What Do You Really Want To Say?
We all have those moments, when we tell ourselves that our motivation for doing something is simple, when really it’s much more complicated. We know what we want from a situation, deep down, but we are afraid to fully admit it, and so we tell ourselves that all we really want is just a snippet of what we really want. We tell ourselves that our reason for approaching a person or place or idea is simple, that it’s surface, superficial, and doesn’t matter, but that simple reason hides our inner desires and wants for how the interaction will turn out. These are times when we convince ourselves to take steps or actions toward something when we want more and know that we are highly unlikely to get it, the times when we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure, acting in such a way that is bound to cause hurt and is the opposite of mindfulness and authenticity.
Let me give you an example:
You miss your ex-boyfriend like crazy and have had a couple of glasses of wine. What you really want is for them to profess their undying love for you, but you tell yourself that your reason for texting them is just to say hello. If they respond, you attempt to be lighthearted and funny while also attempting to lead them into telling you they made a huge mistake and beg for you to come back to them. They don’t. You are hurt and angry. Of course if they don’t respond, you are also hurt and angry. The chances of them actually responding with a resounding, “I made the worst mistake and have just been sitting here waiting for you to say hello so that I can tell you how much I love you and beg for you to take me back,” are in the realm of the chances of getting hit by lightning after finding out you’ve won the lottery, while you are having a simultaneous orgasm with your partner on the beach and actually enjoying sex in the sand. It could happen, but it isn’t too damn likely. But you do it anyway, and you tell yourself that all you really wanted was to say hi. (Please tell me I am not the only person ever to do this)
I used to do this shit ALL THE TIME. I wasn’t even really aware I was doing it most of the time. Most of the time, for me, it had to do with romantic relationships—because that is the area of my life I most struggle with-- but it could be a friendship you are unhappy with, a familial tie that feels strained, or a work situation in which you are frustrated; it’s really all the same. We want more, but we think (or inherently know) that it’s not going to happen so instead of accepting that and moving on, we come up with some small reason to approach the person or situation and then get immensely irritated when it doesn’t go our way. Doing this, unsurprisingly, led to a lot of hurt, anger, resentment, and pain for me that was completely unnecessary and of my own doing, even though I didn’t own that at the time. Then a couple of years ago, in the middle of a breakup, my therapist called me on it and asked me, “What are your real motivations?” She challenged me to not reach out unless I had done some soul searching and reached deep down to find and admit to myself what the motivations were in doing so.
This has been a game changer in my life. It is the simplest thing, and yet, I cannot fully express how much pain and suffering this has alleviated for me (and probably for the poor folks I kept doing this to). Asking myself what I really want before communicating with or making plans with people in my life has allowed me to step back and take a breath before doing so, and when there is an ulterior motive, one of two things (almost always) happens now; I choose not to communicate with them, or I choose to directly communicate what I actually want from them. One might argue that telling an ex that you wish they would tell you they made a mistake and beg for you back is way more ridiculous than just telling them hello, and that it would be just as painful when respond negatively or not at all as it is when they don’t respond to a friendly hello text or do respond in a way you don’t like. It isn’t. Those people need to knock it off with the sideways talk and try it my way. Here’s why.
Owning your shit makes it easier to deal with. Being honest with yourself about what you want and the motivations behind your actions changes how you react to the outcomes of those actions. At the end of the day, when you own your truth, you get to sit in the knowledge that you showed up and were honest about it, even if you still don’t get what you want. Instead of throwing rubbing alcohol into a wound, you applied some nice healing ointment and a band aid. The wound is still there, but it starts to heal rather than feel like someone is tearing it open and burning it with a hot poker.
So… just try it. The next time you are feeling vulnerable, the next time you’re planning to do something that leaves you with a feeling of trepidation or fear, the next time you decide to text the ex… ask yourself what your real motivation is. What do you really, truly, want? And if it’s not just to say hello, put the phone down or type what you really want. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
Have you done this? Does this help you? Comment below and let me know.
About the Author
Jennifer is a coach, a counselor, and an entrepreneur, who lives in Seattle with her daughter. To find out more, check out the About Me page.