As yet another generation of women raised to be non-demanding and selfless, here’s a detoxing truth we all need: our desires matter. In a society that fails to ever say it out loud, we grow up trained to play a socially desirable gender role while getting disconnected from our own fading desires. Somewhere between being a perfect child, parent, friend, partner, lover, employee, and citizen can we still get hold of our fullest emotional self wired to pursue personal pleasures?
Why Knowing What You Want In Life Is Crucial
Be it in a career or the bedroom — humans are driven by desire. Wishing for something is an essential condition for things to happen in life. Simply put, if you constantly repress your desires or don’t know what you want, you will experience many things that you don’t want: boring jobs, wrong partners, bad sex, wasted time, and — ultimately — bitter regrets.
Our desires are our uniqueness — they shape us, define our personal happiness and give us a taste of life. The more we know and accept them, the less we feel the need to conform to other people’s desires that don’t match ours. Our own desires put first become the most important voices that lead our decisions. Understanding what we truly want — and going for it — increases our self-worth. Naturally, when we place value on what we want, others become attracted to that energy as well.
How to Discover Your True Desires
In a fast-paced world where it’s so easy to become detached from our authentic selves, discovering what you truly want can be a challenging journey but an extremely rewarding one. Self-exploration will help you find paths that you want to pursue and that will make you happier.
Reconnect with your past
If your sense of self and purpose got lost due to long-term emotional abuse, reflect on your life before this relationship: the people you would spend time with and activities you enjoyed.
Try to reconnect with people who remember the “old” you to remember all the things that make you feel happy and give you meaning. Return to your true self – the person you once used to be.
Identify your values
Our values determine our priorities and make us who we are. Acting against what you believe matters most in life is usually a recipe for unhappiness. But, of course, values may change over time, which is why it’s good to regularly revisit things that give meaning to your life, especially when it feels out of balance.
To discover what truly matters to you, analyze the times, experiences, or people that made you feel most satisfied, fulfilled, proud and happy. There are things in life that light you up, and the values that these activities give you are likely the values you cherish the most. Choose your core values, and they will eventually shape your desires.
Shed the layers
The puzzle of self may be one you’ll never be fully finished solving, so sometimes the simplest way to go about exploring your true identity is to approach it the other way around — by exploring who you are not.
Try to identify how your cultural and family background, past experiences, and people around have affected your present and why. Which beliefs and behaviors are truly yours and which were adopted from others? How were your goals shaped? Are you trying to meet someone else’s expectations? Finding what distinguishes you from the rest will help you get to know your unique self and understand where your desires really came from.
Record & track
Being a product of our life experiences, we can use lifelogging as a tool to learn about areas of our life that used to slip out of sight.
Do you live a full enough life to have something to write about at the end of the day? Who do you spend time with and why? How much time do you spend on things that support your goals? Capturing the memories that fade oh-so fast, your daily experiences and emotions, and all sorts of ideas and thoughts crossing your mind can write you a fascinating story to reflect on.
Lifelogs give you an incredible chance to look back at everything that has led up to now and see things from a different perspective. As you reflect on your good days and your bad days, your fears and hopes, you may see clearly how to make room for your true desires.
Get in touch with yourself – literally
The mind-body connection is an essential part of self-discovery. Accepting your unique longings is impossible without accepting yourself completely, just the way you are. Negative body image is a complex experience that can make you feel disconnected from yourself both emotionally and physically. If you want to feel comfortable in your own skin, you should make your body feel good, loved, and taken care of.
Practicing awareness within your body through regular gentle and kind self-touching, mindful breathing, massage, or masturbation can help you connect to yourself on a deeper level. You may also explore some holistic therapies that are based on working with the body to help you solve emotional blockages and expand into your whole authentic self.
Why Do We Abandon Our Desires?
In short, fears hold people back in life more than anything else. The fear of things not working out in our favor, negative feelings, lack of self-confidence, or self-doubt often make us give up on what we want. A person’s upbringing can also make them push down their desires. If they were taught certain traits such as people-pleasing to an extreme degree or could not express their emotions, that could follow them into adulthood. In the same manner, toxic or one-sided relationships contribute to an unsupportive environment which can tremendously decrease a person’s self-worth and negatively impact how they manifest what they desire in every area of their life.
The Power of Giving Yourself Permission
Seeking permission is a habit we’ve been taught from early childhood — a habit that sticks — sometimes for longer than we’d like. Well, the good news is, you are the one in charge of yourself now, and yours is the only permission you ever really need.
There is great freedom in granting yourself permission to live your desires. Research has repeatedly proven that our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and emotions are all interconnected. Shutting up your inner critic and dealing with the mental blocks that are stopping you from getting anywhere can be your first steps towards achieving what you really want in life. It is a form of self-love that sets your intention and helps you increase your self-worth.
Give yourself permission to:
- explore, try, fail, and change your mind — as many times as it takes to achieve fulfillment;
- be unique and different;
- respect your own preferences;
- not do something just because it’s expected of you;
- cut negative people out of your life;
- not give in to everyone else’s demands and wants;
- turn up the volume of your own values and desires.
This is not something respectable society tends to profess, but healthy selfishness can go a long way toward helping you live authentically and happily. If you don’t want to once realize, looking back at your life, that you’ve sacrificed too much, here are the steps to take to identify and manifest your desires:
- Learn to be selfish. It doesn’t mean you start being inconsiderate and self-centered. Putting yourself first can actually benefit your relationships with other people. Just let all aspects of your life regain some balance.
- Take care of your needs first to have the energy to pour into all areas of your life and respond to the needs of those around you.
- Don’t compromise your sexual pleasure (even if everything else in your relationship is going fine) – physical intimacy plays a huge role in a person’s happiness. As Stephen Snyder, MD, a sex and relationship therapist, suggests, it works best when each partner advocates their own sexual desires. Erotic selfishness can produce a deep feeling of connection. Seeing your partner totally caught up in the moment, enjoying themselves deeply with you, is a huge turn-on. Deciding that you’ll enjoy partner sex more with a vibrator is just another expression of this principle.
- Whenever asking for– and getting what you want makes you feel uncomfortable or guilty (which happens a lot because weeding out those deep-rooted beliefs can be challenging), just keep reminding yourself the following: your life is yours and no one else’s and that’s the only life you have. You don’t have to earn the right to live it the way you actually want — you are worthy by default.
- Be true to yourself, trust your gut and follow your heart wherever it leads you — it’s the best way to find fulfillment.
Truly, taking the time and effort to identify and manifest your desires will be an experience you won’t regret. It will help your self-esteem, improve your bedroom life, help you become a better partner, and the best version of you. But, most importantly, by embracing your own likes, desires, and dreams you embrace your identity, accept who you are, and make life happen for you, not to you.