This question, which may appear selfish at first, is one that can shed light on just about any situation or problem that we’re facing.
It can help us make up our mind about tricky decisions. It can help us prioritise when faced with an overflowing to-do list. And it can improve any and every relationship we’re in.
When I tell you this question in a moment you are going to know it so well and yet for many people it poses problems.
Either they can’t really get in touch with it or for some reason can’t seem to apply it to themselves and their lives (it’s much easier to do for other people of course).
Or they hold it so so tightly that nothing can move.
So what is this question?
~ The most important question we can ask ourselves ~
*** What do I really want? ***
As I said above it can appear selfish. But this is only if we ask it in the habitual way that most of us do.
In this case we ask the question and because of a lack of clarity, a fear of the changes that a true response might demand or simple laziness we just go with a superficial response.
This is totally normal and something we all do. But to really access the power of this question we have to go beneath the surface, and this is why the question is ‘What do I REALLY want?
The addition of this one word ‘really is the key that opens the door to something deeper than what is apparent on the surface.
~ Two types of desire ~
The reason it does this is because we have two types of desire.
The first type of desire comes from our limited self.
This is much more our day to day everyday self and the one that we normally access when we ask this question.
We need this self. We cannot function in the world without it, and yet because of it’s limitations it doesn’t have much capacity to bring us into a state of deep clarity.
This is partly because it is made up out of past experiences (childhood, school, relationships and if you think that way ancestral, karmic and cultural influences).
But it is also because it is so closely associated with thinking. Thinking is the big ‘sense-maker’, the generator of the narrative that links experiences together and creates meaning.
The problem is that because it is made out of the past it dosesn’t really allow anything truly new. It just recycles past information over and over and over again.
This is very safe but doesn’t really offer a possibility of a different future. We just get what we have always got.
Again and again and again.
~ The second type of desire is creative ~
The second type of desire is different. It comes from outside of our thinking.
It is the image that floats to you on the scent of a summer’s breeze.
The spontaneous flash of laughter that comes when you hear something truly funny.
Or the insight, clarity and solutions that come in a eureka moment.
This second type of desire is the one where our sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and purpose become available to us.
It is the one that makes us feel as if we have a place and a role in the universe rather than being cut off and isolated from it.
It is available to us the whole time, but we mostly ignore it. Why?
Because there is a mistake that most people (including me) regularly make that blocks us from experiencing this second type of desire.
~ The one mistake to understand ~
It’s often not a conscious thing but so often we actively block out this second type of desire.
There are actually many reasons- denial, avoidance, fear- all of these can stop us listening to this other type of desire.
But the main one comes down to a misunderstanding.
We think we are the ones that have the power to create this second type of desire.
In fact we are. It’s just that we are normally looking to the limited self to do it and the limited self is simply not able to do so.
The limited self cannot open to the future or to anything truly new. It can only make little shifts within its own sphere of understanding.
To make a shift that allows the second type of desire to come to conscious awareness we have to let go of the limited self.
And this is why it’s so scary. For the limited self it becomes a question of survival.
When we understand this however we have an opportunity to, as Goethe put it, ‘Die to a higher birth.’
By letting go and surrendering just for a moment we allow something bigger, larger and wiser to be present in our awareness.
We allow ourselves to experience our inner being and the creativity and wisdom that reside there.
~ Our true desire is an invitation to step into our fullest potential ~
The question ‘What do I really want?’ is one of the simplest and most useful ways to bring this understanding of these two types of desire into our lives and to start exploring how they work and what they can do for us.
When we work with this question at the very leastt we find out more about what we want so we can shape our world to be more as we’d like it.
And at best, it is an invitation into an experience of the beauty, wisdom, clarity and purose that is our fullest potential.