I don’t know what I want.
I was engaged to be married, but I sat frozen, staring at the wedding invitations that still hadn’t been sent out. He was a good man—one of the best I’ve ever known. We wanted similar things. He cared for me. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to address and send out those invitations.
Instead, I just stood there, repeating in my head:
I don’t know what I want.
We’ve all been there at some point. Whether it’s something small, like which top to wear, or something huge, like whether to change careers, we’ve all experienced that empty, hard moment of…nothing. Of not knowing.
When I wasn’t sure whether to get married. When I had to decide whether to give up my career, due to injuries from a car accident, and try to find something that would fit my newly-limited capacity. When I stood in my kitchen just the other day, too tired to do anything productive, but not sure where the guidance and intuition I’ve come to rely on had gone.
And as a result, I felt stuck.
This disconnection from our desires is the most common form of self-sabotage. Like all forms, it’s insidious and sneaky—and also something we can empower ourselves to overcome.
Here’s a spoiler alert: in all of those situations, I did know what I wanted. The guidance from my heart, the intuition I’ve developed, was there the whole time.
I just couldn’t hear it.
Loss of Direction and Over-Identification With the Mind
When we are in that state of disconnect from our desires—from our hearts—it’s because we believe that we don’t know what those desires are, not because our desires aren’t there. Our heart is always giving us information about our path and our purpose; it provides constant and unwavering guidance, with a steady voice.
When the mind drowns that little voice out, it can feel like our direction has disappeared.
For me, the constant, quiet guidance was lost in the din of, “but you have to be productive!” and, “well that’s silly, you can’t do that!” and, “you shouldn’t do that, you should do this.”
Being disconnected from the guidance and certainty of our hearts (otherwise known as intuition or higher self), happens when we fall into the habit of believing those thoughts, and thereby imbuing them with greater power, like when we turn up the volume on these self-defeating thoughts. This is known as over-identification with the mind—when the mind becomes so loud that it drowns out the wisdom of the heart. This empowers the inner saboteur, who works to convince us that we don’t really know what we want at all, and steals our power in the process.
I’m not saying that the mind, and logical thought, are inferior, flawed or unimportant. Logic, thought and reason are powerful tools that we all need to to live happily. Over-identification with the mind represents a misuse of those tools. Being stuck, self sabotage and feeling unsatisfied in life are normal outcomes when these tools are misused.
To resolve this feeling of being stuck involves learning how the use of logic, in certain ways and in certain situations, is actually counterproductive, and learning healthier alternatives, specifically, how to reconnect with the heart instead of relying too much on the mind. Every tool has its use—and it’s only logical to use logic in a logical way!
This is a tough process, and is based on building mindful awareness: observing thoughts, instead of imbuing them with the power that we should keep for our hearts.
Reconnecting with the Heart
I know how hard it is to connect with your heart—to actually hear what it has to say, let alone understand its messages.
Because this gentle, tender, strong heart of ours begins to speak and before we can even hear it, before we can even register what it’s saying in the language of emotions and start to translate the message, the inner saboteur has dissected its message with cold, clinical efficiency, sliced it into unrecognizable pieces with the sharp edge of our intellect, and logically refuted or undermined those pieces. “Case closed!” the saboteur announces. “Turns out everything is meaningless after all!”
It’s time we stopped believing this.
Meaning isn’t of the mind, it is of the heart. When we don’t know what we want, what we’re really saying is that we don’t know what is meaningful. That is a sure sign that we are not in our heart, but identifying with the mind.
I knew that, as wonderful as life would have been with my ex-fiance, it didn’t resonate with my deepest sense of meaning. It wasn’t what I truly wanted—even though, logically, it was the “right” choice. It didn’t seem to make sense to leave such an ideal situation for…nothing. The unknown. Being alone. And yet, that was what my heart truly wanted.
Once I allowed myself to admit this, the sense of desire and meaning was so strong, I couldn’t help but trust it.
Desire happens when we have connected with meaning in the world, and our heart is guiding us toward the core of that meaning. It happens when we are doing something or connecting with something that is meaningful to the deepest part of us. True desire is synonymous with purpose, because it reflects our true path and our highest good. It’s what guides us to all the things we need to create our Big Life.
Reconnecting with the heart is a life-long process, a practice just like yoga and meditating (both of which can help!). I work on this daily, and every day, the voice of my heart gets louder. Heart practices like loving-kindness meditation and inner smile help us develop the experiential knowledge of understanding the subtle cues and messages our hearts are sending.
But to truly understand the messages of our heart, to learn to hear and understand what it’s saying, we have to practice listening.
Author: Kathryn Hogan
Image: Bhumika Bhatia/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron