The first and most important step toward empowerment and joy is to clearly articulate where we want to go. We need a destination, or we’ll end up adrift with our sails flapping in the wind. Or, worse, we’ll end up helping to make everyone else’s dreams come true. Been there.
When Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the perpetually best-selling Eat, Pray, Love, was on Oprah, she suggested we think about what we really, really, really want. One “really” isn’t enough to tap into our passions. What do we really, really, really want?
Those of us with Complex-PTSD and depression often have a difficult time dreaming. Our dreams have been stomped on and blown to bits so many times that we become conditioned to give up on them because it’s safer to cater to the dreams of the person abusing us.
This is why step one is to take our power to dream back. During her Oprah interview, Elizabeth Gilbert explains aspects of her journey that aren’t in her book. She started with writing a journal. If dreaming is a struggle for you, you might want to start with imagining a perfect day ~ the kind of day a fairy godmother could deliver ~ no constraints ~ a day that would be perfect in every respect.
The next step is to ask yourself, “if you could get this, would you really want it?”
For example, when HGTV had their last Dream House contest, I so wanted to live in that fabulous house in Sonoma, CA. It reminded me of my paternal grandparents’ home where I was always safe. But, I realized that if I actually won the home, I couldn’t pay the income taxes on the prize. So, I had to be honest with myself that I didn’t really want it.
It took me years to be able to articulate my dream. It came to me in bits and pieces ~ like a jigsaw puzzle without a picture or a pile of fabric scraps that ultimately become a quilt. I didn’t know about the climate in the Pacific Northwest. I just knew I wanted to live in “sweater weather” so I could enjoy wearing my collection of sweaters all year around.
When I visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and my great-aunt’s summer cottage on Lake Michigan, I knew I wanted to live near the water surrounded by lots of trees and waterfalls. I wanted to be able to walk the beach on a daily basis and listen to the waves crash upon the shore. I wanted to be able to watch the sunset over the water and the full moon rise. I wanted to live in an environment of abundant wildlife. I wanted to be able to sail frequently.
I also wanted to find a way to revive the concept of benchmarking best practices. I looked for decades for a job in corporate America before I realized this web site just might be the ticket.
In short, I wandered around in the desert for decades. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences and providing a map that your journey won’t take you so long!
What do I really, really, really want? I want to live the life of a beguine in a small cottage near the water.
I’d love to have a view like this when I write as well as a nice sandy beach for my daily walks. More sunshine than we get here in the Seattle area would be a huge plus.
Essentially, I want what Virginia Woolf said every woman needs: a room of my own plus 500 pounds (today’s equivalent) so that I can be financially self-sufficient.
Like everybody else, I want to be more healthy than I am right now. And, I’d be very happy to find true love. But, I’m not in a place yet where I feel safe looking.
What do you really, really, really want? What is your definition of health, wealth, and happiness?
Update: Martha Beck has written a brilliant article on how to morph from angst to clearly articulated vision: 4 Steps to Aha!: How to Figure Out Exactly What You Want, O, The Oprah Magazine, January, 2012.
Today’s joy photo is of three of the ducklings who were born here this spring. Originally, there were seven, but a predator got one ~ probably the little rebel who routinely strayed away from the mother and its siblings. They’re almost fully grown now. I found them this evening at one of the small waterfalls on the property where I live: