How can I understand what I want?

In both dating and my career, I find that I keep having the same problem: I don't know what I really want, so I'm scared to go for things that seem unattainable (because why try if it seems like the odds of failure are high while the likelihood of fulfilment is low). As a result, I end up in relationships and jobs where I feel secure, but am not fulfilled. It seems to be a combination of me lacking the confidence in my ability to pursue my dreams, but also not understanding what those dreams are.

What suggestions do you have for daily practices/changes in mindset that I might implement?
Asked by John
Answered
12/05/2021

First off...thank you for reaching out for answers. Finding motivation and purpose can be difficult, especially if finances and relationships are unsatisfactory. When you consider Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, you can visibly see that if your fundamental needs are met, but not satisfactory, successfully connecting with others, feeling you 'belong,' or working on areas of esteem and self-actualization are feasible, but will also be impacted by your dissatisfaction of basic needs (physiological and safety). The best way to combat dissatisfaction in these areas is through the researched method of keeping a gratitude journal. According to researchers, there are three ways of experiencing gratitude - it is an emotion, it is a trait, or it is a practice. If we consider the latter, through the use of a daily/weekly gratitude journal, where you would identify three new/different things for which to be grateful that day or in general life, never repeating these three daily gratitudes throughout the year, your brain begins to identify and cherish new and unique things throughout your day/week. This chemical change within your body is shown to boost your overall well-being, increase your ability to deal with stress/trauma, widen your perspective, increase your mood and motivation, and help you connect with other people. (Source: "The Healing Powers of Gratitude" by Carolyn L. Todd, https://www.self.com/story/gratitude-benefits). I wish you the best in your self-exploration.

“Positive psychology is focused on cultivating well-being and human flourishing. The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania describes it as ‘the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.’ The American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as the study of the emotional states, individual traits, and social supports that ‘enhance people’s subjective well-being and make life most worth living.’” Additionally, Judy Moskowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of medical social sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern, and president of the International Positive Psychology Association, explains, “Positive emotions aren’t just the inverse of negative emotions, they actually have unique functions…and can actually help us build our resilience and help us cope.”

(MA, MBA, LPC)