Me: “What do you really want?”
Client: “I don’t know.”
This exchange is one of the most common conversations I have with clients when we begin our work together.
My question, of course, isn’t about what color to paint the walls. The purpose of the question is to understand who you are and where you are heading.
Somehow this simple question stops many people in their tracks.
I find moments such as these to be powerfully relevant – a foreshadow of the discovery to come. More often than not, in this context, ‘I don’t know’ signals a desire to look inward at unchartered territory. Beneath the statement is a yearning to explore and expand the inner self – to see what needs to be seen, say what needs to be said, and to discover the treasure that needs to be revealed. This is how one grows in personal awareness.
It is a tremendous honor and privilege to travel this road from not knowing to knowing alongside a fellow human being. The journey is magnificent and the discovery exceptionally sweet. Every time you get more ‘knowing’ you radiate more confidence, freedom, and general ease of living that so many people are seeking today.
Check out the following insights on three invaluable rewards – security, clarity, and growth – that result from taking the time and effort to fill in the blank spaces of your own story.
What ‘Not Knowing’ Really Means
‘Not knowing’ usually means one of two things. Either you want to explore and understand better who you truly are and why, or you are fearful of being judged and therefore avoid putting yourself out there by stating your own truth. Sometimes its a combination of the two. Both scenarios are resolvable with a little exploration and focused attention.
Understand the Actual Security Risk
When you “don’t know” what you want – or if it feels too scary to say it so you don’t – then you make choices and decisions based on what other people are doing and what they want. The problem is that the more points of your life that you plot in this way, the further off course you become. Before you know it you are lost in the weeds and you can’t tell where you end and the other begins.
You know you are there when your brain is in a fog and you don’t feel rooted to anything. It often shows up as depression, anxiety, insecurity, or general discontent.
Instead, set up for success by allowing yourself time and space to figure out what is organic to you; no one knows you better than you.
Knowing yourself and what you want helps you to identify your personal boundaries. Boundaries are important because they provide limits and direction. They protect you from going too off course by keeping you aligned with your true self. They help you to make the right choices for yourself (i.e. what you like and don’t like, what you will do and what you won’t, what is okay for you and what is not).
You are the driver in your life. You will get lost if you don’t know yourself and if you don’t have awareness of your personal boundaries that keep you on track.
The world needs to know what you want and what you really think because that is how it differentiates you from everybody else. You are different – and that, my friend, is a very good thing. I can’t tell you how many people I have met with who in the beginning of our work together said, “I just want to be normal”. My typical response is, “You are so not normal!”
People – you are extraordinary. I really, really mean that.
Take time to identify your values, strengths, special talents and unique purpose. Explore your own thoughts and see what surfaces. Investigate until you understand why you think the way you do. Clarify what is and isn’t you and become one step closer to knowing what you want.
Your unique traits are important information. Get clear about what they are and use them to build your life the way that fits for you.
Getting to Know You
The awesome thing about growing in personal awareness and figuring out the ‘I don’t know’s’ in your life is that ‘once you know you grow’. You take on a new, expanded, and more clearly defined shape that sticks. You can’t undo this growth.
Not only does your self-knowledge grow, but your opportunities also multiply. When you take a step higher on the mountain of knowing yourself you can see more of what is out there and available to you.
So, take time to identify some basic details about yourself:
- What makes you you?
- What are your values, needs, and strengths?
- What makes you happy, sad, excited, and mad?
- What scares you and what makes you smile?
- What do you find energizing and what feels draining?
- What are your talents and skills?
- What matters the most to you?
Save yourself the effort of trying to look like everyone else and focus on really knowing you. You will be much happier, more confident, and what you want will become crystal clear. The next time you catch yourself responding with, “I don’t know” – pause. Give yourself a minute to remember who you are, what makes you “You”, and find the words to say what you know. You really do know more than you think you do, you just haven’t acknowledged it yet.
If you want the security, clarity, and growth that comes from knowing what you want, consider working with a personal coach to get started.
Here’s what I know – you are so worth it.
Amy Hallagan is an LCSW, personal coach, and the owner of Exubero, Llc, Coaching & Personal Development, in Loveland, Colorado. Amy is most passionate about helping people with high sensitivity to create truly meaningful lives rooted in their unique strengths, skills, values, passions, and purpose. Connect with Amy by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through her website, www.exuberocoaching.com. Subscribe to her blog here.