Updated: Mar 4, 2021
In my psychotherapy work with clients, many say to me, "I don't have a purpose," or "I don't know what my purpose is." Lacking a rudder in one's life can be a source of confusion, pain, and even despair. Because language is so powerful in shaping our feelings both positively or negatively, one of my first suggestions is to change the language of their statement to this more positive one: "I have a purpose--it is not clear to me now---but I am on my way to finding it." We start by assuming that they have a purpose and it's waiting to be discovered! Sometimes, the reason they are feeling rudderless is that their purpose may need to shift and they are resisting this, or they have been distancing themselves from their purpose because of fear.
When we know our purpose, we have a sense of meaning in our lives. We know the answer to "why am I here?" We have a built in guide, or our internal compass. This helps us navigate choices, decisions, and crossroad moments in our lives. Working with a therapist can be a helpful way to discover one's purpose. How does that work?
I teach clients how to explore their "inner landscape" from a place of curiosity. We explore these questions: What is the source of your inner fire that motivates you each day? What causes you to get into a "flow" state--a place where you lose track of time because you are completely absorbed in the creation or implementation of something meaningful to you? What inspires you and gives you a buzz of energy? What do you want to be remembered for? If fear wasn't holding you back, what would you step out and try? Ask people who know you well, "What are my gifts?" Spend quiet time alone and ask yourself the same question. Finally, we may explore the "Miracle Question": if a miracle were to occur while you sleep tonight, and you wake up tomorrow knowing what your purpose is, what will be different about you---your actions, your thoughts, what others see in you?
Sometimes a client is afraid of being who they really are and this fear keeps them immobilized and separated from their purpose. We work to uncover subconscious and even unconscious emotions that fuel fear. We work together to clear self-limiting thoughts and beliefs that are blocking their true beautiful self. This clearing of the emotional slate can begin to open up our eyes and our heart to our worthiness. This sense of worthiness helps us to own and value what we uniquely have to offer the world. We realize we are worthy enough to pursue our purpose.
It takes courage to embark upon this exploration of finding our purpose. I know, because life at one point plucked me out of my comfort zone and into a very challenging journey of building a new purpose to guide me in the later years of my life. It can help us to have a partner, such as a therapist or a trusted friend, to consult with along the way. We don't have to travel alone. We weren't meant to do this alone.