By Sara Davenport
I don’t know about you, but doesn’t it seem like getting clear about what we want should be the easy part? We should just know what we want, right? But let me tell you, I’ve found over the years that it isn’t that easy.
So, then what?
Well, I’ve come to realize a few important steps to figure out exactly what you want. Take a look and if something resonates with you, give it a try. If not, I encourage you to get curious and discover your own path to clarity.
Look Back to See How to Move Forward
I’m not a proponent of dwelling in the past, but it is important to take some time to review past relationships. Carve out some quiet time one evening or over a weekend. Light some candles, grab a notebook and a pen, and start writing. Go back over your past relationships—long/short, good/bad/ugly—and in a loving way, think about the things in those past partners that really lit you up, the things you loved about them.
Start painting a picture of what really worked for you from the past.
After looking through rose-colored glasses at the past,take a little time to get real with yourself about the struggles and frustrations you experienced. This is not meant to cause turmoil, but start noticing any patterns or possible pitfalls to avoid moving forward. I also encourage you to not just point the finger at your ex, but start seeing what you could have done differently.
Do you have some patterns that follow you from relationship to relationship? Is there something from your past you might need to do further work on alone before diving into the dating world again? I believe it’s really important to do the self work in order to bring a whole-hearted individual into a relationship.
Again, this isn’t meant to make you feel bad or frustrated or triggered. Instead, see it as an opportunity to reflect and see where you can grow and improve. One thing I’ve learned for sure, I am not able to change anyone but myself, and by doing this work, I can see how I can improve as an individual and a partner.
Take Some Time to Look Around You
This exercise is a little more light hearted. Instead of going inward, go outward for a bit. I personally like to think about the men in my life I respect. It doesn’t mean I’m longing for them or wishing to start something with them romantically, it just lets me get clear on characteristics that are important to me. I wouldn’t have these people in my life if I didn’t care about them, so why wouldn’t I see what they bring to the friendship and think about what I would like in a potential partner?
Get Quiet & Go Within
Life is busy and loud and fast paced. It’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of what matters most. Meditation has been a huge part of my growth over the past several years. I heard about meditation, but it wasn’t until I made friends with a meditation teacher that I really started to explore it. She suggested I start by taking five deep breaths at a time. Then, set an alarm for a minute. Then, three minutes. Then, five minutes. And so on.
Meditation isn’t about sitting with an empty mind, it’s about getting quiet and creating a space between thought and reaction. I didn’t even have the capacity to understand the space between thought and reaction until I started meditating! Now,carving out time in my schedule to get quiet helps ground me and creates the space to help me examine my wants and needs.
It might sound a little out-there to say meditation helps me clarify my wants and needs, but let me explain. When I get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I can lose sight of myself. I get caught up in being busy—a million things to do and never enough time to do them all.
When I take the time to slow down, breathe—even meditate for just three minutes—it helps me create space. Instead of grasping at the next thing or shuffling from meeting to meeting and crashing so hard at night I barely remember how I got home, I can see life more objectively. That allows me the space to decide what I actually want and need in life and my relationships, rather than react to everything that’s being thrown at me throughout the course of the day. It helps me see more clearly and connect with myself.
Be Gentle with Yourself
I will leave you with this last point: be gentle with yourself.
In the past, I have put so much pressure on myself to find the perfect relationship. I so wish I could tell the younger me that there is no such thing as a “perfect” relationship… that the most important relationship is the one with myself.
Learning to take care of myself, to heal any pains from the past and to learn to fully love myself 100 percent as is—that is key. In that way, you have the opportunity to bring someone special into the dating world. Even then, each relationship is going to teach us and bring up new challenges to overcome.
For me, getting clear on what I want in a relationship while learning to be gentle with and love myself is an ever-evolving process that gets easier with practice and time. Like I said, just try to be curious in the process. Try things on, see if anything feels good and fits, and take it from there!