We should always fight to keep the things we want.
But more than that, we should also be fighting to keep away the things we don’t.
We know, all too well, what we do want in our lives. Most of us, I think, want pretty much the same sorts of things—happiness, families, safety, love, peace and to indulge in a treat or two. But sadly, in our search for these things, I think we also often allow ourselves to suffer many other pains and troubles that we don’t actually want.
In trying to keep someone’s love, we find we have to keep giving away our money, our power and our strength to them. In striving towards a dream job, we may have to endure grueling work conditions and abuse from our bosses. In our attempts to maintain peace within our family, we offer ourselves up on the Altar of Carrying Others’ Burdens.
Is this really what we want? And is all the other muck we’re dredging through worth it?
I guess that if it really is worth it, then we wouldn’t think of it as muck but just as something we’re happy to do. But if and when we start feeling like the muck isn’t worth it, then we need to think about what it is we really do or don’t want.
For months now, I’ve been having recurring dreams of being in the same place, doing the same thing, with the same people. At first, the dreams were about feeling stuck. I’d feel like I didn’t actually want to be there and I’d be filled with the weight of not knowing how to get out of this place. I’d wake up stifled with fear, anxious that maybe I hadn’t really woken up in my own safe bed.
This was also a time when I was trying to shape the course of my waking life a little more firmly. In all honesty, I still haven’t quite gotten to a place of knowing what it is that I really want. But coming from dark places, I have become more and more certain of what it is I definitely don’t want any more.
I am sure that
I don’t want to live through fear.
I don’t want to operate out of guilt and obligation.
I don’t want to feel emotionally dependent and mentally beholden to anyone or anything.
I know above all that I never again want to feel that sickening, sinking, sucking feeling of being disempowered.
I knew that if I could just not have these things in my life, I would already be a step closer to knowing peace.
As this knowledge sunk in, the dreams also changed. I would still dream repeatedly that I was back in that same place, doing the same things with the same people; only now, at some point in each dream, the dream self of me would realize, very determinedly, that she doesn’t want to be here anymore. The dream me would take concerted steps to remove herself from the place, understanding that it’s entirely possible and okay to leave. Now, in these new dreams there is no more a sense of being trapped or feeling scared.
I simply step out of what I don’t want anymore. Each time, as I fight to take that step to leave, I wake up from the dream, feeling sure of myself, brave, relieved and peaceful.
The journey to achieving the things our hearts and guts so absolutely desire finds a smoother, more certain track when we can identify the obstacles, detours and roadblocks—all the things we don’t want—that loom at every corner. When we see these unwanted things for what they are, we can simply sidestep them, take a different route or beat them out of the way completely.
As an analogy— when we need travel somewhere and know that we don’t want to be stuck in traffic, we make better preparations before we set out on our journey. We choose to drive during off-peak hours and don’t travel through busy roads. Knowing what we wish to avoid makes our journeys smoother, happier and less encumbered by the things that we know don’t serve us.
I think, as we develop convictions for what we don’t want—and we fight for those convictions in every of our interactions—we will find ourselves more confident of what we do want.
Set boundaries, like picture frames, keeping out the things we would rather not have around us. Then, within those parameters, we draw and shape and colour in all the other infinitely beautiful, uplifting details we see as being of the life we envision.
Fighting for every single last thing we don’t want, I know now, is also inevitably to fight for all the deepest wish-things that our heart-gut desires. They’re just two sides of the same coin, a balancing act for finding wholeness.
I understand now, as I drift awake from yet another one of those alarming dreams, that being sure of what I don’t want has become the surest thing I know of myself.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise