In the last post (June 27), I wrote about how a sense of priorities can get distorted by what we learn about our parents’ and other significant adults’ expectations of us in that area.
Because so much of what we learn as children resides in our subconscious minds, it takes awareness to recognize that programs are running us that we absorbed without any selective sifting. Because of that, we may not recognize that we have two basic sets of responses to accomplishment: the desire to please and the desire to displease.
The desire to please is the desire for approval and reward. (Sometimes the approval is the reward, but sometimes we’re looking for more substantial and material gratification.) Essentially, we don’t know we did well unless we get the gold star, the gold ring, or some other form of outside approval.
The desire to displease is the desire for autonomy. We don’t want our accomplishments to depend on the approval of others. We do everything we can to make sure we don’t get that approval. However, that resistance is as much a reaction to outside forces as the submission of the approval seekers.
I think that most of us have both kinds of reactions in varying degrees. Some may be approval seekers most of the time, with occasional moments of rebellion. For others, rebellion dominates.
Neither mental condition leads to making sensible and creative choices about what we want to accomplish.
This is step two of prioritizing: Ask yourself why you want to or don’t want to do whatever is on your agenda? For example, does the idea of paying your bills makes you want to gag (assuming you have the money to do so), or do you feel such anxiety that you pay all bills weeks ahead of time? The advance payment is fine, but the force that drives you to do it might be a problem. Are you either compelled or revolted by a grim parental voice telling you that responsible people pay their bills?
If you hesitate about the creative writing course you want to take, do you hear a parental voice saying that creativity will never pay the bills?
Listen for those voices. They have a lot to tell you.