TRANSFORMATIONAL QUESTION: Is this what I really want to do?

You always know when your heart is invested in something and when it is not. When your heart is engaged, you have lots of energy and enthusiasm. You look forward to each day and the opportunity it brings. You look at obstacles as creative challenges. Your overall demeanor is positive and hopeful.
     Conversely, when your heart is not engaged, you lack energy and motivation. You find yourself sluggish, bored or even depressed. You can’t wait for 5 PM or the end of your work day and you do not look forward to the next day, unless it is
the beginning of a weekend. Obstacles weigh heavily upon you. Your overall orientation is neutral at best and negative at
worst. You may even be jaded and pessimistic about your life.
     When you look at both results, you can’t help but ask “Why doesn’t everyone follow his heart?” The answer is not esoteric. Many people value security above all else. They are willing to betray themselves for the promise of a steady paycheck with
benefits. They are averse to taking risks, because they do not want to jeopardize their security,
     Most of us are not encouraged to see and develop our talents and gifts. We are not supported in showing up to fulfill our own needs or inner blueprint. Creativity is viewed as nice, but unlikely to put bread on the table. Parents and other authority figures try to guide young people into the established mold where they will find acceptance and be able to make a living. The young painter is encouraged to be a stock broker. The musician is pressured into going to law school.
     Society expects us to fit in and participate in established institutions. It is skeptical about anything new or unusual. Even in America, where innovation is celebrated, the connection between unconventionality and innovation is not seen or valued. No one connects the dots. Unless, of course, name and fame require it. Here, the rich are worshiped, even if they are weird.
     The truth is everyone is weird. Every person has a unique creative blueprint. S/he is here with the potential to fully
individuate and fulfill her creative potential. That means of course that her life will not look like anyone else’s life. Few people are born with the creative drive to express their unique talents no matter what.
     Most people learn to capitulate and accept second best. They take the first career or marriage that is offered to them.
They believe “something is better than nothing.” They settle.
     Twenty or thirty years later, they wake up and ask “What have I done? Why did I accept a career that was not the work of my heart? Why did I accept a relationship with someone I could not experience real intimacy with?”
     Of course, this is not to say that that self-betrayal is a total waste of time. Sometimes we have to go all the way down the
cul de sac to realize that it was the wrong road to take. That is helpful information. Betraying ourselves leads to awakening
after all. So we don’t have to mourn the past. We can learn our lessons from it.
     The transformational question “Is this what I really want to do?” helps understand if we are still moving toward the cul
de sac or if we have begun to retrace our steps so that we can make a choice that honors us. When we answer the question
“No,” we understand that we must stop in our tracks and turn around. The question awakens us. It says “No more self-betrayal.
Follow your heart.”

What You Heart Wants

When you have lived for twenty or thirty years in self-betrayal, seeking to please others and live the life they expect you to live, it is sometimes difficult to get in touch with what you want. You have to be very committed to finding out and very patient with the process.
     Don’t be afraid to answer the transformational question with the words “No, this is not want I want to do.” That is the first step. For years, you answered “Yes” because you wanted what other people wanted for you. You wanted to please and be accepted by mommy, daddy, spouse, and neighbors. You thought self-betrayal was really “unselfishness.” You thought you were living a higher calling, so of course you said “Yes.”
     Now you know that was a load of crap. It wasn’t a higher calling to betray yourself. Other people did not really benefit from your self-betrayal and you gave up a chance to really live your life on your own terms. It really was not such a good deal. You had to lie to yourself and believe that lie to pull it off.
     But no matter now. Please do not beat yourself up for choices that you made unconsciously. Be grateful to the past for showing you what didn’t work. Now you can claim what does. Now, self-betrayal can happen only if it happens consciously.
You have to know that you are giving up your power and do it anyway. Now that you have had the wake-up call, I doubt you would be that foolish.
     Now it is time for you to honor yourself and fulfill your purpose here on earth. And that means no more work or relationships that do not honor you. Empower yourself. Discriminate and hold out for what you want. Do not settle for less.
     This is a time when you must be who you are and stop trying to be the person others want you to be. Let go of old
relationships that support your self-betrayal. Cultivate new relationships that affirm and celebrate your creative freedom,
individuation and self-actualization. Let go of the old dysfunctional family that would hold you to the past. Find the new spiritual family that will help you be reborn.
     It is the destiny of each caterpillar to become a butterfly. When he enters the transformational sack, he gives up being
a caterpillar. It is a profound and irreversible decision. He can no longer go back. He has to push through, grow his wings,
and learn to fly.
     The same is true for you. Once you wake up and see your self-betrayal you cannot do it anymore. The old false self dies
and the new true self is born.

Connecting to Your Desire

The word desire has had a bad rap in western spirituality. The old Calvinistic tradition asks us to overcome or transcend
our desires, especially those of a sexual nature. Sex is not considered good, unless you are married, and then it still isn’t
really good. It is just the weakness of your flesh. As long as you do it out of duty, you will be okay. If you have fun, you
will be committing a sin.
     What a strange way to think and to live, don’t you think? If you think the body is bad and that sex is evil, you probably
aren’t going to enjoy your life very much. You might even live and walk through life with layers of fear and guilt.
     It is time that we understand that desire is the foundation of life. Without desire, there is no energy, no motivation, no
experience. Desire makes the world turn. It makes the heart beat. It enables you to show up and fulfill your life purpose.
Make it bad, condemn it and try to cut it off, and what you have is a poor excuse for a life. Better just dress in black and
go to the funeral. What else can you do?
     The alternative of course is to embrace the body, love the earth and its creatures. Enjoy your sexuality and understand
that it is part of the creative energy of the universe. Your job as a human being is not to resist who you are or deny your
energy, but to be who you are and to channel your energy in a way that leads to your fulfillment.
     Can you imagine a world in which everyone feels turned on, instead of turned off? It would be a far more interesting
and dynamic world than the one we have. A life fully lived is not dry and boring. It is juicy and exciting.
     What kind of life do you want? Do you want to be in touch with your desire energy and engaged in your creative
process? Or do you want to be resisting your desires and showing up out of duty? Do you want fulfillment or sacrifice?
It’s really up to you. It’s your choice.
     People pay a great price by living a life of denial and sacrifice. They become completely cut off from their desires.
They have no idea what they want. When you ask them the transformational question “Is this what you really want to
do?” they don’t have a clue. They know what others want from them, but they don’t know what they want.
     Don’t be surprised if you are one of them. If you are, you need to start with basics. Here are a few questions to get you
going. @ Do you like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream?

  • @ If you don’t like these flavors, what flavor do you like?
  • It you don’t like ice cream, what food do you like the best?
  • If you don’t like food, what do you like?
  • If you don’t like anything, what do you like about that?

Now, if you are able to answer any of these questions clearly and without hesitation, there is hope for you. If not,
you need to stop reading this book immediately and call this number 1-800-HELPPPP!
     I’m just joking. Don’t call that number. You need to get your own number and call it. You need to find out what you
really like, desire, want, and care about. You need to find what turns you on, what is juicy for you.
     Ask yourself “What do I enjoy the most? What brings me joy and pleasure? What am I most passionate about and
committed to?” Whenever you get an answer, find a way to act on it. Follow your heart or, as Joseph Campbell suggested,
“Follow your bliss.”
     If the answers don’t come, keep asking the questions. When your heart understands that the questions aren’t going
to go away, the answers will begin to come.

Living in Joy and Abundance

When you start to honor yourself, the energy of the universe stands behind you. It can never really get behind you as
long as you are living in sacrifice or self-betrayal. It just can’t support that in any one.
     Suppose you were a river and you refused to flow. How could the universe support you? How could the laws of gravity
support you? It just doesn’t compute. Rivers need to flow to the sea. People need to live in joy and creative fulfillment.
     You expend a tremendous amount of energy resisting your life. Stop resisting and the energy is freed to move you
     When you honor yourself, you move in the flow of the universal energy. You move with the current of the river, instead of trying to swim upstream. Your life becomes easier. Things that used to be hard are done easily, without struggle or great effort.
     If you don’t believe this try it with little things. Give yourself permission to have what you really want and see how it feels. Stop withholding love and acceptance from yourself. Be gentle and generous with yourself. Take pleasure in meeting your needs. Don’t feel guilty about it. Just do it and enjoy it. See what happens.
     Ask the transformational question “Is this what I really want to do?” and if the answer is “Yes,” do it. And if the answer is “No,” don’t do it. Ask the question frequently so that you can keep tuning in to what you want and need.      Gradually, you will begin to see results. You will feel better about yourself and others. You will feel more joyful and fulfilled. You will understand that caring for yourself uplifts you and brings energy and joy to others.
     The more you commit to honoring yourself, the more momentum the river of your life will have. You will move more passionately toward fulfillment. You will stay focused on your goals and be able to achieve them. You will begin to experience abundance in all areas of your life. That is the fruit of this practice.

Important Things to Remember

  •  Your desire is the energy source that moves you. Learn to value it and connect with it.
  • Knowing what you want and acting on it is not selfish. It is self-actualizing and brings energy and joy first to yourself, and then to others.
  • Sacrifice and struggle are the yardstick for failure. Joy and abundance are the measure of success.
  • Stop betraying yourself. Stop forcing yourself to do what you don’t want to do.
  • Start honoring yourself. Give yourself permission to have what you want and need.
  • Be faithful and committed to yourself.
  • Nurture and express your creative talents and gifts
  • Let yourself bloom and shine. That is why you are here.

Paul Ferrini Teaching
Key Six: Follow Your Heart