"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." William Shakespeare
In response to my earlier posts that featured the value of having a clear intention, or a Possible Dream, I have heard from readers who are presently having difficulty knowing what they really want. Here, I am addressing this concern.
When I first started giving Consultations with people either meeting a turning point in their lives (usually vocation or relationship) or wanting to effect a life change, I discovered that the most popular time for such transitions is one or two years either side of a decade birthday - 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and even 80.
With the present global turbulence, it seems like the "heat is being turned up" on the pressure for personal transformation and living a better life, at any age.
"A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there." Meister Eckhart
If you are facing an unknown future at the moment and at a loss about how to go forward, the chances are that you are quite close to knowing what you want. If the question were not at the forefront of your mind, you would not be seeking an answer. So that is the good news. Behind the veil of unknowing and the clouds of confusion, you will recognize what is true for you. It could well be a step forward into greater meaning and life purpose.
Start by taking the pressure off yourself about having to know right now. Assume that beneath the surface, you do know what you want and be willing to be patient as it reveals itself to you. The process of discovery is both an inner one, through meditation, contemplation or reflection; and an outer one by being actively engaged in your life as it is now.
"It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come." HH The Dalai Lama
Perhaps the greatest challenge at a time of transition is maintaining a resourceful frame of mind so that you stay open to new opportunity and ideas. What does having a positive attitude mean for you? How can you feel expansive and energized, as if you are already living a richly rewarding, purposeful life?
Deep down, you do know what you want.
Experiment with these suggestions for knowing what you now want:
1. Physical Activity
This could be an energetic workout in the gym; a brisk walk in nature; dancing to upbeat music - my favourite is cleaning windows - they are quite large! While your body is working out, inwardly chant as a mantra:
I know what I want
The purpose here is to disengage your mind from trying to work things out and become open to the messages from your heart.
"Each man has his own vocation; his talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Take some time and space away from your normal activity to be in an environment that inspires you; listening to music that brings you peace; looking at pictures or images that awaken your heart. Again, allow yourself to entertain the possibility:
I know what I want
"It's important to ask yourself, How am I useful to others? What do people want from me? That may very well reveal what you are here for." James Hillman
3. Be Open
In a relaxed way, become mindful and conscious of the ways life is presenting itself to you. Observe the clues that life gives you. Allow yourself to follow your intuition and do things spontaneously, just because they feel right to do. You might find yourself drawn to reading a book a friend has recommended; glancing through a magazine while waiting for a dental appointment; switching to a tv programme you do not usually watch; an overheard conversation.
Enjoy and be grateful for your life, just the way it is now. Focus on the goodness and blessings already present, in and around you.
"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power." Lao Tzu
4. Be Loving
Times of unknowing can be frustrating and dispiriting. When you least feel like taking care of yourself is when you most need it. This is a tremendous moment for self-mastery, such that no matter what is going on, you maintain your centre of balance, caring and self-acceptance.
Take care to get enough rest; to eat healthily; to drink plenty of water - great for clearing negative emotions. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
I wish you the grace to lead a life, better than you could ever have imagined, and the understanding that you are worthy to enjoy it.
What talents and gifts have been lying dormant in you? What would you really love to be doing now that you have not allowed yourself so far? If your life could be truly fulfilling, what would that be like for you? I would love to hear from you.