Sometimes, we notice that we are lacking something in our lives. Our goals seems elusive and we feel stuck without. Like all people, we want to live a life with meaning and purpose. How do we find the answers we are looking for?
Interestingly enough, we can discover clues as to what our purpose might by examining our problems. As hard as it is to believe, difficulties actually serve an important purpose in our lives. By looking at the absence of meaning, we can infer our true calling.
We may not want the problems we have in our lives. But it is in understanding where we have a lack of meaning and purpose that we allow ourselves to understand what we need to learn and grow from. And it is from this that you ultimately will find your life purpose. Not in what you earn, spend, work, or play. But in how you respond: To your problems, to yourself, and to others. This is your legacy, and this is your ultimate purpose. To overcome, grow, and thrive.
When people die, we don’t immediately remember what they did for work, how much money they made, or how well liked they were. We remember their reactions to other people and to the difficulties in their life. No one ever said, “My Dad was just an accountant.” Instead, they remember how he flew off the handle at everything things and never grew beyond that. Our emotional reaction leaves a wound on life that others remember us by. If ever a life purpose were to be found, correcting and changing that impact in ourselves would be a noble cause.
Know Your Difficulties
Like the fortune teller down the street, we need to explore where we are stuck at in life. Our problems and difficulties can take moments to happen, but their effects can last much longer. We need to look back across time and determine when, and really when, our true problems actually began. If you think you know the moment the issues in your life became a problem, think again. Was this truly the real cause? What did we think, believe, or do that predisposed us to be vulnerable? Finding this out is extremely important, otherwise we can be stuck for much, much longer.
Identify How You Respond to Difficulties
The attitudes that we have about our problems are critical to our healing and changing. The more we stay helpless, angry, resentful, and a “victim of circumstances,” the longer it will take for us to heal and the deeper we will go into the negativity.
Remember, we move toward what we expect and become what we fear. As long as we let fear and resentment run our lives, and the more we fight the problem, the deeper we will go into it. If we continue to fear an outcome, we are actually setting it up to happen.
Reframe and Retrain Your Brain
Thinking differently does not deny the reality of our problems. It just offers a way out along with a new way of coping and thinking. We need to come to understand symptoms and problems differently if we are to rise above them regardless of the limitations that they pose in our lives.
If we respond differently to our problems, we will start to challenge ourselves in ways that we have never before thought of. To make this change, we need to understand how our problems “help and serve us” in ways beyond what may be obvious to us.
If we try to be unrealistically strong, we can actually end up making our difficulties more, and not less, vulnerable. When all of you becomes “too strong”, you actually highlight your weaknesses and advertise them for all to see. Worse, you miss out on understanding an important aspect to who you are and why you respond in the way you do.
Our difficulties keep us safe from ourselves. They slow us down and force us to pace ourselves. Sometimes they stop or hinder us from doing something that might get us into trouble. We can be angry about limitations or we can see them as opportunities to change and face life differently.
Excuses and Justifications
- Problems in our life can keep us from being responsible.
- Problems in our life give us an excuse to to hide away from the real world.
- Problems in our life can hide us from facing the real problems of our lives, such as past unresolved issues, family and marital stressors, work and life stressors.
Anatomy of a Response
- First, we have something happen to us that we never wanted and never would have asked for, ever.
- Next, we have our reaction to the event, along with the impact it leaves with ourselves and others. React negatively, and you will grow in negativity. React in fear, and you will grow in fear.
- Finally, we mistakenly believe that “removing the problem” from our lives will fix everything, when really we will still be “stuck” and vulnerable for the next step of problem that come our way.
In this sense, our difficulties allow us to become aware of the need to change and refocus our life. While we would never have signed up for them if asked, one thing that they did for us was that they were there when we “needed them” to highlight where we are vulnerable.
Give up Negative Self-Talk
…and change to Positive Self-Talk. The more you complain to yourself and others, the more negatives you get in return. Whenever you are faced with difficulties, you can choose to how to react. We might panic, feel dizzy, get outraged, feel like we are going to die, or push ourselves until we have so much pain that we have “proved” that there is nothing we can do.
You can have a lot more control than you think. You can choose to live your life with the “ups and downs” along with “how much” it is going to affect you and your life. If you allow yourself to get caught up in reacting, then you are inviting your problems back into your life at a future point. Remember, whatever we pay attention to will increase in frequency. Again, this does not deny the reality of the problem. However, it offers a way of functioning and living in a more healthy, happy, way.
Life in the Now
If you say, “once this problem is gone, everything will be fine” only postpones your growth. You need to live in the now, with more compassion for yourself in the present.
Problems and symptoms tell us that our life’s path is changing. It is offering us a new and exciting journey.
We only grow through our struggles and facing of problems. They teach us endurance, patience, strength of character. The message is one of choice. To use this, we have to be open to the opportunities, and insights, that problems and symptoms present to us in life.
Remember, we don’t need to have all the answers to our problems before we know our life’s purpose. We will find the answers to our purpose along the way as we grow beyond our reactions. Symptoms can help us, but they can also hinder us. It all depends on how we use them in our lives.
Tell yourself: I don’t have to know where I am going; all I need to know is that I am on my way! Remember that the most important thing to know in dealing with difficulties is in managing our response. This requires honest knowledge and the development of self-compassion.
In the end, our life’s purpose is something that becomes part of who we are, while we are busy not thinking about it. In this sense, we evolve into our life’s purpose, not arrive at it. Our instinct is to react to things, to blame, kick, scream, or yell. But this is one thing that you can’t afford if you want to know, and grow into, your new self. Your life’s purpose.
Photo credit: Pixabay/MartyNZ