How do I want to feel?

Do we stop often enough to ask ourselves this incredibly important question? We often think about what we want to do – today, at the weekend, with our lives – but rarely do we consider how we actually want to feel.

Danielle LaPorte is on a mission to change that. Her extraordinary book, The Desire Map, delves into LaPorte’s life-changing experience, where she suddenly took stock of her situation and worked out how she wanted to feel in various aspects of her life. From this, she dug down until she came up with a small number of ‘Core Desired Feelings’ – the feelings she really, really wanted to bring into her life in a big way.

I read the book back in November and was hooked. The second half is a workbook which provides plenty of guidelines and suggestions on how to work out your own Core Desired Feelings, although LaPorte clearly assures the reader that there is no right way to do it, and no set amount of time within which one should work through the exercises.

In the run-up to Christmas 2016, I worked through most of the exercises, putting my own spin on them where I felt that something didn’t quite fit. I sat with a thesaurus (well, my laptop and its in-built thesaurus) as I searched term after term, trying to narrow down the large number of feelings/adjectives to a few fundamental underlying themes. LaPorte suggests trying to come up with a list of no more than three to five CDFs – this is inherently sensible, as a) this helps to make sure you’re drilling down and really getting to the crux of how you want to feel, coming up with a list that really resonates and b) it allows the reader to focus – too long a list would be too vague and too much to think about.

I originally came up with four Core Desired Feelings, and sat on them for a few days before I was willing to commit to them – just to make sure they felt right. I actually added a fifth as well, as it just felt right.

Once you’ve come up with your CDFs, the idea is to make sure you fill your life with activities and people that help you move towards and feel your CDFs, and to say ‘no’ to things that don’t. I love this idea – too often we do things because we are asked to or think we should, without considering whether we really want to, or how it will make us feel. For me, there were some really simple things I could say ‘no’ to – such as cleaning the house so frequently. Who cares about a bit of dust anyway? Tiny changes make a huge difference.

To help me stay on track, I bought The Desire Map Daily Planner, and I love it. Each day I write down my CDFs to remind myself of my commitment to them, I plan my day, and then I have spaces to think about what I am grateful for, what I want to change, and what I want to stop doing. For where I am in life right now, it’s perfect.

As a result, I have made a conscious effort to say ‘yes’ to things that will make me feel my CDFs, and ‘no’ to things that won’t. I have been more ‘me’ this year so far than I have in a long time. I don’t think I’ve suddenly changed my personality, I’m just channelling all my inner interests and feelings I’d forgotten. In all honesty, I think that’s what has led to me leaving my job sooner than intended – I already knew how much that job wasn’t ‘me’, but what changed was that I was no longer prepared to say ‘yes’ to it.

Obviously it’s not always possible to suddenly quit your job, or up and leave to go travelling – we all have responsibilities and other people to consider. However, every tiny step towards feeling how you want to feel counts.

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