I need to know: "What do I want?" What might help me?

Most people live most of their lives on autopilot, set up by someone, sometime, somehow. It leads in some direction. Generally, people feel whether they are moving towards something good or bad, but there is often a lack of precise perception of their goals and life path. Why does this happen? 


Have you ever switched a plane from autopilot to manual control? If not, your imagination can probably picture such a moment. What does it require?

  • Skills of controlling the plane - metaphorically, skills of adaptation in life.
  • Responsibility - being ready to find the strength to overcome the consequences of your decisions in your head.
  • Ability to cope with emotions - after all, it's about your life, and maybe even the lives of others.

In general, it can be said that it's easier for a person not to know what they want than to constantly bear responsibility for their desires and needs. To avoid facing this set of difficulties, people unconsciously activate their psychological defences: repression, rationalisation, projection, devaluation, and so on. As a result, their desires and needs end up hidden much deeper and more securely than one would like.

But, at some point, you may want to make your life more successful, happier, or efficient. In short, different from what it is now. How to understand yourself? How to understand your desires? How to understand the desires and aspirations that will really be useful and drive positive changes?

You can't...

Again. No one and nothing can understand what needs to be done for the reliable achievement of positive changes in this life. You can only hope that life conditions will turn out favourably for you or that you will have enough strength, resources, and skills to overcome life's challenges and appreciate the gifts life gives you. Therefore, in this life, seeking some truth regarding your desires at the logical level makes no sense. However, it makes sense to approach your emotional evaluations of what you may want more trustingly.

After all, emotions reflect what you truly want and what captures your subconscious mind.

Try going through the following path:

Step 1. Take an opponent. This can be someone you can argue with, anyone willing to dedicate some time to you and listen to most of your arguments.

Step 2. Take a list of basic human needs:

  • security
  • power
  • attention
  • wealth
  • health
  • comfort
  • communication
  • approval
  • rest
  • change
  • support
  • understanding
  • attractiveness
  • recognition
  • touch
  • acceptance
  • entertainment
  • self-development
  • sex
  • family
  • creativity
  • solitude

Step 3. Observe your emotions when trying to convince your opponent that you need/do not need certain needs from the above list.

It's worth clarifying that emotions will not give you a straightforward answer like, "If I feel joy, the need is satisfied." What you can rely on: interest, irritation, boredom, anxiety, disappointment, guilt, sadness that arise when you try to convince your opponent – these are signals indicating the (non-) realisation of a need. It doesn't matter which of the described emotions you experience. What matters is the direction in which they arise.

For example, if attempts by those close to you to support you in difficult moments disappoint you, it means your need is not met. But, if these same attempts irritate you, it is more a signal that you want to deal with your problems independently (the need for support is realised).

The journey of self-discovery is intricate, and understanding our desires involves navigating life's uncertainties. Life is not about seeking absolute truths but trusting our emotional responses. Embracing responsibilities and uncertainties can lead to a more authentic self-understanding. Allow the unpredictable nature of life to guide you on the path of self-discovery, as it might hold the key to unlocking genuine desires and aspirations.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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