August 21, 2013

The Secret to Not Getting What You Want.

I get a little annoyed sometimes when people tout The Secret as the be all, end all.

I would agree 100 percent that our attitudes, intentions and focus play a huge role in what we manifest in life. But, the part that frustrates me is when people parlay this idea into a reason to sit around and wait for what they want in life to magically appear.

If you don’t know what you want, or aren’t sure what you’d do when you get it—stick with just thinking about it. That’s the best way to go. Just picture yourself doing what you dream of, but don’t do anything about it. At all.

That is the secret to not getting what you want.

Sure, there may be .0000001 percent of the population that spontaneously have someone show up at their house with a few million dollars and an elaborate book deal, or (fill in the blank of what you are “manifesting”), but for most of us it doesn’t work that way.

So let’s talk about “manifestation.”

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of the verb “manifest” is as follows:

“To display or show (a quality or feeling) by one’s acts or appearance; demonstrate.”

Sometimes when I hear people talk about the things they want to manifest, I feel my lunch come up in my throat a bit. I get gaggy, not because people have aspirations, as certainly I have many, many things I aspire to, but because they have completely bypassed an idea intrinsic to manifestation: we need to act.

There are three key pieces to manifesting what we want in our lives.

The first piece is what many self-help books and gurus focus exclusively: intention. Having the right attitude and keeping mentally focused is important. Vision boards are a helpful tool if we see them as what they are—a tool to keep focused. They are not the end of the road. Intention alone will not get us where we want to go. If I sit on my ass in my bedroom staring at my vision board, I’m pretty sure none of it is going to happen. A positive attitude is wonderful and necessary, but we need to move from intention to action.

The second piece is taking actual steps toward what we want. I think Edison put it best when he said that, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” When we want to get somewhere, we need to take steps to get there.

This sounds pretty basic, but I’m often amazed at how many people in their discussions of what they want to have in their life make zero mention of what they are doing to make it happen. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. When ever I feel frustrated that my actions aren’t netting results as fast as I’d like, I remind myself of the words of a good friend: “When everything feels like an uphill struggle, think of the view from the top.”

The third piece is the hardest piece for many of us; I know it’s the hardest part for me. If we are going to get what we want, we need to learn how to ask for it. And I’m not talking about “asking the Universe” or asking God, though I believe that is a helpful way to keep our focus and stay encouraged. I’m talking about asking each other.

You want to know a secret?

The things you don’t ask for? 99.9 percent of the time—you aren’t going to get them.

Sure, people reach out and give to us unexpectedly and that is beautiful and serendipitous. I love getting an out-of-the-blue note from a friend that arrives in the middle of a busy week. This morning, the guy in front of me in line at the coffee shop paid for my drink. ” Life does spontaneously gift us wonderful things, and for that I am truly grateful.

But that stuff you want? If it matters to you, learn how to ask for it.

You want to spend time with someone? Ask him to get together.

You need help fixing something? Ask someone who’s better at it than you are.

You want more clients? Let people know and tell them what you’re working on.

You realize you’re in over your head? Ask someone you trust for help.

Asking for help isn’t weakness; asking for help is vulnerability. Asking for help is not a sign that we have failed, it is a sign that we are wisely using our resources and trusting the people we love, as well as our own judgement. The American ideal of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is wonderful.

Another long held American ideal we have forgotten was the custom of barn raising. It used to be that we automatically reached out for help when undertaking major life tasks. That’s part of what it means to be in a community, whether the community is within your neighborhood or a virtual one that spans the globe.

Asking for help is a necessary piece of manifestation, and one that is often omitted from the conversation completely.

Asking is an art:

(As a side note, I have mixed feelings about the way Kickstarter functions, as I feel like it takes away from the personal nature of asking, among other things. That, however, is another blog altogether.)

If it matters to you, if it’s one of those dreams that keeps you up at night, don’t just dream about it. Don’t just post it on your bulletin board for “someday.”

Someday is not a day of the week.

If it’s what you want, it’s time to learn how to ask for it.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise



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