really learn a lot about what’s driving you. And sometimes what’s driving you, and me, and everyone else, has been programmed, and underneath the seeming motivators, you will almost always find two things: you want to be happy, and you want to be loved. Why do you want to lose ten pounds (if you do)? So you’ll feel better and really feel the feeling of taking good care of yourself? (The feeling of loving yourself and treating yourself well?) Or so that you’ll look better and attract someone? Either way, love is driving you, or unhappiness with yourself the way you are (translation: you believe you’ll be happy if you lose this weight. But if you aren’t happy already, it’s not going to work. You’ll lose ten pounds, and think, “Hmmm, maybe ten more would do it? And ten more. And maybe I should just stop eating?”).. If you want to lose ten pounds but don’t need to, then chances are you’re trying to control your life, because maybe things feel out of control (they are), and you’re struggling with that reality. You want to be happy, at peace. If you want a lot of money, think about why. So you can live in a huge house and drive a particular car and buy whatever you’d like, and attract someone amazing, because that’s the kind of money you need in order to do that? That’s certainly what we’re taught, but it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Do you know people with an insane amount of money? Do you truly believe things make people happy, or that any relationship based on your ability to buy things will bring you joy? Can you cuddle with a car? Can you make someone feel loved if you throw enough money at them? As long as you’ve got a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator, exponentially more money is not going to make you exponentially more happy.
What would you do if you weren’t confined by what other people expect you to do? Would you get off the path you’re on? Carlos Castaneda has a gorgeous quote, “A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.Then ask yourself alone, one question. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.” Sometimes people realize many years in, they’ve been working a plan for all the wrong reasons. To live up to some ideal. To please other people. Or because the plan used to fit, but no longer does. Abandoning a plan can be very painful. Resistance is likely to come from within, and from those around you. But if you know in your heart it’s not the right plan, you must let it go and find a different plan, a new one.
Sometimes people feel afraid to ask themselves these questions. “What would I do if I wasn’t concerned about what other people would feel?”. Maybe you’re stopped dead in your tracks by that one, because you’re in a committed relationship, but if you didn’t feel confined, you’d pursue someone else on the side. Look at that, don’t act on it. Figure out what’s happening. Do you feel taken for granted? Are you bored? Do you feel trapped? Angry? When you act on feelings without examining them, you miss a huge opportunity to know yourself better, and deeply. And knowing yourself will bring you so much peace, whereas acting blindly on feelings without examining them will bring you pain. Perhaps it’s time for a conversation with your partner. Maybe you need to regroup, to get honest, to start seeing each other and hearing each other again. Maybe you’re suffering under the delusion that you know everything there is to know, as in, “I’ve got your number. I’ve known you for years. Snore.” But we are all always changing, always in process, always growing. The person you were five years ago is almost definitely very different from the person you are today, just as there is always the possibility of knowing your partner deeply, honoring her or his own growth, observing the changes, and seeing someone you’ve known for years with fresh eyes and an open heart. Or maybe the truth is your relationship can’t be saved. The truth of a thing is always better than living a lie. Than sleepwalking.
As much as possible, clarity is the thing. Knowing yourself, understanding what lights you up and feeds your soul, what sets you on fire, what’s driving you, is really key. Because love and happiness come from within. If you keep searching outside yourself, you’ll never be at peace. And although we’re all unique and human and have our own particular gifts to share, although we have to find our own paths, as Hafiz understood, “When all your desires are distilled; You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy.” What’s stopping you? Sending you love, as always, Ally