Identifying how you feel and what your want can be surprisingly difficult, especially if you (like me) have spent years listening to other’s needs and ignoring your own. So here are some hints to make this process easier:
In trying to identify how I feel, it has been very helpful for me to spend time looking at and listening to my actual physical sensations and where they are located in my body. For example, though I may not be well enough acquainted with my emotions to be able to say “I feel angry/happy/resentful,” I can often sense that my fists are clenched, or that I feel a lightness in my heart or a knot in my stomach.
I’ve also found that one easy way to determine what I want is to ask myself the question, “If someone tried to give me this, would I take it?” If I would, I can be pretty sure I want it, and vice versa. Unfortunately, the ability to see our wants clearly can still be clouded by guilt as well as by thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, which often show up in words like should, ought, and can’t. Whenever I hear myself saying words like that to myself, I find that it’s helpful to ask myself another question: “If I could do anything right now, without feelings of guilt or inadequacy, what would I do?”