This ‘magic wand’ question is something that one of my colleagues always asks her clients and it is a great way to get some blue-sky thinking going.
What I know for certain is this. When you ask most people what they want their life to be like – they don’t know. They DO know what they don’t want. They could magic wand THAT right away. But they haven’t figured out what they really do want.
We have a simple process for this that really helps people convert – ‘I don’t want to feel this way anymore/I don’t want to be working these stupid hours for no reward or appreciation/I don’t want to be around this person’ – into something positive, that you DO want.
It’s funny that, isn’t it? We are hardwired to know exactly what we don’t want. But when asked to say what we do want – we just find it really hard.
Children Learn By Experience
I suppose it makes sense. From being a child we learn by experience. So we learn that if we fall over it hurts – we stop falling over. Can you remember the absolute shock of falling over and hurting yourself, as a child? It’s so unexpected. Remember – when growing up, you have no experience, everything is the first time. Until it isn’t.
And so if you fall, you know what you don’t want and you try and avoid falling again. When you eat food that makes you sick, you know you don’t want that food anymore and will try to avoid eating it. If you get stung by a wasp, you definitely know you don’t want THAT to happen again and so you avoid wasps.
But here’s how children differ from adults.
As a child – you do know what you want and it isn’t just the avoidance of pain and upset. Ask a child what they want for Christmas and you will get a list of potential presents. Try asking what they want to eat and they will tell you – it might be ice cream, but you will get an answer. They know what they want – whether it is good for them or not!
Now maybe there is something to this next thought. Is it because we don’t get what we want when we ask, that we learn there is no point in asking?
Whilst talking one of my clients through her ‘I’m not good enough to start my own business’ thought pattern, this is what she said to me.
“When I was a child, my Mum used to have a catalogue – Freemans or something like that. She used to give it to me at Christmas and ask me to mark off anything that I would like for Christmas that year. I spent many happy and excited hours, not only going through all the toys I wanted but also imagining getting them on Christmas Day. It was such fun.
What happened to the Magic Wand on Christmas Day?
“But on Christmas Day – there were never any of those toys under the tree. There would be books, and clothes, slippers from a great aunt, some plasticine or Lego, a puzzle book. Maybe a selection box. And so, over a couple of years, I learned that I only got things I didn’t ask for and never the ones I did.”
As I asked her about how that made her feel, she realised that it made her feel that she didn’t deserve the things she asked for and that she shouldn’t bother to ask for anything because then she wouldn’t be disappointed.
This deeply ingrained (but subconscious) feeling had held her back all her adult life. She wouldn’t ask for promotion and never ever asked for help – even when she really needed it. And most of all she had no idea what she actually wanted because she was used to just being grateful for whatever she got, as that was all ‘she deserved’.
She had also heard all those other messages that lots of us get as children. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Love is more important than money. “I want”, never gets. Don’t be greedy. Etc. Etc.
This was all subconscious of course. She did not have any idea until that moment, that those childhood experiences had so deeply affected her and prevented her from even daring to think about what she wanted.
Now, she is so much clearer on what she wants, and why. She has found her purpose and the right road for her.
It is almost impossible to come to those light bulb moments on your own. You have your view on your history and always put your own interpretation on everything that ever happened to you – as an adult or child. As an adult, we still do this but perhaps are able to fill in the gaps better….sometimes.
Filling in the Gaps
When you are ‘grown up’ – if your best friend doesn’t want to go on a planned night out, you might be disappointed but you will understand that she has had a hard week at work, or she isn’t feeling well for example. But as a child you will fill in the gap with – she doesn’t like me anymore.
As an adult if your other half doesn’t buy you an amazing birthday gift, you will know that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you – it just means you’re a bit short on cash this month, or he is hopeless at gifts but makes it up in other ways.
But when you are a child the lack of the expected gift doesn’t mean your parents can’t afford stuff, it means they don’t love you enough, or worse, you don’t deserve it.
Be a Child Again
I’m going to ask you to be a child again for a few minutes. When you thought that anything was possible. Before the world hurt you. Just sit, close your eyes, breathe. And ask yourself – what do you want. You might get an answer.
And if you don’t – and you REALLY want to know – then email me at email@example.com and let’s have a virtual coffee. Sometimes you just need someone to ask the right question, or wave a magic wand!