The central piece of the workbook section of The Desire Map
is the part where you figure out your core desired feelings (or CDFs, as Danielle calls them). You start by brainstorming how you want to feel in each area of your life, then she has you think about each word/look up their meanings and see how they resonate with you, and then work on narrowing down your list.
I did the first round of brainstorming, and then felt a little thrill of relief when I started looking up words and many of them had similar meanings. I had an underlying worry that I was doing it "wrong" as I was brainstorming, and the convergence seemed to mean I was doing it right. I narrowed it down to four words. They were good words, good feelings, certainly things I want to feel. And I didn't connect with them. I let them sit on the living room floor at the top of the stack of paper I'd been writing my answers out on, and I just never felt excited about them.
I did what meditation teaches you to do and I started over. I also ditched the rules - Danielle's advice on CDFs is to stick with nouns - and told myself to write down whatever I genuinely wanted to feel, not what I thought would be good answers. I narrowed those down. And narrowed them down some more. And then I had four things. Two of them I was pretty sure about, and two of them I still needed to think about. So I let that list sit on the living room floor at the top of the stack and thought about it off and on. One of Danielle's suggestions for using your CDFs is to, in moments where you're not feeling how you want to feel, remind yourself of how you want to feel. The section of the workbook after figuring out your CDFs has you write down what you would need to feel that way. So one day when I was feeling frustrated and decidedly not how I wanted to feel, I said to myself, "What would make you feel [feeling from my list] right now?" The only one that worked for me was one of the two I was pretty sure about: relaxed. Just thinking, "What would make you feel relaxed right now?" made me relax.
It's taken me a little bit to be okay with relaxed as a core desired feeling. There's a part of me that reacted to it with a "Really? That's all you want?" kind of attitude. I also have a twinge of, "But what if that's just a reactionary wish and not something deeper?" What I actually wrote down for more than one life area was "relaxed (free of tension)," and that seems less like something I want because I want it and more like something I want because it's the opposite of something I really don't want - and something I not only don't want but have been experiencing a lot of in the last few years. But I keep reminding myself that it's still something I want.
The other thing that's happening in my life is that it's summer, and as those of you who have been around for a while know, I don't deal well with the heat. Every summer I've been trying to be better about self-care and being gentle with myself. This summer I decided that part of my self-care and trying to be more relaxed was to ease waaaaaay up on my writing goals. I dumped all original fic goals from my list. I put off making fic goals until after I finished doing prompt snippets at the beginning of July, and then when I made my weekly goals, I decided my official goal was to do some work on AGally/Prusty dating fic every day except Thursdays. My unofficial not exactly a goal was that I would like to write at least 200 words of it every day except Thursdays. Somehow, having the official goal of "just do something" and a word count as an "I'd like to" really works for me. I wrote at least 200 words of it most days. Just as importantly, on the days that I didn't make it to 200, I didn't feel anxious or stressed out about it, and because my actual goal was to write something, it didn't push any of my "you're a failure" buttons.
There's one more piece to my current strategy, which is something I picked up from Gretchen Rubin. I don't connect quite as much with her current focus on habits as I did with her happiness work, but there's one thing that's working for me. Her habits work is divided into various strategies. One of these is the "Strategy of Treats," and she wrote a post
for diet and weight talk) about it where she says, "If we want to stick to our good habits, we should try very hard never to allow ourselves to feel deprived. ... When we give ourselves plenty of healthy treats, we don’t feel deprived." In one of her other posts
on the Strategy of Treats, she says, "A treat is different from a reward, which must be justified or earned. A treat is a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it." I changed my habits because of this. Before, I wasn't allowing myself to do anything purely for fun in the mornings until I met my writing goals - checking Tumblr and fic reading were rewards, and writing fic was a reward for doing my original writing. But that always made me feel deprived. I've really changed my approach now in that I will check Tumblr and maybe read some (short) fic first thing in the morning, and then write.
Since I've made several changes all at once (this is a highly unscientific process), it's hard to tease out exactly what's making the difference - or if it's all of it put together - but I find myself feeling more relaxed in general, more relaxed about my goals, and much less resentful of my goals.