Module 4: Try Supporting What You Want Rather Than Diminishing It
So you’ve given yourself permission to want what you really want, and to feel how you really want to feel. You’ve set a clear intention to actually create what you want. Congratulations! Take a moment, right now, to close your eyes and imagine you are already experiencing what you want to experience. Luxuriate in the feelings and images that are stimulated. Relax, breathe a little deeper, and relish these feelings for as long as you can.
Notice that you can feel the way you want to feel right now, even before what you want has materialized. This is key. I’m not the first person to make this next point, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but even if you’ve heard it countless times, see if you can take it in at an even deeper level: We want what we want because we think that, in having it or experiencing it, we will feel better. So feel better now. The capacity for those feelings is within you.
As you choose to generate and experience those good feelings more often, you become a magnet for ideas, people, and opportunities that are on that same good-feeling wavelength. You move forward with more fluidity, creating what you want—because you can, and because the creative process is so enlivening—rather than working to get what you want.
That’s what supporting what you want is all about. It’s about finding ways to focus on what you want (rather than becoming absorbed in what you don’t want), relishing the anticipation of experiencing it, relaxing and opening to inspiration, nudging yourself to take small steps forward and looking for all the resources and reasons you have to succeed.
Supporting what you want is also about learning to respond constructively to the small self part of you that doubts your ability to realize your dreams, or simply judges them to be impractical and ignores them. Notice how common it is for people—maybe you?— to immediately look for, and enumerate, all the reasons why they can’t have what they really want.
Many of us have become habitual dream-crushers with thoughts and questions such as the following:
- Nobody has ever pulled this off. It’s completely unrealistic!
- That’s going to take more time and money than I have.
- The world doesn’t need another ___________. There’s too much competition out there already.
- I’m not good at sticking with projects for the long term.
- Who am I to think I can have that?
- This is just the way I am, and I’m too old to change.
- I have no idea how to do this.
The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Given how quickly our minds can fill in the “reasons why not” —the reasons we can’t have or experience what we want—we need to literally retrain our minds to focus in a way that empowers and supports us.
In this module I’ll offer the practices that have been most helpful to me, and to my clients and students, in that retraining process. Before launching into the details of the various practices, let me offer another key point that you have undoubtedly heard before, yet that is so fundamental to creating a life you love it cannot be overstated. It’s one that is easily understood at an intellectual level, but in order to realize its power, you have to “get it” at a far deeper, more embodied level. (Your intention, and the practices that follow—or new ones that you create for yourself—will ensure that you “get it.”)
Here it is:
You cannot get what you want by focusing on what you don’t want.
Let that one really sink in. Reflect on all the places your mind wanders throughout the day, and where it goes when you consider manifesting what you want. Which direction are you facing—toward what you want, or away from it?
The following are a few examples of where you might be focusing your attention. In many cases you think you’re focusing on what you want, but you’re really placing your attention on the perceived obstacles to what you want:
- Past failed attempts to create what you want (thinking that if you figure out where you went wrong, you’ll be able to move forward)
- Resources you need that you don’t yet have
- Tasks and to-do lists that don’t include any steps toward your dreams
- All the things you’re not getting done
- How hard things are right now
- How long creating what you want will take
- Worst-case scenarios if you pursue what you want
- Worst-case scenarios if you don’t!
If you were able, moment to moment, to notice where your attention is and whether it’s pointed toward what you want and, if it is not, to pause and shift your focus, you would not need any of the practices I’m going to suggest. (But you might choose to use them, anyway, because they’re fun!)
So intend, right now, to do just that. Imagine you can turn up the dial of self-awareness and begin noticing where your attention and thoughts are focused. Keep choosing to pause and shift your focus whenever you notice you’ve wandered into “don’t want” land. Let it be that simple.
But what about…?
Why isn’t it helpful to analyze what is wrong, or what went wrong in the past? Isn’t that how we learn from our mistakes?
It is tremendously helpful to review past attempts to realize your intentions through the lens of, “What beliefs am I holding that are running counter to what I want?” which we will explore in the next module. But there is a big difference between exploring limiting beliefs with the intention to shift them, and continuing to focus on what is “wrong” or what went wrong. Remember, what you focus on is what expands in your life.
So if, for example, you want to be in a healthy relationship yet have repeatedly attracted partners who treat you poorly, it isn’t helpful to keep focusing on how mean they were or how badly things ended. You’ll likely end up feeling victimized all over again by thinking of all the ways he or she disrespected you. And now you’re on the vibrational frequency of “disrespect,” which means you’re likely to attract more of the same.
In this example you’ll want to explore the underlying beliefs giving rise to the “disrespect vibration” (such as, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy”), so you can acknowledge them, challenge them and let them go, and you’ll want to consciously cultivate the vibration and experiences you do want, which is what this module and the next one are all about.
Activities & Practices
These activities will help you to develop the habit of focusing on what you want in a way that is supportive and empowered.
The “Reasons Why” List
This one is simple and direct. Because our minds tend to go in a negative direction quite readily, pausing to consciously focus in a positive direction helps us develop the capacity to do so more naturally and easily.
As you identify what you truly want to create or experience—whether it’s something as tangible as starting your own business or as intangible as experiencing true inner peace—take some time to acknowledge all the reasons why you want what you want. The reasons why reflect your inner motivation for wanting it, and when you stay connected with that motivation you’re vibrating with what you want in a genuine, empowered way.
Add to this list all the resources you already have, both internal and external, to support you in creating or experiencing what you want. (And by the way, your genuine desire is your most significant inner resource, so put it at the top of your list. As my former coach, best-selling author Tama Kieves, often says, desire is the rocket fuel for your destiny. )
Keep this list nearby and add to it as you go along. Or write it out in the form of a letter to yourself, which is something that I’ve found tremendously helpful and that I’ve done at various points along my journey. Imagine writing as your Large Self, congratulating you on giving yourself permission to want what you really want, reminding you of all the reasons why you want it, and helping you see the resources already at your disposal for creating it. Write this letter in a warm, loving, and supportive way. Reread (or rewrite) it from time to time to stay connected with your genuine desires.
This practice is unbelievably potent. It lifts your vibration and stimulates both inspiration and creativity. It’s easy to learn, it works—and it’s fun! Questions asked in a supportive, rather than analytical, way can stimulate awareness, insight and forward movement.
So what are supportive questions?
Supportive questions are open-ended questions that are oriented toward possibility and success. This is in stark contrast to common declarative statements such as, “I have no idea where to begin,” which reflect beliefs about things as they are, leaving no opening for other possibilities. Questions, rather than statements, open you to those other possibilities. The mind loves questions, and giving it something good to chew on goes a long way toward shifting its focus away from what you don’t want and toward what you do want.
Not all questions are created equal, though, which is why you’ll want to learn to ask supportive questions: questions that effectively support you in moving toward what you want. Let’s say you’ve started a business that you’ve wanted to start for a long time, but it’s not growing as quickly as you hoped it would. Here are a few questions that might come to mind:
- What am I doing wrong?
- Why isn’t my business growing?
- How can anybody succeed in this bad economy?
- What was I thinking when I decided to start this business?
These questions are open-ended, to be sure, but they are not oriented toward possibility or success. They point your attention to what you don’t want, which is extremely unhelpful. Questions like these will keep you feeling stuck, ineffective, and disempowered. Yikes.
Supportive questions, on the other hand, gently nudge your attention in the direction you want to go. Here are several you might ask in this situation to shift the perspective:
- What do I want my business to look and feel like as it grows?
- What ideas have I had that I might now be ready to implement?
- What is one small thing I could do right now to create positive momentum?
- What amazing opportunity might exist that I haven’t thought of yet?
- Who could help me brainstorm ways to grow my business?
- How could I relax and have more fun with growing my business?
- What is already working well in terms of generating revenue? How might I expand that?
If you ask truly supportive questions, you will feel better immediately as you ask them. You’ll look forward to creating the questions that really light you up and reflect how you want to feel as you move forward. But don’t rush to answer these questions the way you would answer questions on an exam. Give them to your Large Self and see what inspiration emerges over the following days and weeks. If, upon asking supportive questions, you start receiving fresh insights or perspectives, by all means write them down and begin fleshing them out! Just don’t demand answers of yourself. Let the questions percolate and see what comes up.
One Small Step
I know you’ve heard this before: Small steps eventually lead to desired (big) outcomes.
Yes, there will be times when you’re on a roll and things happen quickly and in a big way—and you will welcome and celebrate those times! But don’t wait for the big, splashy accomplishments to prove that you’re making progress. Decide that it really is all about the journey, and relish every step you take that expresses your present-moment, fully alive, commitment to it.
Get in the habit of asking yourself some version of this particularly helpful supportive question on a regular basis: What is one small thing I could do right now (or today, or this week) that gets me in the energy of what I’m creating? (Or, “What is one small thing I could do that moves me forward?” or “What is one small thing I would feel really good about completing this week?” or…you get the idea.) And then do that one small thing.
Keep a “Good Vibrations” Notebook (or Journal)
I love this practice. I write in mine on most days, and without fail it helps me get focused and feel better about where I’m headed. The idea of a “Good Vibrations” notebook is simple: record anything and everything that helps you get in the vibration of what you want to create or experience. If you’ve been keeping the Eyes of Love journal suggested in Module 1, think of this “Good Vibrations” notebook as an element or extension of your Eyes of Love journal. It’s the perfect place for asking (and answering), “What do I really want to create or experience in my life?”, jotting down your Reasons Why, brainstorming (and answering) your Supportive Questions, and playing with your One Small Step ideas.
This notebook is also the perfect place for acknowledging and celebrating the steps you’ve taken and the wonderful outcomes you’ve created. Tama Kieves refers to this as a “win list,” which is a simple and powerful way to keep your attention focused on what you want, rather than on what you don’t want.
The best part about the win list is that it helps you grasp that you’re already living into your dreams. You’re already successful. What you want isn’t a thing out there in your future. It is an ongoing expression of who you are.
Nothing is too big or too small for the win list. If you’re cultivating peace of mind and you carved 10 minutes into your day for meditation, that’s a win! If, in the midst of a conversation with a friend, you noticed you were complaining about the progress you feel you haven’t made, and then switched your focus to all the progress you have made—that’s a win! If someone gave you positive feedback on something you did, and you were able to really take it in—that’s a win! And of course, if Oprah Winfrey calls with an offer to create a new show featuring you and your work—that would probably go on the list, too.
Be creative about what—and how—to write in your Good Vibrations notebook. You can write in prose, poetry, or bullet-point lists. You can draw pictures. You can add cutesy things such as stars and hearts to highlight your favorite things. You can spend 2 minutes with it each day, or 20.
Make it fun and inviting for you, so that you look forward to writing in it. Keep it going for a while on some regular basis—daily is great, but weekly is good, too—until you’re living more readily from that “good vibration” place.
You might be tempted to dismiss any or all of these practices as simplistic rather than simple and helpful. I hope you won’t. The practices are purposefully simple so your mind doesn’t get all tangled up in philosophical arguments or analytical detail. And they work.
Of course, feel free to create your own practices that help you support rather than diminish what you want. Trust the power of your intention. As you consciously choose to focus on what you want (rather than on what you don’t want), you will naturally create the positive shifts you want to make.