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I want to talk to you today about the importance of identifying and honoring the “hidden want.”

Visible Wants

Often in our lives, we have a want or goal we are working toward. This want is visible. It’s out there in the open. We get up in the morning thinking about it. We might have a post-it note on our bathroom mirror to remind ourselves of the want. We try hard to implement changes in our lives that move us closer to the visible want.

What is one of your “visible wants?” Maybe you want to lose weight and get in shape. Or perhaps you want to improve your marriage, or your relationships with your kids. Maybe you want to advance in your career or work life.

Struggling to Make Progress

Unfortunately, we often struggle to make meaningful progress toward our want. This can be very frustrating. “I really want it,” you might say to yourself. “I know it’s a good thing for me to do. I just don’t understand why I can’t make any progress.”

Hidden Wants

Here is something that might help give some clarity on your struggle. In most situations where we are struggling to make progress toward a visible want, there is also a hidden want lurking below the surface. We may not be aware of the hidden want. But it is there. The hidden want is generally in opposition to our visible want.

Let me give you an example from my own life. In my early 30s, one of my visible wants was to have more satisfying dating relationships, get married, and have a family. That was the visible want. It was out there in the open. However, below the surface, I also had a hidden want. The hidden want was my desire to be free and unencumbered. I didn’t think about my desire to be free all that much, but it was powerful. The hidden want worked in direct opposition to my visible want.

3 Benefits to Identifying Hidden Wants

There are three primary benefits to identifying our hidden wants:

  1. Identifying hidden wants helps us understand our situation. If we don’t identify our hidden wants, they remain in the unconscious, outside our awareness. We might struggle to move toward our visible wants, but have no idea why. This can be disheartening. Identifying our hidden wants helps us better understand what is happening in our lives. Once we are aware of our situation, we have the power to make choices.
  2. Identifying hidden wants reduces their power. Hidden wants are very powerful. It’s almost as if your inner psyche works extra hard to make those wants happen, because you can’t make them happen with your conscious mind. But once you identify and acknowledge your hidden wants, their power is reduced. They become more like a normal want, and you can think about your life and decide what you would like to do.
  3. Identifying hidden wants allows you to make decisions that reflect all your wants. Sometimes we have a tendency to think certain wants are bad or evil. Maybe we were taught certain wants were bad or sinful by our parents or religion. When this happens, we might push the “bad” want into our unconscious, outside of our awareness. But it’s still there. I think it’s more helpful to accept all our wants, and try to make decisions in such a way that best honors all our wants. For example, in the situation I described earlier, I might think about how to make choices in such a way that honors my want for relationship and my want for freedom.

Action Step

Write down one of your visible wants that you have been struggling to work toward. Think about what might be stopping you from moving forward confidently toward your want. See if you can identify a hidden want that pulls you in a different direction. Write down the hidden want. Journal about whether there might be a way for you to make choices in a way that honors both your visible want and your hidden want.

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