One of the most common complaints or issues that people share with me that they are struggling with is along the lines of “I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” followed closely by “I have no idea what my purpose is, and I feel like I’m just drifting through my life.” The economic times seem to be adding to the distress of that kind of question. People who are getting clear that they are not living a life that is congruent with who they really are often describe feeling trapped, particularly in their careers (and often in unhappy relationships where financial stability is seemingly at stake).
This gets so tricky, because we believe what our minds tell us. For generations, men have been conditioned to believe that the sure-fire way to “success” is to strategize, plan, and think their way into their destiny. It’s become clear that more and more women are trying to adapt to this same fashion of self-actualization. To me, it’s a human condition or dilemma that causes so much suffering, confusion, and inertia…particularly to the degree we’re fanatical about preserving our control of how our lives are going.
I recently heard someone share how they’ve been feeling more and more (though they’ve actually been thinking, and confusing it with feeling) like their life may be over, because they’ve had such a hard time finding a job in the field that they’ve worked in for many years. In listening to this person, it was clear that they’ve actually considered that this could be a reality. I’ve even been there myself in my past.
When faced with so much seeming instability, uncertainty, or even “real” circumstances like unemployment, the knee-jerk reaction for so many is to go to into raw, primal survival, followed by intense thinking and mental strategizing for solutions, followed by much more disappointment, dejection, and internal terror. When this is going on, one of the key doorways to finding an opening, some relief, or openings to possibilities and transformation is to start with doing whatever it takes to remember who you really are. (By the way, it also helps to be sure you’re checking in with what’s really real and what’s a fear-based projection of what you think is going to happen).
More and more people have forgotten something so basic, the forgetting of which creates so much needless suffering and blocked creativity and generatively: we are not what we do or how much money we have in the bank. Those things are only outward expressions of who we are. They’re important, to be sure…we do need money to eat and have shelter. Yet, who we are is what sources the clarity and direction we are starving for when we, ironically, get disconnected from who we really are at times like losing a job. Who you are is not your circumstances, be they terrific or seemingly in the toilet. Who you are is your Spirit, your soul that gets the opportunity to grow and expand its depth and wisdom through having human experiences.
Our connection to our Spirit-self, if you will, is only (at least in my experience, thus far) able to be experienced in our hearts…which requires being connected to our bodies. When you’re lost in the hall of mirrors between your ears, trying to figure your way out of your survival panics, you’re not likely connected to your body…at least not below the neck. So, much of what you’re “figuring out” is likely to be your mind turning in on itself, relying on decades of conditioning to come up with an answer. Yet, without connection to who you really are, any solutions have a real chance of being the equivalent of a house of cards.
So, what do you do when you’ve forgotten yourself, find yourself losing sleep, overeating, feeling like three rungs below plankton on the self-worthiness scale, and isolating in your man- or woman-cave staring at the boob tube for your main source of connection, inspiration, and human contact? Here are a few suggestions to start with, all of which will take high intention on your part, most likely…so be forewarned:
Call 3 of your best friends – you know, the ones that will tell you the unvarnished truth, with love, whether you’re going to like it or not – and ask them to tell you 3 things that they admire and love about you. One critical thing, though – ask them to give you three examples of you being what they admire and love from actual experiences you’ve had together. That way, your mind won’t tell you they’re just being nice. Do your best to let it in.
Take 15 minutes, right now, to make a list of the things that – had you all the money you could possibly ever need or want – you’d want to be able leave behind as a legacy you’d feel proud of on your deathbed, focusing especially on those things that have nothing to do with Do-ing and everything to do with Be-ing. Keep that where you can see it each day, and when chips get down, read it religiously every day to remind yourself of how your Spirit longs to express itself.
When you’re struggling – particularly with money issues, employment, or feeling good enough for your partner and yourself – rally your community around you…friends, former co-workers you’ve stayed friends with, your Spiritual community, your partner, your men’s or woman’s group…and ask for their support. Your ego is going to SCREAM at you not to do any such thing. But, believe me, failing to do this is one of the more sure-fire ways to ensure you’re going to just stay miserable, start believing your Ego’s own PR, and delay your growth and joy beyond reasonable limits. We cannot do this life alone, and all that American ethic of self-determination failed to take into account it’s just plain easier to allow yourself to be raised and lifted by that there village…no matter how old you are.
Lastly, when you find yourself sitting there thinking your life is over because your old picture of reality and who you are (from the ego’s position, anyway) seem to be shattered, see what happens to how you feel when you begin to exercise your right to choose how you relate to anything, and start relating to your seemingly s**tty circumstances as the opportunity your Spirit’s been waiting for to come back to itself and help you hear that out-of-the-box idea that will create a life beyond what you’ve yet experienced. I promise it’s possible…I did it when it became clear that my corporate career was going to kill me if I didn’t get out, and this E-zine – and the lives I’ve been privileged to contribute to expanding for the last 15 years – is testimony to what happens when you listen to your heart, and allow your head to follow.