Though there may be some people with a direct line to what they truly want, nearly everyone could benefit from knowing better their real desires.
What blocks this is layers. A lifetime of layers. A lifetime of being told how we should be; how we should act; what we should want; what we should admire; what we should approve of; what we should look like; what we should say. Our mothers, our friends, our television, our magazines, our employers, all issue a constant stream of advice on how we should live. The messages contradict, and some may be good counsel, but it is difficult to avoid their continual influence. It becomes hard to distinguish what we want to do from what others want and expect us to do; it is like trying to hear one’s heartbeat during happy hour.. It is easy to go along with these messages without realizing we are not being true to ourselves.
I am not suggesting a stubborn adherence to one’s personal demands at the expense of everyone else. That license expired when you were four. We constantly trade one want for another in the interests of social harmony. Neither am I denigrating the role of service, where the joy of helping others outweighs the pleasure of attending to our own needs. Instead I am saying that to always go with the social flow is to lose touch with your deepest desires and with your self, and to open yourself to feelings of rootlessness and lack of direction.
The antidote is silence. Don’t even talk to yourself. Those voices are from the past and the future. Listen instead to the present. Feel how your tongue touches your palate. Hear the tendons creak as you turn your head. See the mockingbird chase the crow. In these things, you will find yourself, and the wants that arise will be manifestly true.