Question from a long-time reader: “I’ve noticed that you’ve been using the terms ‘prefer’ and ‘preferences’ a lot lately, and being okay with your preferences. What does that actually mean to you, and how did you arrive at using that term?”
I see preferences as a powerful way to express needs and wants.
Simply stating my preferences in any given situation feels more confident than saying “I need ______” (not that there’s anything wrong with needs…I say revel in your neediness) and yet less selfish than “I want ________” (and there’s nothing wrong with being selfish and to have and act on wants).
Something I was often told when I was growing up – when I said I wanted something – was, “You can’t always have what you want” and “Life’s not fair.” I interpreted this to mean that if I said or needed or wanted something, I was spoiled or being selfish, and for me, at the time, there’s was nothing worse! It felt like an accusation.
As women, we are told and taught that our preferences (needs, wants, values, etc.) don’t matter; that it’s not okay to have preferences or to state them out loud; and that we must always consider the needs, wants, and preferences of others, above our own. We learned this because that’s what most of the women around us did…and if they chose to clearly express their preferences, they were often punished. Sometimes obviously, but mostly subtly.
The first time I specifically remember using the word “preference” on purpose was when I was making plans to visit my mother in August of 2014. I remember being nervous about telling her I would be staying in a hotel (versus at her home, which is how we always did it in the past). As expected, she pushed back and said it was “silly” for me not to stay at her house. My response was that it was my preference…and that my preferences aren’t silly.
I remember how powerful it felt to claim it. And how free I felt when I honored this preference and stayed at a hotel.
Now I pay attention to and consider my preferences as the basis for the boundaries I want to create.
Something to consider: You may truly believe your preferences don’t matter and that it’s better to be “flexible” and go with the flow. I’m here to tell you that your preferences do, indeed, matter. In addition to your values, they are the basis for your boundaries. It’s not disrespectful to others to have, honor, and express your preferences.
Something to journal on: What ARE your preferences? Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? Do you prefer to fly or drive? Do you prefer Bed & Breakfasts or hotels? Red wine or white? Read the book or see the movie? Aisle seat or window? Pizza or Indian food? Sometimes your preferences will be clear and sometimes you’re willing to be flexible. Keep a running list of your preferences and note when they feel super clear.
Something to practice: State your preferences out loud. Use the actual words, “I prefer _________” when someone asks or when presented with a choice. Get used to cultivating and stating your preferences and see what happens.
I can’t wait to hear how it goes.
Much, much love,
P.S. Speaking of why I use the words that I do, check out this video I made about the word “separating.” Consider subscribing to my You Tube channel…I’ve made a promise to myself that I will create a new video every week! If you have a question you’d like me to answer, hit reply and ask away!
Are you looking for loving and kind accountability in regards to the boundaries you want to create? Consider joining The Peaceful Daughter Community.
Some of my preferences:
I prefer to go to bed early and read.
I prefer a cool (my husband would say “cold”) room to sleep in.
I prefer not to rush, especially in the morning (which means I’d prefer to get up an hour earlier so I can sit quietly with a cup of coffee).
I prefer to stay in hotels when I visit friends and family (with a few exceptions).
If there’s a Bed & Breakfast nearby, I’d prefer to stay there, versus a hotel.
I prefer that friends and family stay in hotels (or their choice of accommodations) if they visit for more than two nights.
I prefer white wine.
I prefer driving to flying.
If I choose to fly, I prefer window seats towards the front of the plane.
I prefer vanilla over chocolate.
I prefer writing to express myself (although I am learning to enjoy speaking).
I prefer making my own meals to eating out.
I prefer Netflix at home to seeing movies in theaters (although I am glad I made the exception for Wonder Woman).
I prefer to air dry for 15 minutes after a shower (especially in the summer) versus drying off with a towel.