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Let Your Wants Be Your Guiding North Star

Let Your Wants Be Your Guiding North StarWants are the “it would be rad to have it” things, not the things that sustain life. I want to truly deeply celebrate our wants and our needs, but first, I want to share six reasons why it matters that you, that we, from our codependent, perfectionist and people pleasing habits get in touch with our wants because:

  • So many of us pretend we don’t have wants and needs.

We sweep them under the rug in our attempts to appear independent, often from the story that it’s safer not to have wants/needs because then no one can negate them or tell us we’re wrong or bad for having them. This is often a story we learned from our family blueprint, so often from having parents, particularly mothers I’ve found, that learned from the patriarchy that their role is to be the caretaker, the giver, and not the receiver. We learned that it’s not okay to want or need, and we should feel guilty or selfish if we do, and extra guilty or selfish if we actually get what we want. 

  • We don’t trust our desires. 

The patriarchy has told so many of us that our wants are not OK. That our desires are problematic if they don’t meet certain standards for acceptability for women, that it’s not okay for us to want to be seen and heard and met in certain ways. That we should want to look and act in ways that are pleasing to the male gaze (read: thin but not too thin, assertive but not bitchy, etc). 

There is a whole problematic moralistic story that teaches humans socialized as women that it’s okay to want to have sex but… not too much, oh! And just certain kinds of sex, on and on, and that if you step out of those social mores, if you want to explore your sexuality, polyamory or open relationships, explore power or pleasure in new ways, then you’re likely to get ostracized, criticized, judged and shunned for stepping outside of what’s acceptable for a good girl, a good little woman. 

  • Beyond wants and needs as physical things, we stifle our wants for support, for care, for love, for mutuality and reciprocity because we’ve been told the story that wanting those things is a problem.

It makes us appear “needy” which is language built to keep people, especially humans socialized as women, down, to keep us small by keeping us from being met by our partners, friends and others in our lives. So if it’s “needy” to expect or ask for your partner who you live and parent with to do their fair share of the labor, if that’s judged and stigmatized, if you’re told you’re a bitch or a nag for wanting reciprocity, then you don’t ask for it, which makes sense, and that keeps women, the humans who typically do significantly more household and emotional labor, exhausted, frustrated, resentful and annoyed, feeling put upon because we often are, and are told it’s a problem if we want things to be different. 

This narrative keeps us spinning instead of demanding change – instead of expecting that humans socialized as men and masculine humans show up to be an equal partner. And while these norms are changing, it’s still not the norm. The thing to remember here is that these patriarchal rules around gender norms hurt us all, humans of all the genders by teaching us that it’s okay for some people to have wants and needs that are worthy wants and needs, and some people are nags and martyrs, whose only option is to stay quiet and seethe in resentment. That sucks for all of us. 

  • Your wants and needs matter because not believing they are valid can have real health implications.

Especially when your mindset is codependent and so you don’t believe that you’re as worthy of love and care as everyone else, teamed with systems that insist that productivity is more important than humanity. How many of us have agreed to eat things that hurt us because we don’t want to appear needy by saying that we have dietary restrictions and want to eat a certain way and then spend miserable days with headaches, IBS flares, joint pain? How many of us have agreed to have sex we don’t want or not asked for the sex or kind of touch we want because we are so worried what our partners will think of us that we’d rather go along and please them, but not be pleased ourselves? How many of us have agreed to sex without a condom or gloves because we worry what someone else will think of our wants?

  • This matters because so often we make our wants someone else’s responsibility to meet, and in so doing, we hand over our power, our agency.

We strengthen the neural grooves in our minds that say “I can’t meet my own needs, I can’t get what I want – someone else has to give me permission, someone else has to validate my desires, someone else has to make it happen for me” and that keeps us stuck in painful old stories about who we are and what’s possible for us. Often as women we are taught to not be a burden or a bother, and that having wants makes us needy, which again is painted as Very Bad Indeed, so… don’t be a bother, don’t be a burden, continue to deny your humanity, your wants, needs, your desires – people please instead, go along to get along… sigh….

  • Finally, we block our own wants in life because we fear failure.

We fear challenging emotions, and we fear what others might think of us – all classic codependent, perfectionist and people pleasing thought habits. So we don’t start the business or go get that MFA because what if we’re not good enough? What if our desired outcome, to be a poet or a coach, isn’t successful? What will our parents or peers or partners think if we leave our job to explore that passion that just lights us up?! We don’t go after the dream goal we most want because what if we don’t “succeed” by our own exigent internal standards then we will feel a whole slew of feelings – disappointment, sadness, regret – and what we forget if we’re not doing thought work and somatics, if we’re not investigating our habitual thoughts and felt bodily sensations is that all of those feelings can be met with love and compassion, can be felt and processed through our bodies, and truly can be transformed through thought work and somatics. 

Which means that we don’t ever have to fear our feelings – we just need to learn to manage our minds and honor our bodies, which builds capacity in our nervous system to find peace whatever the circumstances or outcomes. 

My darling perfect amazing little tender ravioli! 

You get to let your wants be your guiding North Star!

Wants are beautiful things, go get ’em! Go get what you want for yourself! 

Give yourself the permission you’ve been asking everyone else for!

If you want to ask that person out on a date, you get to do that. 

If you want to tell your partner you’re leaving them and filing for divorce, you get to do that. 

If you want someone to pass the salt, you get to do that! A client of mine said that before starting Anchored she couldn’t even bring herself to ask for the salt to be passed, she was that worried about being a bother. 

It’s OK to want whatever you want. Truly. 

If you’re like “but I don’t know what I want!”, which is so common for us, start by asking yourself.  

Really, make it that simple! pausing and stepping out of your habitual ways of thinking and being, and literally just ask yourself: what is it that I truly want in this moment? Allow that desire to be your guide. Do I want fries with that? But like… for reals. Don’t just order the fries without thinking, but don’t just get the side salad instead without thinking. 

Pause and ask yourself: what is it that I truly want in this moment of my life, and then you can expand that to ask yourself what you want in relationships, work, life. 

As you learn what you want, you get to ditch the old thinking that tells you that wanting is selfish or bad, or that you need to feel guilty about wanting something so you can prove you’re a good person, cause none of that is true. Want what you want, own it, and allow the process of getting real about what you want for you to support you in building self trust. 

When we deny our wants we erode self trust, so you get to practice rewriting that old story. 

There is also so much freedom and flexibility in dropping the story that I need things to be a certain way so I can fully claim my wants as valid. From there, I can choose to be flexible around them. I like my house to be tidy. And when it’s just me here, I keep it that way – a place for everything, everything in its place! And when friends or dates come to stay with me, invariably my house will not look the way I prefer while they’re here. It’s by recognizing tidiness as a want that I can be like “there are dishes in the sink, the couch pillows are all asunder, and that’s fine because I don’t need  it to look a certain way, I just want it to.” From recognizing that want as a want, I can decide that I actually want to spend time connected with beloveds more than I want to perseverate on how the house looks.

You can always say that anything beyond basic needs are wants and that’s just great! 

That’s what they are, and it’s wonderful for you to go and get those wants! Give yourself the permission to want what you want, just for you, just because you want it. Just because it brings you joy. See if you can drop the judgment of yourself for wanting what you want just long enough to let yourself go for it, work towards it, make it happen and then celebrate the crap outta yourself for moving ever closer to the life of your dreams! 

While we’re at it, celebrate what you already have too! 

Homework time! To connect in with the abundance of your life, I’ll invite you to write out 30 things you want and 30 things you already have that you can decide to feel abundant around.

If you want a partner who cherishes you, write it down.

If you have a partner who respects you, write it down.

If you have a job that pays the bills, write it down.

If you want a job that you love to do, write it down.

Celebrate it all, let your desires, your wants, matter to you and go on and get it my darling. Ask your beloved to do the dishes after you cooked, to stay with the kids for 30 minutes so you can exercise or meditate, invest in you and your future if you want to, take the leap if you want to, set a boundary if you want to, make your bed if you want to and don’t if you don’t want to, make yourself a delightful cup of tea and pause for a minute to savor it if you want to, just because you want to. 

Thank you for taking the time to read Feminist Wellness. I’m excited to be here and to help you take back your health!

I know not everyone is into podcasts, so I wanted to provide digestible blogs to go along with the episodes! If you’re curious about the podcast and haven’t checked them out yet, click here.  

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