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The Secret to Figuring Out What You Want

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A few years ago, I wrote a post encouraging people to stop searching for answers.

The topic came from my own experience of seeking out ideas and solutions from other people whenever I felt stuck in life.

After all, it’s natural to want to see how other people have navigated difficult situations.

But this would lead me to obsessively search for answers, trying to find the right one that would somehow fix everything in my life.

What I learned through a lot of trial and error is that the answers would often come to me when I stopped seeking.

When I took the time to slow down and listen to the answers I already had within me, things became a lot clearer.

Essentially, the idea is that you already have the answers you need within you.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been quite a while since I wrote that post, but someone commented on it recently that prompted me to dig deeper into this topic.

The commenter asked a question that overwhelmed me at first because I didn’t know how to answer it. I even thought about deleting their comment because I felt as if they were questioning what I had written.

But I paused for a moment, set my ego aside, and decided to dig into the question with an open mind.

Here’s what they commented:

“Yes, it’s certainly possible to have the answers, not trust or listen to those answers and then just get stuck looking for external help. Isn’t it also possible to just lack any kind of internal direction? Then what? Personally, I can say the only thing I’ve ever really had is a vague sense of what I need/want. Whether I look inward or seek externally, there just aren’t any tangible answers.”

So was I wrong?

I started to wonder whether or not everyone does have the answers they seek within them.

Just because I’ve been able to find answers within myself, does that mean everyone else can too?

Does everyone have an inner guidance system?

When I say inner guidance system, I’m talking about the part of you that knows who you are and what you want, no matter how unexplainable those things might be.

Whether you call it intuition, a gut feeling, or plain old wisdom, it’s something within you that helps you make decisions from a place of alignment.

Think of it as your internal GPS, or rather your IPS (internal positioning system).

Perhaps this shows up as a ‘knowing’ that you’re meant to do something, even if feels scary.

Maybe it’s a gut feeling that tells you not to trust someone but you can’t put your finger on why.

It could be a belief that you feel is true in your heart but other people can’t quite seem to understand it.

At the end of the day, I do think we all have an inner guidance system, but it can be incredibly hard to trust and lean into it.

Why it’s difficult to listen to ourselves

So if we do all have an inner guidance system, why is it so hard to hear it sometimes?

One reason might be that the answers you seek aren’t being presented in the way you want them to show up.

I think our inner sense of direction or guidance isn’t tangible, but we really, really want it to be.

Like if you’re wondering what type of job is the best fit for you, your internal guidance system probably isn’t going to say something as clear as ‘You’re obviously meant to be a doctor’.

Mine’s definitely not going to tell me that because I faint at the sight of blood.

On the other hand, it could be because you’re not asking the real questions that you want answers to.

Maybe you’re simply ignoring your inner wisdom because you don’t want to deal with the uncomfortable answers that come up.

How inner guidance shows up

Let’s say your inner guidance system is giving you some answers, but you’re not sure what they are.

In my experience, answers show up in synchronicities, patterns, or feelings of deja vu.

Answers show up in the things I value, the things I feel inspired by, or the things I’m drawn to even if they feel ‘unproductive’.

These things may not be easily explainable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.

This intangibility just makes it all the more easy to ignore them and write them off as distractions.

More often than not, the answers show up as an inkling of an idea that you need to explore before you can truly understand what the message is.

I see them as glimmers that are trying to tell me something.

For example, I’ll be reading a book and learn about a new concept, and suddenly that topic is showing up everywhere.

Of course that topic may have been there all along, but now I’m aware of it’s existence.

I pay attention to these things and try to understand what they mean, no matter how strange they seem, because I feel like they have something to teach me.

I even keep a list in my notepad called ‘synchronicities’ just so I can remember them for later.

Some people might explain these as signs from the universe or a higher power, but the meaning you assign to these signs is what’s important.

Have any of these signs shown up for you lately?

Living the questions

From The Wisdom of Not Knowing by Estelle Frankel

At the end of the day, maybe we need to be okay with not having all of the answers.

I felt pressured to know the answer to this commenter’s question, but I don’t have the exact answer (because there isn’t one).

Sometimes we just need to live the questions.

As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote,

Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Come back to the now

If you find yourself endlessly searching for answers, come back to yourself in the here and now.

We get so caught up looking ahead to the future that we don’t ask ourselves what we want in the present moment.

This moment is the best place to start from.

Even a vague sense of what you want or need is better than nothing at all.

My question to you: Do you feel like you have an inner guidance system? What has it been telling you lately?

About the Author
Picture of Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! As the creator of The Blissful Mind, I love exploring ways to make life more fulfilling, especially when it comes to our daily routines, habits, and well-being.

17 Responses

  1. Yes, perhaps I do have an inner guidance system but I’m so far removed from it at this point that I do sometimes question that it’s there. There’s a great deal of overwhelm in my life right now that stems from not having enough time to get everything done that needs doing. So, the inner guidance system may be trying to tell me something but if there’s not time to be quiet and listen, I’m not sure what good it is. And even if I had time to listen, I sure don’t have time to act on what it might say. Many times it doesn’t matter so much what we WANT, it matters what responsibilities and obligations we have, especially if others are relying on us.

    1. I have disagree with the last statement, Karen. If we don’t listen to to what we want and make time for ourselves, we cannot help others from a place that’s truly helpful. It’ll turn into resentment instead.

    2. So sorry to hear that you feel far away from your inner guidance system, Karen.

      Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with life and everything that’s happening around us.

      At that point, the inner guidance actually IS far away and you are absolutely right if you say you’re unable to listen to it.

      Expecting you to listen to your inner guidance at that point is like showing you a big mountain, explaining there is a shop somewhere with all the necessary gears and then telling you it isn’t that difficult to reach the top, you only have to start climbing.

      At this moment in your life, I would recommend you to find someone to help you to find a way to get rid of the overwhelm of life. That can be a friend or a professional.

      With this external guide you could make tiny steps to (re)find your inner guide. But the same goes as for the mountain climbing: you need to start small and not expecting to immediately reach the top of the Kilimanjaro just because more experienced people did.

      Catherine, you are right as well: the best way to be able to care for others is if we take good care of ourselves.
      Thanks for the article, we all need to take a step back regularly a d take the time to listen to what is inside ourselves.

      I always love reading your emails and blogs!

    3. This was a great post, Catherine. I always love your insights and beautiful expression of them in your blog posts.

      In regards to the comment by Karen of not being able to detect her inner guidance, I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by Lieselot. When we’re overwhelmed in life, we tend to disconnect from ourselves and thus it is becomes nearly impossible to detect our needs and wants. But when we continue in this state of constantly giving of ourselves without fulfilling our own needs, it only leads to resentment, mental/physical exhaustion, and burnout.

      It’s so important to get help in order to alleviate some of that overwhelm so you can start making space for yourself in your own life and be able to give of yourself from a place of OVERFLOW, rather than DEPLETION. I have a lot of valuable resources on this topic over on my IG @littlevoicebigmatter. Best of luck💗

  2. I think we all have an inner guidance system. For me, it’s slowing down and listening to it. I also know that I have done things that have not turned out well because I did not listen to that inner voice. I think we need to have the courage to speak up when our “gut” is telling us something,

    Good article! Keep at it!

  3. Your article came in the right time for me I think we all have that inner guidance sometimes it just the fear of the unknown.

  4. Thank you for writing this. This is the very thing I have been working on this year. 9 months ago, I knew I wasn’t happy with where I was at in my life, and I knew I had been ignoring my true self, feelings, and true desires for years. For me, it started to hurt, and I just couldn’t ignore myself anymore. So after leaving my job, I started journaling, and began to try and listen to my heart and what it really wants. I agree that it is hard, extremely vague, unclear, and not something I had ever done before, but I thought, if I can just get a teeny hint of something, I’ll take a step in that direction, and surely that step will lead to another step, and so forth, and all I’m doing is following what feels right to me.

    1. Hello, thank you, Catherine your emails came at a time when I was looking. I do appreciate your blogs. Just stopping to read triggers me to stop, breathe and wait.

      Like Giovanna. I started my journey, of listening to myself and following when It felt right.

      And this led to Starting School again, at 45 years old. It can be cumbersome, but One thing I know that stays the same is when I ask for help, I receive it from family, friends and strangers.
      So Catherine, Please keep Stimulating my Busy mind and I do see in Puzzles, Everyday. Thank you, and I wish you Well.

  5. Hello 🕊️
    I do have an inner guidance, however it’s different from one stage of my life to another. It’s constantly evolving according to the circumstances of my life. At almost 65 years old, I am amazed by life itself. I focus on “the now” because in reality that’s all you have. You can ponder and plan ahead which can be good to a certain degree, but to borrow tomorrow in place of today is a waste of energy.
    Life itself will be overwhelming from time to time, that’s just a reality. You just have to navigate through it the best you can and it’s ok to need help. The older I become the easier it is to live in “the now” and just make the best of today. 🕊️🪷😇💗

  6. Figuring out what you want can sometimes feel like a daunting and elusive task. However, there is a secret to unraveling this mystery. The key lies in self-reflection and introspection. Take the time to truly understand yourself – your interests, passions, values, and goals. Engage in activities that bring you joy and ignite your curiosity. Pay attention to the things that make you feel alive and fulfilled. Journaling can be a powerful tool in this process, allowing you to explore your thoughts and emotions in a safe space. Additionally, seeking new experiences and stepping outside of your comfort zone can provide valuable insights into what truly resonates with you. Surround yourself with supportive and like-minded individuals who can help guide and inspire you on your journey of self-discovery. Remember, figuring out what you want is not a linear process, but rather a continuous exploration of your ever-evolving desires and aspirations. Embrace the adventure, trust yourself, and be open to the possibilities that lie ahead.

  7. Now it makes sense the phrase “do it scared” because we knew from the start what to do but we’re scared to face uncertainties. When it comes to listening to your inner guidance system, have you ever felt that you’re unable to hear it when life gets too loud?

  8. Reading this blog made me realized how important to know your self especially in making decisions and so on… To answer your question, everytime when my emotions are overflowing i can’t hear what my inner guidance system’s saying and there’s where I made bad moves or wrong decisions that put me in a situation that cornered me.

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