How to Figure out What you Want as an HSP

by Caroline van Kimmenade

One of the blocks to knowing what you want is often a voice that sounds like: “but other people need me to be X” “there is no time for me to figure out what I want, I have too many responsibilities!”, or even: “my head is filled with what other people want, what I think I should want, and what society tells me I have to want, I’m so confused!”

The HSP strength of being able to consider multiple (people’s) perspectives can make things more confusing. Your own inner voice gets lost in the shuffle.

Plus, when it comes to figuring out what you want amidst the needs of others, it can be hard to find a good in-between. If you struggle to balance the needs of you and the needs of others, and it turns out “you” tend to come last, you’re not alone.

If you’ve been trying to figure this one out, one of the possible pitfalls is that your brain can get stuck on: “either I do what I want and I become completely irresponsible and let everyone down (which is not what I want at all!) or I do what other people want and end up the unhappy doormat! Gah, what do I do??”

Your brain gets stuck in either/or, when in actuality, there are many more possibilities.

The thing is, if “going for what you want” would make you unhappy (because it would be irresponsible and not what you want), then… it’s not actually what you want!

O.k. great, so how do you go from here? Below are two ideas to get you started:


1. Separate Past Wants from Present Wants

Along the way, you may have lost sight of what you actually want right here, right now. Instead, you might be carrying around an old list of ideas of what you used to want.

Maybe those wants never got fulfilled, so they are still on your list. Yet, just because you remember wanting them, doesn’t mean you want them now.  It’s important to check. Every year there will be old wants that are outdated and don’t fit your life anymore, but if you haven’t taken the time to discern what would make sense for you right now, they stay on your mental list.

When situations come up that require a stance or decision, give yourself some time to sit with it and discern what your needs and preferences are. How are you really feeling about these things?

You might find that how you feel in your body about it, no longer matches what your mind thinks about it. In that case, your “most wanted list” ;) needs an upgrade.


2. Worries point to your Wants

Worrying about something may not sound like a want or need, yet there is one hidden in there.

If you worry about x happening, then what you want is to have the opposite of x, or to have a plan to prevent x.

So if you’re worried about all the stress at work, then what you want is to feel calm and self-assured at work. Or maybe what you want is to feel more encouraged and supported and appreciated at work. Or maybe you just want to work less and have more breaks. Or all of the above.

What your worry points to will be personal, but when you take the time to flip it around, it will become clear.


But how?

How to make those wants happen is another thing.

Maybe you need a different job.

Or maybe your work stress follows you around no matter where you work, and you realise that something about the way you do things needs to change.

Maybe you don’t know what would work and need help figuring this out

Start small

Jumping from feeling Unsure About It All to Passionate Dream Pursuer is too massive of a change and far too much pressure to put on yourself.

Start by looking at small things that you want: what to have for dinner, how long to stay at a party, how to spend your Sundays.

When your smaller wants become clearer (and you act on them), the bigger ones will slowly come into focus too (and when they do, they will feel more doable because you’ve already had some practice putting your wants and needs into action).

If a small voice inside is telling you that you really need to look into this, I have a guide and workbook to help you out here.

Thinking something like this through without any structure – and with all kinds of creative but rambling thoughts – can get you feeling stuck and overwhelmed. So I’ve written out a process for you to break it all down into doable and supportive steps:


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