When we were two, we knew exactly what we wanted. We felt an absolute sense of entitlement about everything as well: when we wanted something, we knew instinctively that we had the right to want it and we expected to get it.
So What Happened?
Unfortunately, as we grew older and were socialized as children and adults, we learned the opposite of this. We were taught to deny our wills for the most part and as a result we lost touch with a powerful part of ourselves and our ability to create the lives that we want. We were taught to defer to others: our parents, siblings, teachers, friends. We learned to give up on what we wanted in order to please and pacify others. In order to be loved. In order to be accepted. In order to fit in.
And so, we got confused when later in life we were expected to suddenly be self-directed and know what we wanted to do with our lives and have the strength of will to achieve it.
I Think This Explains A Lot
No wonder there are so many unhappy people in the world doing things that they really don’t want to. Most people have learned this lesson so well that they don’t even know what they really do want. That will muscle hasn’t had much exercise. They’ve got a good strong “please other people” muscle, but that doesn’t get you very far when you spend eight hours or more a day doing something that doesn’t fulfill or inspire you.
We’ve gotten really good at jumping through other people’s hoops and then distracting ourselves from the still small voice within by watching TV or surfing the net with the time we have to ourselves. We seem to have lost the ability to create and choose and command and commit to a path and follow it until we achieve it.
What Can We Do About It?
We don’t have many resources for being trained in developing our wills in this way and it sure isn’t common in our culture. But the strong-willed passion of our two-year-old selves is still there. It may be buried, the muscle may be weak, but it can be cultivated and encouraged to get stronger once again.
In my next post, I’ll give you some ideas that will help you reconnect with that strength of will and begin to re-build you ability to know what you want and to get it.
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