Knowing What You Don't Want

growth life balance well-being Jan 30, 2023
Illustration of Charis Santillie considering what she does and doesn't like
Share this

🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #040 here.

For many people, myself included, identifying what we don’t like and what we don’t want is the first step to figuring out what we do like and what we do want. I think it’s pretty common that figuring out what we DON’T want is easier than figuring out what we DO want.

Early on in life, the people and culture around us tell us, directly or indirectly, what we should want. 

Then, at some point, many of us start questioning those things. And when that happens, we first tend to notice what we don’t like and what we no longer want in our lives. 

And then, if you ask yourself what you do want instead, you may draw a blank. 

You may be overwhelmed by the possibilities. 

You may not feel you deserve what you want.

You may not feel worthy of what you want.

You may not feel like you have permission to have what you want.

You may not have a clue what you want because you’ve never stopped to ask yourself.

You may feel guilty for wanting what you want.

You may be afraid to admit that you want something because you have no idea how to get it.

And just to be clear here, the thing you want could be a material thing, or it could be a relationship, or it could be an experience, or it could be time for a hobby, or it could be more sleep, or it could be better health…the list goes on. 

No matter what it is you want, underneath that thing is the feeling it brings you.

And no matter what it is that you don’t want, underneath that thing is the feeling that it brings you.

So when you notice something you don’t want in your life, start by asking yourself how that thing makes you feel—I want you to literally look at what feelings it brings up. Does it make you feel anxious, frenetic, frustrated, overwhelmed, or some other feeling?

And if you don’t know what you do want, ask yourself how you’d like to feel instead. Do you want to feel calm, content, worthy, excited, or something else entirely?

Recognizing and naming the feelings you want less of and the feelings you want more of can help give you valuable information about what you could consider changing in your life. 

That leads me to something important I want to point out here. Sometimes you’ll find it will help you to get rid of the things you don’t want, and sometimes it may not be that you need to get rid of something, but you may need to look at ways to have that thing bring about more enjoyable feelings.

Let’s apply a metaphor for food.

You don’t really know if you don’t like a food until you try it and taste it. Then you know if you want more or not. Sometimes, it may be best to never, ever eat that food again. And sometimes, it may be best to change the food in some way or change the experience of eating it. For example, if you paired it with another food or ingredient, you may really enjoy it. Or if you changed the way you cooked or prepared it, you may enjoy it more. Or if you changed the time of day you ate it; you might enjoy it more.

So what if you took that metaphor and applied it to the things in your life that you don’t like? 

Should you consider avoiding them? 

Should you consider dropping them?

Or should you consider changing how you experience them in some creative way?

And then, when you feel like you don’t know what you want, try to picture life like a buffet and be a little more adventurous, so you try a little of this and a little of that. If you even feel the slightest bit of curiosity about something that looks good to you, what if you listened to that nudge and gave it a try?

“True power arises in knowing what you want, knowing what you don’t want, expressing it clearly and lovingly without attachment to the outcome.” 

– Leonard Jacobson

🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #040 here.

Share this


Free Guide

Life Transition Toolkit

Are you ready to master your next life transition with confidence and clarity?

Want to harness the power of change and turn your next chapter into your best chapter?

Register Now for this Free PDF Guide

Registering also subscribes you to my email list. Unsubscribe at any time. You also agree to our Terms & Privacy Policy (links below).

Most Recent

Charis Chats with Tim Brand – Many Hands

Jul 08, 2024

Charis Chats with Bill Protzmann – Musimorphic

Jul 01, 2024

Charis Chats with Katie Ann Powell – Music and Money

Jun 10, 2024