You’re not alone if you feel like you’re just rambling your way through life, with no real sense of purpose or direction.
Unfortunately, our society often requires us to ignore our deepest needs, so that we can adapt and become the acceptable, conventional, reliable version of ourselves. It makes us forget who we really are so that we can become who we’re supposed to be.
The good news is, there’s an alternative path. That path demands a great deal of courage and resilience, but it gives us the freedom we desire in return. I’ve chosen that path and I couldn’t have made a better choice.
Until a few years ago, I was living in autopilot. I had no dreams or long-term goals. All I knew was that I needed to find a job that would allow me to move out of my parent’s house and finally become independent. I didn’t care about being happy or finding my purpose because I was in survival mode.
But the Universe works in mysterious ways, and it has the amazing habit of forcing us to see what we’re ignoring.
Usually, what we’re ignoring is a deep, painful reality that’s too overwhelming for us to deal with, but that will serve as a catalyst for the transformation we’ve been unconsciously longing for.
If we’re brave enough to face that reality and let our wounds heal instead of ignoring them, the Universe will reward us with an infinite amount of energy and inspiration to pursue our dreams. It will make us cross paths with the tools, books, teachers and circumstances we need in order to grow.
One of my life teachers has been Dr. Lindsay Gibson, whose books have helped me immensely and whose wisdom is worth sharing.
In Who You Were Meant To Be, she describes 6 tools of self-discovery that can help us reconnect with our true self and rediscover our purpose. I hope these tools will help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1. The Tool of Energy Shifts
We’re so used to living in autopilot that we’ve stopped paying attention to our energy levels and how they communicate with us.
Feeling tired, drained or bored when doing something is not an accident — it’s a sign that activity doesn’t bring you joy and enthusiasm. On the other hand, when you get involved in a topic or idea that stimulates you, you feel a clear increase in your energy.
Think about it. When you really, really want to do something, when you’re bursting with excitement, you can’t even sleep. At least that’s what happens to me when a thousand creative ideas pop into my mind, or when I know I’ll be boarding an airplane to Bali at 6 in the morning.
Normalizing boredom or forcing ourselves to enjoy something may make things easier in the present, but it’s not sustainable in the long run if we truly want to get in touch with our purpose.
2. The Tool of Recognition
If you catch yourself constantly making comments about a particular subject or skill, specifically comments like I could do that or that could have been done in a different way, it means you’re recognizing your own skills — even if it’s not a conscious process.
Dr. Gibson gives us some practical examples using two of her clients:
“Robert, a client of mine who was a frustrated actor, was unable to watch television programs without thinking about how he would have played each scene. It was such a normal part of Robert’s television viewing that he had never realized what this was indicating.
Bettina, a young woman who wanted to become a children’s book illustrator, could not read her daughter a bedtime story without analyzing the painting technique in the pictures, or whether or not the illustrator style fit the tone of the story.
These people were recognizing the occupational skills needed to express their underlying life purposes.”
3. The Tool of Envy
This one is obvious, but unfortunately we don’t take advantage of it.
Envy is a feeling we get when we recognize something that could be ours but for some reason it’s not. It’s what we feel when we see someone enjoying the kind of life we wish we had.
Who makes you envious? Which qualities and possessions make you feel like wow, I wish I was that lucky?
Here’s the thing: we build our own luck. If we manage to use envy the right way, instead of feeling jealous or resentful, we’ll feel hopeful because the people we are envious of are actually mirroring back at us our own abilities and possibilities.
I realized that I’d always get envious of people who could work from anywhere in the world without worrying about being tied to one particular place for most of their time. This feeling helped me recognize that I was tired of trying to adapt myself to fit in a system I was not meant for.
4. The Tool of Appeal
Maybe you’re not necessarily envious of someone, but you definitely feel attracted or admired by what they’re doing.
Being around people who feed your inspiration helps you acknowledge the vision you had for yourself before societal norms and family expectations were a thing. Dr. Gibson explains it this way:
“Appeal is the attracting pull that desirable people and things exert upon us. In a store, some items appeal to us, while others are passed over without a second glance. In a room full of people, we sneak peek at a certain person because there’s something about him or her that we find appealing. This subtle experience is a reliable guide, nudging you toward something or someone who reminds you of what you need.”
5. The Tool of Physical Response
We’ve already talked about how a heightened sense of energy is a clear sign of your purpose, but what about your body feelings? What about tingles, or feelings of warmth and physical lightness?
Our body has an amazing ability to let us know what’s meant for us and what’s not. When you’re moving away from the right direction, you inevitably feel irritability, depression, headaches or nausea. These are signs you’re not following your intuition.
I’d always get cranky and frustrated for not having the time and the freedom to be with myself and listen to my own thoughts, specially in the mornings. As an introvert, I deeply treasure my alone time — in fact, I need it. Otherwise my energy levels will drastically drop.
Seeing everyone around me constantly in a hurry made me think there was clearly something wrong with me, so I’ve spent years trying to fit in. Now I know I should have learned to trust my body and my gut feelings sooner.
6. The Tool of Mental Response
Just as our bodies respond to what we like, so do our thoughts. According to Dr. Gibson,
“If you are considering an interesting career that fits you well, you will probably experience hope, optimism, and a sense of possibility. Uplifting fantasies will pop into your mind about how it would be to live that way. These pleasant and stimulating mental responses occur when you’re on the right track, moving toward your true purpose in life.”
If you’re connected to your true, authentic self, these tools seem pretty obvious. You’ve learned to listen to your intuition and follow its guidance.
The problem is, most of us are not trained to connect with our inner world, let alone trust it. Instead, we’re programmed to follow the rules, stay in our comfort zone and do what’s expected of us without ever questioning if we’re moving in the best direction.
These tools validated my intuition and made me realize that I am finally, for the first time in my life, doing what’s best for me.
I hope they help you too.
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