The difference between have-to and want-to

After meeting up with my friend yesterday I realised: I want a day off. When I wrote values to the rescue, taking a day off still felt a like “I need it, so I HAVE to do it”. Which set off the automatic response I’ve described in the horse shoe of have-to: “I don’t want to“. I needed a day off, but didn’t want one…

Some time to make me feel good
Because I was snooping around on Facebook and blogs, I realised I felt the need for connection. So I phoned a friend and we met. After that, I had planned to get some work done. I didn’t want a full day off, remember? Just some time to make me feel good.

Throwing things away for fun
Earlier that day I had had the weirdest experience. In the decluttering group, the prompt was to throw away something. At first I looked at it as ‘not my thing’. I had decided I needed fun today, and how much fun is it to throw something away? Then I realised I actually liked the thought of throwing things away. I was in an angry mood, p*ssed off that I was tired and had to adjust my plans Throwing stuff away was perfect for that feeling of anger. Mind you: the thing I chose had been on my to-do list for ages. It just never had priority, and I never had the energy. Now it was exactly what I needed. It had changed from something I felt I SHOULD do, in something I WANTED to do. Look at these before and after pictures:
Before, part 1
After part 1
I threw away a number of too small totally worn children’s shoes, and it felt great. They were just taking up space and nagging at my brain. I also threw away my once favourite red suede boots. I was sad to throw those away, but they weren’t wearable any more. I only kept them because they were my favourite shoes ever and I liked how they looked. It’s amazing what’s possible when you ditch resistance – throwing away things turned into fun!

Have to becomes want to
Back to my idea of getting things done. Meeting up with my friend worked really well. We talked, ate lunch and had fun. I stepped out of my stress zone. When I came home, it dawned upon me: I WANTED a day off. There was no good reason to wait until tomorrow, when I’d have exhaustion as a great excuse. I might as well take one now, and maybe get my things done tomorrow. Taking a day off had changed from ‘I have to’ into ‘I want to’. That felt so much better!

How to feel what I want
I’m guessing meditation could have had the same effect as meeting up with my friend: taking me out of my stress zone and reconnecting me with what I wanted.
I have known about the difference effect of ‘I have to’ versus ‘I want to’ for a long time. I knew how to substitute the words for each other (I have to → oh no, I have to want this → I want to). Today I realised that I have to search for I want to in a different place. Before I can feel what I want, I need to make room for my feelings.

I have too many inner people running the show otherwise.

I got a strange reward for taking my day off. Around dinner time a potential disastrous fight was developing in my household. I had patience, energy and clarity to deal with all the angry people (including my worried self). I stayed calm, took people apart, talked to one, then the other, and after everyone calmed down we had a nice evening together. I was SO relieved, and SO proud of myself for being able to do that. I know for sure that couldn’t have done it without my day off.

11 thoughts on “The difference between have-to and want-to

    1. Angela van Son Post author

      You’ve visited my official site, thank you! I’m doing my daily blogging here, on my old blog, because I want the freedom to publish posts that are imperfect. Spelling, grammar and lay-out are less important than getting my daily post done. But I’d feel embarrased about those mistakes on my official site.

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  3. TooFullToWrite

    I’m actually moving through the emotions that you speak of above and it does feel good to remove things that I will never use and are not useful enough to be filed away. I have some books that I don’t think I will ever read again and since I have limited shelf space, they need to go in the recycling or donated to the charity shop. I feel a lot happier and calmer when space presents itself, especially after a long period of time when I have wanted to remove something but not had the opportunity to do it. I enjoyed how this post played out and how taking a day off with your friend helped your family life too. Everything is so well connected and deeply ingrained into our lives that doing the simplest of things for ourselves and spending time with our friends can have such a positive influence on our well-being and lives in general. It truly is remarkable and you should feel proud of what you achieved on this day and how very well you handled it 🙂

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    1. Angela van Son Post author

      I’m finally ready to revisit these blog posts, and respond. I’m so grateful that you wrote to me, even when November was finished. Reading your replies and their positive energy will make a great starting point for finishing this project.
      I’m not sure if I’ll blog about it again. On the other hand: it really helped me the last time!

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      1. TooFullToWrite

        You are always very welcome Angela 🙂 I still have several more of your posts to read and have been delayed in doing so but will start on them next week. I’m finding your posts very instructional and full of useful wisdom to explore as I continue to try to organise the chaos in my own life. It is very calming and rewarding to start to pull all the threads together and make progress with things when your thoughts and goals are more structured than they have been in the past. I’m grateful for the help that you have provided in my life and if my words also do the same for you then I’m so happy that they do and long may that continue 🙂

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