Becoming a Detective to Your Own Experience

September 18, 2012

I remember, very clearly, a time when I realized this:

I don’t even know what I like.

I knew what other people liked.

I knew what the people in my life preferred.

I knew how to do it so that I got an A.

I knew what the right way to do things was.

But I didn’t know how I might do it, if I were given the choice.

I had never given myself a choice before.

This extended to so many areas of my life: food, work, daily schedule, sex, getting dressed in the morning, choosing activities to do with myself.  It felt quite global.

I also didn’t like myself much, but, who would like a complete stranger?

Slogans like “become your own best friend” or “love yourself completely” didn’t resonate with me, because there was nothing to ground it. It was like being told to fall madly, truly, and deeply in love with the person sitting next to you on the subway – they may be peripherally attractive or may possess some indicators of intrigue – but they are still strangers.

Also they may disgust or turn you off completely.

I thought: how can I be expected to love this person? I have no idea who they are.

Since like attracts like, I have been attracting many clients like this in the last couple of months, people who look at me with a mixture of bewilderment and incoherence when I ask what it might be like to go on a date with yourself or do something just for you.

Because the truth is, it is impossible to do something just for you, when you don’t even know what you like.

The question remains, how do you get to know yourself?

This actually can be a very pleasurable process, as long as you can muster up the sense to giggle when you find yourself at a meet-up group for 30-something lovers of Wes Anderson movies and realize that it’s totally not your scene.

This process requires some trial and error.

Think about the things that have given you joy over the course of your life. Write them down. These can be the things that you liked when you were 5, 14, during your “punk phase,” or when you were in college.

There may not be many of them – this is OK.

Now, think about all of the things that you’ve seen other people doing, the things that stopped you and made you wonder, would I like doing that? Write those things down.

This is a running list, so please add to it as you are moving about your life. I guarantee to you that half of those things you want to try won’t live up to your expectations, but some of them will.

The point here is to hop into your life, and muck around a bit. Test the waters. Try something ridiculous.

Get comfortable doing something imperfect in the presence of others. This in and of itself, while not easy, is ENORMOUSLY beneficial to living a full, exciting life.

Now, feel free to replicate this process with food, sex, or any area of your life that has you wanting more – more connection, more laughter, more excitement, more fun, and more intrigue.

Develop a system for yourself for determining how you felt about something that you’ve done, ask yourself:

  1. How did this make me feel?
  2. Would I do it again?
  3. Did it fill me up or empty me out, emotionally?
  4. Were there parts that I liked? (Because the Universe loves specificity.)

Repeat, many, many times.