Sometimes I get a bad case of the “I don’t wannas.” 

morning, I was getting ready to go to a doctor’s appointment for a routine yearly checkup and I was dragging my feet. I wasn’t afraid of what they might find. I’m healthy and the chances of a problem were low. I just didn’t want to leave the house right then. It was my writing time. And I didn’t know exactly where I was going. They had moved their office recently and my sense of direction is shockingly bad. I downloaded the address into my Waze app, I followed what it said, but I still got lost. It was inevitable.

This is nothing new. When I was about six, I was in my family’s summer boarding house. My father and sister were in the bedroom, he was saying good-night to us, and I had to go the bathroom that was down the hall. I turned right and headed for the bathroom. When I headed back to our bedroom, I walked straight past it and I heard my sister and my father laughing at me. I felt foolish and
unfortunately, that hasn’t changed.

On my way to the doctor’s appointment yesterday, I was filled anxiety, when Waze announced, “You’ve arrived at your destination.” I was obviously there but there were two high rise buildings next to each other and I couldn’t find the street numbers. This kind of thing happens with me pretty often and I have to drive round and round, the reason I leave ridiculously early for my appointments. I considered turning around and heading back home when by some sort of miracle, I found the parking entrance. I took a picture of the letter and number on the wall where I parked so I wouldn’t forget where I left my car. My anxiety was dissipating as I went up in the elevator and headed to the office. The “I don’t wanna” was changing to, “It’ll be over soon.”

I have a friend who can find anything anywhere, but that isn’t me. I know I’m not the only person who faces this particular obstacle. I’m sure plenty of people join me in not wanting to do things they have to do. Maybe it’s about a workout. When I was a twelve-year old girl, I rode for an hour each way from Worcester to Boston four times a week to take classes at my ballet school. I was dedicated, I always went to class, but on the way there, I often felt dread about the energy I was about to put out. I judged myself for having those
feelings and I never told anyone how I felt. I thought I was always supposed to look forward to my training. I figured all the other dancers felt that way, but later, I found out that wasn’t true.

The “I don’t wannas” show up everywhere in life. Not wanting to go to a family dinner because Uncle Arthur always gets drunk, swears and falls asleep on the couch, snoring. Not wanting to dance at a crowded club because you’re so bad at it. Not wanting to write when you’ve vowed to do it every day. Not wanting to prepare your taxes. Being stuck on hold when you’re trying to reach the Department of Water and Power.

When this happens, I don’t try to trick myself into thinking I want to do something, when I don’t. That doesn’t work. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. Instead, I acknowledge how I feel and I might distract myself by thinking about something in the future that I’m looking forward to. Sometimes I pretend I’m someone else watching me and I find the humor in it. Or I might stop swearing
in my head and start treating myself with compassion. I try to change my perspective and give myself a chance to rise above the situation.

I can find several meanings for “I don’t wanna.” First, there is the resistance that I’m talking about above.

Secondly, there is the act of doing something that we’re afraid of. In this case, it’s wise to evaluate the action and see if our natural instinct of protection is warning us about something. Then we can decide if it’s in our best interest to push through the challenge or not.

Finally, we might be forced to do something that hurts us. On a huge scale, concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. If we can find meaning in the things we don’t like or don’t want to do, we can find a reason
to keep going and get through it.”

You don’t have to like doing something difficult. If you pressure yourself too much, you’ll be unhappy about being unhappy. It’s a double whammy and you have choices. You can be angry and resistant, or you can gentle yourself into action even if you feel fear. This is how you change the “I don’t wannas” into “Lookwhat I just did.”

Acclaimed Swiss author, Hermann Hesse, said, “I have always believed, and I still believe that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way, we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

In the spirit of his belief system, we can try to adopt a good attitude about what’s in front of us and attempt to make our way through it. If we can find meaning in it, it will be much easier to accept and carry out.