What are you getting out of staying right where you are?

This past weekend I had the great privilege of attending Barbara Stanny’s Sacred Success Retreat. Her book of the same name is available for pre-order right now and will be featured on Glimpse TV in a couple of weeks — make sure you’re on the list so you don’t miss it. There are some profound truths about women and power Barbara shared with me that you’ll want to hear.

Barbara reminded us there’s an internal conflict when we say we want something but our  results do not match our desire.

We say we want love, but deep down what we really want is to feel safe. And love feels scary. So we stay single. And safe.

We say we want to lose weight, but deep down what we really want is to feel connected to our family. And our family has always been overweight and judged slim people. So we stay heavy. And connected to our family.

We say we want to get out of debt, but deep down what we really want is to feel like we belong. And our group of friends is always commiserating about how bad the economy is and how hard it is to get out of debt. So we stay in debt. And we feel like we belong.

We all have desires. I, for one, have an insatiable appetite. I bet you do too.

twitter_standingOur desires are sacred. (Tweet It)

Yet it can be incredibly frustrating to have had the same unrealized desire for years, and years, and possibly even decades, and still not have met it.

It’s likely you’ve made a vision board, written your “list”, meditated, repeated your affirmations, practiced guided visualizations, walked a labyrinth or two, penned your Morning Pages, asked for messages in your dreams, pulled Goddess cards, attended a ritual, Feng Shui’d your home, and consulted at least one astrologer/psychic/energy healer/intuitive person.

Am I right?

So why hasn’t “it” freaking shown up yet?

twitter_standingWhen we say we want something but we don’t have it yet, we’re getting something out of not having it. (Tweet it)

This is the critical question:

What do I get out of things staying just the way they are?

What is my payoff for not changing?

Beneath your desire, there’s a deeper desire running the show.

You may want to feel safe, loved, connected, or like you belong. I promise that if you look closely, there’s a deeper need being met by you not going for what you think you want.

These questions are powerful. When you ask them, you might be surprised, and even horrified by the answers. But they’ll be the keys to unlocking the life of your dreams.

For me what has come up when I’ve asked these questions in the past is that my payoff for staying where I am is that I get to be liked. I said I wanted to play bigger in business, but really I wanted to be liked. I said I wanted to unabashedly speak my truth, but really I wanted to be liked. See how this works?

Here’s the good news:

Awareness is all that’s required right now.

Bringing these deeper drives to light for observation is often all that is needed to make a change.

(When I became aware that what was driving me was my desire to be liked, I noticed a positive change in my behavior immediately. I re-calibrated my internal compass to point to growth instead of acceptance. I continue to remind myself that it’s safe to shine and that my true community will love me no matter what. And with each passing day I am indeed playing bigger and bigger.)

You don’t have to “work” on this.

You don’t have to spend years in therapy.

You don’t have to go talk to your inner child. (Though, feel free to!)

Simply ask the questions and be open to what arises.

Inquiry creates awareness. Awareness creates change.

Simple. Elegant. And, if you’re open to it, easier than you thought it would be.

Does this resonate with you? What are you getting out of staying where you are even though you may have said you want to be somewhere else? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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49 comments

  • As always, exactly what I needed to hear, exactly at the time I needed to hear it.

    Thank you for sharing your boundless wisdom.

    Nancy

  • Meredith

    Wonderful ideas, Kate! I’ll have to ruminate on these. I say I want to be out of debt, but I always find myself browsing at department stores and getting expensive coffees. Hopefully, I can get to the bottom of what is really guiding my actions. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Lori

    If I stay where I am, i won’t have to feel responsible for helping brother and his family. I would also find out I my ideas are stupid.

  • Laura

    Thank you so much, Kate! I absolutely love this message and the challenge to keep digging deeper. I know what I want and step by step I’m jumping over every little hurdle that gets in my way so that I can have it. Your encouragement means so much!!

  • Terri Detweiler

    Thank you for this post, Kate. It’s brought on one of those synchronistic moments when I feel it was written specifically for me. Much appreciated!

  • Kristy

    Thank you, Kate, for bringing this forward and sharing it. This really hit home. I say I want to teach yoga and the art of the sacred Feminine as my full-time gig, but what I really want is Approval. I say I want to be wealthy, but what I really want is to feel worthy. So I hide, don’t take risks, play small out of fear of being seen (or worse, ignored) and found lacking, disapproved of. And I spend money to make me feel worthy, to have the outward appearance or trying to get the inner feeling of being worthy, deserving.
    Wow. Powerful stuff. And I appreciate you gave the process to work with it – as my knee-jerk reaction has been to try to make myself better, to Be different. Which hasn’t worked, either. So I am just sitting with this new awareness for now, befriending these two parts of me, these two desires, that are clearly driving my actions.
    Again, so much gratitude. XO K

  • Renae

    I feel lost – I don’t have a clue how to come up with the answers on this. I think I need a self reflection 101 class or something LOL

    • Jamie

      Renae, I feel the same way. Thanks for sharing your comment because I don’t feel alone.

      • Karlo

        Hi I agree with you both that it is a little hard to figure out when you try to find your own answers, but if you really think about it it totally makes sense. For example, for a long time I have been wanting to go back home, that is to Hawaii. The stress of living in NYC can get to me and a lot of the time all I do is stay at home in my room, not doing a single thing. So I say I wanna escape New York and go back home to feel connected with my family, but the underlying need is freedom. So instead of going home where I probably won’t have much freedom (being under the moms constant watch, going back to the same insecure person I used to be, etc), I stay in NYC where I can be single, have no liabilities whatsoever and have all the freedom I want (even though i often complain and feel that I don’t.). I hope that made sense…

        • Renae

          I think my underlying problem with this all is that I have always heard the (untrue) comments of women are less than because of their emotions – and when I see the stuff about wanting to belong, feel safe, feel loved – it is just hard to think of it any other way. But this isn’t a male/female issue – it is a human issue – maybe if I think a little broader in that sense it will click??? hopefully! LOL

      • Renae

        Jamie – there are SO many times that I feel absolutely lost when it comes to a lot of issues like this – I have always felt that I am a strong woman and depend only on myself the last 15 years with raising my sons, doing their activities, working full time, getting my degree, running a household, etc. – I think it just tends to slow me down trying to any self-reflecting – which I am sure has been the absolutely WRONG way to go. I am now to a point where I want to get to the root of some issues but old habits are just darn hard to change sometimes LOL I’m definitely not going to give up trying and I hope you don’t give up either! Good Luck!

  • Thanks Kate for a great post!

    I feel as though staying where I am is giving me benefits that are wonderful but not serving me now. I think underneath is a desire to belong and to not rock the boat, but stepping out will be so much better!

    Thank you for being so honest – it’s really encouraging.

  • This is the best post of yours I’ve yet read! Love love love this! YES to all of this!!! (-:

  • Thank you SO much, Kate, for posting this! It is such a GEM. Often we overlook something that seems too easy, too simple – we want to have to EARN it, work HARD for it – but really the truth is simple. Awareness is SO powerful. I lead juice cleansing retreats in Peru, and we do similar activities specifically around emotional connections to food. This post gives me another angel to look at this – I will definitely share it and pass it on for others to benefit from. Thank you so much! Keep speaking your truth, shining, and sharing!

  • Megan

    You are stunning and adorable. This is a simple and powerful question that I hope unlocks what is keeping me stuck in a few areas in my life. Thanks Kate!

  • This is so good! I also have a deep desire to be liked, and that definitely causes me to play small.

  • Rick

    Hi. I really enjoyed this. I think this is just as important for men to know as well. We all have our goals and desires and men as well can be confused as to what actually is driving dreams, goals, and desires. Thank you for helping me to know this better.
    Rick

  • Great question!! I don’t know my answers but do know that this is the right question! :)

    Interestingly one of my current commitments is to be open to the questions and the answers!

    Thank you so much; a great post.

  • Keren N.

    This is so inspirational and helpful! This is actually the answer to all my questions about myself, and better than years of therapy! And it was written right on time for me:
    Because of your ideas, Kate, I now finally realize that what drives me deep down is my need to be admired and respected by others. I want others to say “WOW” about me, in all respects: both about my internal qualities, and a bit about my external qualities, such as my appearance (I am currently over weight); Having said that, I will also say that I am an extremely shy person, with a low self image.
    I guess that, if I get what you said correctly, that I want to compensate for my lack of self confidence by wanting others to admire me.
    I also have found out about myself because of your piece, Kate, that I don’t care if people feel pity for me, as long as I have their attention. I guess that is why I have recently resigned from my job, after having felt that my superior was not appreciating my extreme efforts to shine on the job.
    I don’t regret having resigned from the job, as I think my boss was suffering from prejudice about my performance because he has known about my disability (it doesn’t show externally). Nevertheless, I now realize that I was unemployed for long periods of time during my adult life, and couldn’t get past job interviews because I was broadcasting to others the feeling that I have a need for others to feel pity for me.
    Kate, the piece of information you gave us has taught me so many lessons about myself, which this page is too short to contain. I suddenly have the knowledge to unlock the lock that has been preventing me from succeeding my entire life. THANKS!!!

  • Love this! Especially love the question you posed:
    “What are you getting out of staying where you are even though you may have said you want to be somewhere else?”

  • This is SO true and it really makes sense for me to look at the deeper level of myself asking for abundance. Thank you for creating this awareness.

  • Dawn

    Security. My job is 3 miles from my home, so I can go home and let my dogs out at lunch time. And I’m afraid I won’t make as much money somewhere else. And I’m kind of a big fish in a little pond here. (even though it’s a pond full of disfunction). I’m afraid that another job won’t pay as much and won’t be as convenient. And Safety. In the past, I’ve made mistakes and regretted job changes, even if the jobs felt awful at the time. Staying here, even though it is killing me and sucking out my soul, guarantees a paycheck that just covers my bills. In the past when I’ve tried for a job that pays more, I’ve made the change and the company couldn’t pay me once I got there and either closed or laid me off. I like being able to pay my mortgage. I’m afraid that if I try for something bigger, it will be another mistake.

  • Dawn

    And if I’m honest, I have to add Love. My family likes that I’m working for a big corporation better than my old life in non-profit. When I mention changing jobs or starting a new project on my own, my father and husband both look like they’re going to be ill. They like the security of my staying here too and say thinks like “if it was fun it wouldn’t be called work.”

  • Sandy

    Great questions that I need to take a deeper look at. I’ve been on a growth and personal development path. To have thought provoking questions like these are really helping me figure out my own true path. Thank You!

  • Your message always seems to come at the right time in my life. Thanks

  • Emilie

    I am afraid of everything: myself, people, situations, success, failure….I perpetuate a life that makes me miserable and joyless just because I am afraid. :(

    • jessica

      Emilie, I do the same. You’re not alone in the struggle, not by leagues. I am working at untying the knots every day. I think you’re brave for speaking out about what isn’t working in your life. I wish you well and hope that you create for yourself the reality you want most, and already deserve.

  • Shirly

    Thank you Kate! I appreciate the essence of the ideas behind as I see myself in ‘patterns and behaviours’ that are rewarding me to stay put then moving towards what I truly desire!
    Taking with me – AWARENESS IS ALL THAT’S REQUIRED RIGHT NOW. Much love xoxo

  • Wow, I so enjoyed reading your message and all of the guests that have chimed in. Nice to know others are on the same page as I am. You all are such a blessing. Thank You.

  • Genevieve

    This was just awesome Kate and so full of truth. Thank you for sharing!

  • […] HERE to read my post from last week about how to clear up the discrepancy between what you say you want […]

  • Pat

    Shift the definition of fear. F.E.A.R. = Feeling Excited And Ready!

  • Pat

    Kate, I have been asking this question since I read this post and I haven’t gotten to my core answer yet. Do you find that you have to keep asking it to break down the layers? For instance, if I’m asking myself what I get out of staying in cc debt? At first I get that that I want to be liked but quickly realize that is superficial as it’s just for image of material things. Then I get to I want to feel worthy yet that still doesn’t seem like the root of it. Now I’m getting I want to be comfortable?! But I’m not comfortable so I’m at an impasse. Any suggestions to move deeper? I have this deep knowing that if I get to the root of it I can be done with it!

  • aandra Bohlen

    Awesome Article

  • Kate, what a great post. Love it: inquiry – awareness – change. It reminds me of the quote that Oprah uses sometimes (it may originate from Maya Angelou) about “When you know better, you do better”.
    I was just laid off from my 3/4 job..and have a 1/4 business of my own. A big part of me has been dying to take the big “leap” into working for myself full-time; but I continue to stay in these incredibly difficult and draining jobs for benefits. I’ve been doing this for so many years, it’s sickening..and if I ask the questions.. I think it is what I deserve. F&*% this! It’s now or never, and benefits are now obtainable at reasonable prices through Obama-care. ~working on changing my internal compass, one day at a time!

  • Kate, you hit the nail on the head for me. This is exactly what I needed to unearth in myself. I’ve been feeling like I am STILL waiting for my ship to come in, doing all kinds of inner/spiritual work and just not quite seeing my dreams come through in physical form yet. It’s funny, because I had asked my angels for guidance and clarity earlier this week and I’ve discovered messages all week that have brought me closer to clarity. These questions were EXACTLY what I needed, like the last piece of a puzzle to see the whole picture. Thank you! Blessings to you. <3

  • Loved this post because you wrote it so much as if it was for me. I’ve done everyone of those things except for walk a labyrinth- so that made me laugh! I also have an insatiable appetite. I’m afraid of making it big because I don’t want to be really busy and lose my freedom (my beliefs anyways).

  • […] work as the “positive intent” of the part of you that would rather you not complete this item. Kate Northrup also recently wrote a brilliant post on the same […]

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