Doing What You Want


Oscillating

In life, we are individuals first and foremost.  And as individuals, we are able to do anything we want.

Other people can suggest things to us, and they may have a level of influence over us; but we ultimately control our own choices and actions.  No one can force us to do anything we don’t want to do.

So my question is should we ever have to do anything we don’t want to do?

 

At first glance, the answer seems obvious:

No, of course not.

If you don’t want to do something, why in the world would you do it?  Right?

Unfortunately things aren’t that simple.

 

Your Life is Not Your Own.

We are individuals.  And yes, we CAN do what we want.  But we do not live in a vacuum.

Our choices and decisions impact others.  If you are in a relationship, or have children; your actions often have a significant impact on those people (whether you like it or not).

There’s no escaping this.  Even if we are single, living on our own and fully independent – there are still going to be times that our actions impact others.  Maybe it’s co-workers, or neighbors, or even just friends.

So no, I don’t think it’s fair to say that someone can ever just do what they want.  Short of removing ourselves from civilization, moving to an isolated island and returning to a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, our actions ALWAYS impact others.

 

Most of us don’t want to live on an island by ourselves though.  We are social creatures, and we all crave social connection.

Actually, even if we WERE on an island by ourselves we would still desire/need connection.  In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks was stranded for years, and the only thing that kept him sane was having his volleyball buddy Wilson to talk to (for those that haven’t seen it, Wilson actually was a volleyball).  Yeah it was a fictional movie, but it struck a chord because people are social animals – I suspect that’s why solitary confinement is considered a form of punishment.

So we seek out connection.  We look for people who we can talk to and listen to.  People who make us feel valued, seen, and heard.

And for many of us, this is what leads us to look for a partner in life.  Someone to build a life with, and someone we can envision one day “growing old” with.

 

Building a Relationship

Looking at romantic relationships (marriage/partner), one of the unwritten rules is that the other person has to matter to you.  Your choices affect them, and their choices affect you.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change anything about the way you live or the choices you make.  After all, for the relationship to work you still need to be you and your partner needs to be able to accept you as such.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you aren’t an individual anymore, but it does mean you are more than just an individual.

Because of this you need to keep in mind how your choices will impact your partner.  Relationships require caring, empathy, and accepting influence.  And taking your partner into account is part of that.

 

This brings me back to my initial question:

Should we ever have to do anything we don’t want to do?

If your partner wants you to do something and you don’t want to do it, should you be willing to do it for them?  Or do you just say I don’t want to, or that’s not my thing?

It’s a difficult question.

 

Clearly that depends on what it is, and on the perceived expectation from your partner.

If your partner wants you to be their getaway driver for a bank heist, then it’s pretty easy to just say no.  If they want you to have an orgy with the neighbor and a goat, again, pretty easy to say no.

But what if it’s a fairly reasonable request?

 

Let’s say your partner loves opera and wants you to join them, but you don’t like it.  Should you go with them?  How about if you are planning a vacation and struggling to find a place you both want to go, or even just trying to pick a movie to see?

Are relationships only about finding a person with similar interests, and then only doing things together that you both enjoy?  Or are there time that you should do things you may not really be interested in doing?

 

In my opinion, for a relationship to be successful there HAS to be give and take.  You need to be able to go outside your comfort zone and do things with your partner that isn’t necessarily your thing.  If I go to the opera with my partner (and I don’t enjoy opera), it has nothing to do with opera.  Instead, it’s about sharing moments and experiences with your partner that are important to them.  You aren’t showing interest in opera – you are showing interest in your partner.

It doesn’t mean you should have to go with them all the time.  But sharing moments that are important to them is about accepting influence from them.  In some ways you can think of it as investing in your relationship, and in your future.

 

 

Doing Your Own Thing

In relationships, the balance between individual and part of a couple can be hard, and there are often conflicting messages.

Sometimes you hear things like “happiness is found in doing things for others”.  Other times you hear things like “there’s nothing selfish about putting yourself first, taking care of yourself and making yourself a priority”.

So which is it?  Is it best to do things for others all the time or should you just look out for yourself?

The challenge is, both of these are true.  Looking out for yourself may SEEM selfish, but in some ways it’s not.  YOU MATTER!!!  Your needs, your wants and your desires are important.  They need to matter, whether you are in a relationship or not.

Once in a relationship however, the other person needs to matter too.  And when needs and wants conflict, it can’t just be about you.

Relationships aren’t just about getting your way, and doing what you want.  They don’t only apply when both people’s needs/wants happen to line up.

 

If you don’t want to do something and feel you shouldn’t have to do anything you don’t want, then that’s fine.  That’s an individual choice that you can make.

But if someone in a relationship feels they should be able to do whatever they want without taking into account how it will impact their partner, then that’s not a relationship.

They are looking for someone to be there on their terms only, and to care of their needs.  What they really want is to pick and choose the parts of the relationship that work for them.

In that situation there isn’t much accepting influence, caring or empathy.

And without that, there isn’t much love.

selfish

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14 thoughts on “Doing What You Want

    • Glad to see you made it to my end of the blog world.

      I saw you sign up a few weeks back – have you looked at any of my older posts? It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been doing this for almost 2 1/2 yrs now (time flies), and I’ve touched on all sorts of topics in that time span.

      I’m finding it harder to get time to write these days due to all sorts of other time constraints (work, kids, school etc), but I still have all sorts of posts in the works.

      Hope you’re able to stick around for a while, and I appreciate any feedback.

      Drew

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      • If only I can do what I want without any regard for the people in my life…but you’re right, our decisions impact others. I’m not a selfish person but there are many times when I want to be selfish, when I want to do things on my own, but I often feel guilty to think and feel that way because it’s not in my nature to be selfish. I’ve given my entire life to my husband and my kids and sometimes I feel there’s none left for me. It’s not healthy to feel that you’re running on empty all the time, but I am just hoping that someday I can give myself the time I deserve.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “If only I can do what I want without any regard for the people in my life”

        Yeah, I get that I think (I told you I have a post on “losing yourself” in the works, and it’s still coming). And at times I think we all feel that way. Making a guess here – it is probably harder for you as a woman, and depending on how traditional your upbringing was it may be even harder as an Asian woman. I’m not trying to be a misogynistic jerk here, but in general women seem to be taught that they are “the nurturers”, and that they need to sacrifice for the betterment of the family, whereas guys seem to be taught that their main role it to provide for their family. And this seems even more pronounced in many Asian cultures.

        I’m all for sacrificing for the family, but I think all people (men or women) need to find a way to balance the “me” with the “we”. Focusing too much on one or the other isn’t healthy. You ALWAYS need to be able to take time for YOU. And if you can’t because life is too busy, then maybe there’s too much going on in life and there is a way to cut back on something. At the same time, people should never focus too much on the me (at the expense of the we).

        Divorce stats say that most divorces are initiated by the woman, and I think this has a lot to do with it. I think many women focus too much on the family at the expense of their own mental well being, and then one day hit a point where they feel something like you said – they’ve given too much for someone else (husband, kids, both), and now they want time back for themselves. My personal opinion (ignore if it doesn’t apply) is that often the woman gave too much because they felt it “was the right thing to do”, and they were trying to be the perfect mom, or the perfect wife. In reality, their husband/kids would probably have been perfectly fine with them taking some time for themselves all along, but now by giving so much they have inadvertently created a level of dependence, and when they start to pull away and want “me” time their family is confused by what is going on. Lotsa bad stuff like hurt and resentment can set in, and then a relationship finds itself in trouble.

        Not saying that’s happening here, but it’s something I’ve seen many, many times.

        Wanting/needing time for you is NEVER a bad thing. It just comes back to finding that balance, which allows me and we to exist together in harmony. I think finding that balance is the key to a healthy personal life and a healthy relationship.

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      • You are sort of right about being an Asian mother. Although I feel more American than Asian, I think my Filipino heritage has a lot to do with my sacrifices.

        Anyway, I have just posted a new blog. And your

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I am not sure if you have read my recent post about choosing. I said that I am waiting for a sign from above and you came up with this post which is very relatable to me. So hard to choose because you are right.. It is not just about me now as I have a family but it’s more for my son’s sake though he is also ok where he is at with us at the moment. If I can choose I would really like to go back HOME but family is here. The other option justs added to more confusing thoughts haha! So for now… I go with the flow and wait until I cannot wait anymore. Good for defining types of decisions. 🙂

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    • Hi Venneve, I’ve been away for a bit but did just see your post (Switzerland vs. New Zealand, right?).

      Choices are always hard, because it’s rare that there is ever a “right” choice. As you said, each option has advantages and disadvantages, and usually there isn’t one that is necessarily better. It may be better in some ways but worse in others.

      I’m currently reading a book on choice (almost done), and it has some fascinating things on mindsets and approaches to choice.

      One of the biggest takeaways I have from the book is something you’ve likely seen a lot of in my writing. And that’s the idea that the pursuit of “the perfect choice” often can causes us a lot of anguish. Instead, I like the idea of thinking in terms of what is “enough” for me, and once I make a choice about something being enough I try to put the other option out of mind and not compare my current choice to my own imaginary scenarios of how the other choice would have been had I gone that route instead.

      Big choices are never easy though, especially when they can impact so many other people.

      Good luck.

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  2. I have found that doing things that other people want can expand your horizon and open you up to new experiences, but you need to have an open mind about wanting to try something new. Otherwise, you’ll go into it with a negative mindset and not enjoy it. However, if you can be open to new experiences, then enjoying what someone else enjoys is amazing.

    Recently, my wife and I went on a trip and we both experienced adventures that the other wanted to do. It was fantastic as we both opened up not just to a new experiences, but sharing what each other liked. We weren’t always successful, but the times it did work outweighed the times that it didn’t.

    Only doing what you want to do prevents others from sharing themselves with you, causing you to remain in your own little world, and actively prevents you from emerging from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Is It Better To Be Single? | thezombieshuffle

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