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The meaning of life vs. the purpose of life

The meaning of life vs. the purpose of life

‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it.’

 

You may have seen this quote about the meaning of life on social media. Most often it is attributed to Picasso, although I understand the source is debatable.

But the sentiment is simple. And as a guide for life, it is profound (in my opinion).

For most of us, this gift is revealed and honed over the course of life.

The process of revelation can be likened to a dance between the questing and the giving.

As Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with A Thousand Faces puts it, the call is to become a Master of the Two Worlds.

As I see it this journey of mastery is actually about both mystery (the feminine aspect of this accomplishment)  and mastery (the masculine aspect.) The mystery prompts the questing. Mastery prompts the giving.

Mastering the two worlds requires attention to polarities.

Too much emphasis on mystery and you may frustrate your purpose. Too much emphasis on mastery and you may lose touch with life’s meaning.

 

Status and success vs. significance

Status and success vs. significance

Recently, Ive been contemplating status and success vs significance.

That bird in the photo… I doubt that he or she contemplates success. But a bird carries significance. It has an important role to play in the balance of nature.

And it plays its role well. A bird is always true to its bird nature.

But, humans are different.

Add cultural conditioning and most of us are out of sync with our true nature and natural energy balance.

Success and status permeate our cultural conditioning.

Have you noticed the different language used for success vs. significance? People chase or attain success. They seek significance or make a significant contribution.

Early in life, success and significance get confused. Chasing success often hides an unconscious search for significance.

The mistaken belief is that success will bring validation from others – and therefore status. This belief is a poor substitute for the genuine feeling and knowing of significance.

It is not uncommon to hear stories of successful but unhappy and unfulfilled people. Unconscious searching for significance, via success, has an enormous trap.

When there is a high need for external validation, a person is more likely to sacrifice their personal values and integrity in order to maintain the status quo. In other words they end up being valued for the wrong things. I confess to falling into this trap – more than once.

What may begin in childhood, in order to stay safe and to belong, has a nasty habit of continuing into adulthood, with disastrous consequences. Toxic relationships. Burnout. Poor choices that undermine self respect.

But, personal crises can serve as an initiation to the true journey, hinted at in myth, stories and parables through the ages. Mapped out for us all by Joseph Campbell in the 20th century. He called it the Hero’s Journey.

We are unwittingly captivated by the potential of this journey, which is invisibly wired into us. Many of our most loved films capitalise on this by basing their plots on the Hero’s Journey model. (Applies for heroine’s too.)

As a transformational coach, I use this model with my clients, supporting them on their lifetime adventure to realise their true nature, from which can flower more effective expression of their unique gifts through work and in relationships..

You could say that the success of this journey is the discovery of True Significance.

True Significance does not come from external sources and especially, it does not come from self sacrifice. It comes from deep knowing and being faithful to a sense of purpose. And that journey is lifelong.

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

The American eclipse was big news last month.  My topic this month is what it means to experience a personal eclipse. 

A personal eclipse is a sudden change of direction, perhaps seemingly forced upon us or perhaps following an inner change of heart. The path we were on ‘gets eclipsed’ as a result.

In my experience, this feeling of something being eclipsed, while disorienting, is usually an indication that something in life needs to be reconsidered.

What you may not know about me is that 3 years ago I trained to be a wedding and funeral celebrant.

By chance, the first 2 funerals I conducted were for people of my own age. Thankfully, also by chance, so was the first wedding!

Of course, this made me think about my own life and what was important to me. And I realised, that while I enjoyed being a Celebrant and being of service to others in marking a rite of passage, I did not want to make such work into a full time occupation. It didn’t give me the same feeling of being ‘on purpose’ that I was lucky to experience when working as a coach and consultant earlier in my career.

I realised that I was making choices based on what made sense, given age and skills set. But, my deepest interests were hidden under limiting beliefs, such as ‘I’m too old’ or ‘it’s too late’ or ‘I haven’t got the resources’ for that type of business offering again.

Limiting thoughts and feelings are much easier to address once acknowledged. Since I’ve retrained as an Awakening Coach, and shifted the personal obstacles in the process, I feel ‘on purpose’ again.

For most people that feeling of being ‘on purpose’ makes a huge difference and is needed at every age and life stage.

If you have been experiencing a personal eclipse (which may be associated with the celestial one) ask yourself what might be needed for you to feel on purpose. And if you are in the middle of a life transition, as I was, it’s ok to consider a few options. But, please look carefully at your limiting points of view before deciding to believe them!

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt?

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt?

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt? Is the secret to maintaining passion, sustaining a sense of purpose and using personal power effectively linked to keeping innate hunting instincts honed? 

I’ve been thinking about this recently, reviewing some of my own experiences and observing others around me. This contemplation began while watching the reality tv show Love Island! (my vice this last month)

Love Island wasn’t exactly a ‘back to the wild’ show. Far from that, a group of young, attractive singles are housed in a luxury villa in Majorca. The basic aim is for them to couple up over the 7 weeks of the show. There are challenges and twists, people being voted off and new islanders arriving by surprise etc.

I became fascinated by the journey of transformation that some of the contestants experienced and the clever way the whole show was constructed. The contestants may have been in a luxury ‘fishbowl’, but the behaviours were ‘back to the wild.’ The hunting process was clear.

There was the initial search as both girls and boys preened, showed off, flirted and claimed the person most attractive to them. Then there were the dances of power – arguments, games, alliances and resistance. And there was surrender when some let their guard down and bared their vulnerable hearts. Of course, that had to happen before the relationships became believable to the voting public. (My vice did not include voting.)

It seems to me that these 3 stages –  hunt (or quest), resistance, surrender – are essential for remaining in the flow of life and love, irrespective of whether the hunt is for a partner or for the renewal of passion for work or for enlightenment or for a wild animal to feed a tribe. The hunt infuses a sense of purpose. Some resistance is normal (to the process or from the ‘hunted’). But, re-newal, transformation and being ‘fed’ only happens following surrender.

Modern life does not help us to keep the hunting instinct sharp. I suggest that hunting skills get dulled by online shopping, take away meals and other conveniences. It’s hard for most people to stay in touch with the power of their wild inner core.

If we lead a defensive life, constantly in resistance, we are not honouring the cycle. We may experience stagnancy, repeated false starts and ensuing despair.

All of my mailing list will be too old to sign up for the next season of Love Island. Your best option to keep your hunting skills honed could be through your commitment to personal and spiritual growth!

Awakening is one thing that is not made easy for us in western culture. It’s not even valued! Maybe we should be thankful for that. This is one area of our lives where effort must be made, where we must develop the courage to turn against the status quo and the inner strength to face our personal set of resistances.

A person that engages fully in the type of personal journey that yields results must honour the 3 steps I’ve mentioned. A personal challenge may initiate a hunt for the right teacher, healer, coach or therapist. Certainly discernment must be exercised. And then we must watch for the inner resistances that impede progress.

There’s no passion in resistance, no passion in trying to control outcomes and no passion in not stepping forward in the first place.

I had a recent personal experience with my current coach who did not let me off the hook with a challenge to remain in the flow of my passion with regard to my work.

Initially I felt misunderstood and therefore resistant to his suggestions.

I did some parts work. (Parts work is a structured process and also offered an as an aspect of Awakening Coaching.) I dialogued with my ‘passion part’ and also with a ‘heartbreak part.’ There was nothing wrong with the passion part, which has plenty of ideas! But the heartbreak part said, ‘every time you allow passion free rein, heartbreak is the result. I’m protecting you.’

The unconscious limiting belief was thus revealed! And that had to happen before the brake that my coach was pointing to could be removed.

The impediment was inside me and not with the coach or the programme. There was something that I hadn’t seen that a good coach put his finger on. It’s always a shock when another reveals that which you have unconsciously been trying to protect. But, surrender and vulnerability are the keys to a breakthrough.

How about you? What I point to affects most of us, particularly in mid life during when duty and responsibility demands often take precedence over the wild longings of the heart and soul.

Apparently, the Love Island final had the highest viewing of any ITV2 show ever. I think I know why.

To begin the re-claim of passion, purpose and power, please reply to this mail. Let’s have a chat to discuss how my coaching can help with your unconscious limitations.

I’m off for a week of ‘back to nature’ camping and communing with a group of women in the wilds of Wales. My wild ‘hunting skills’ will be extra sharp when back! 🙂

Premium travel at your personal edge? Or status quo economy?

Around 8am in the morning of May 3rd, I was eating breakfast in Pret-a-Manger at London Heathrow, Terminal 3….

Some of you will no doubt consider me somewhat weird when I disclose my love of airports.

I admit that I have travelled more for my own purposes than I have for business reasons. This may be why I have retained a fascination for people watching and window shopping that transcends any frustration or boredom, should I experience long queues or flight delays.

What I noticed on the morning of May 3rd was how alive I felt, despite the early morning start a 10am flight necessitates.  I remembered a remark from a colleague some years ago. When I told him I liked airports, he’d said, ‘That makes sense Cathy. You like transitional, edgy places.’

So true. The thing about transitional, edgy places is that they are full of possibility and potential. I think this is what airports represent for me. Whether I am departing to a far flung destination or not, the thrill of adventure and the unknown is present as I look at the departures screen.

New environments bring new perspectives. When we travel we may encounter unfamiliar situations that force new and creative responses. In the process, we may also have to face our fears and reactive patterns. We can feel more alive when we explore new ways of being and doing. We will also feel more alive when we unravel the habitual patterns that have caused repeating problems in our lives.

But the status quo is a formidable opponent to growth. When we return to a familiar comfort zone, we literally lose our edge. It is harder to act on insights received at edgy places from the midst of the demands of familiar, daily life.

There are times in life when the comfort and stability of the status quo is necessary and enjoyable. However, when our comfort is punctuated by longings for adventure, we might consider what part of ourselves is lying dormant and asking for expression.

While a holiday might ‘take the edge’ off that hunger for a short while, we will soon be back. Unless we’ve worked out what needs to change while we are away and acted on it, we may soon be re-experiencing the signals for the need for change, such as boredom, tiredness, frustration or restlessness. There may even be depression if a situation has become chronic.

After I boarded my flight to Philadelphia on May 3rd, I took out my phone and headphones and recorded the insights that form the basis of this newsletter. I didn’t want to lose them. By the time the plane was in the air, I’d also recorded insights regarding choices I need to make with regard to my own direction over forthcoming months. That included a decision re the right coaching support to invest in for the next phase of my life and work.

My question to you this month is to ask whether you are in touch with your growing edge? Are you feeling excited as you engage with the frontier of your life? Or, do you need help to decide where the frontier is? Or, having found the frontier, have you discovered inner saboteurs that seem to lie in wait to persuade you that the status quo really is acceptable?

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who is selling the house that his grown up children and elderly mother are fond of. They would rather he didn’t sell. But, he has strong personal reasons to make a move that he has delayed for some time.

He said, ‘The status quo is no longer an option.’ I thought that was a great statement!

For a house move, the appropriate support comes from estate agents and solicitors. But, personal edges, which challenge us to call forward underdeveloped parts of ourselves in order to shift our work and relationships to new levels, are different.

Is it wise to wait until a crisis brings you to a forced edge? Might you prefer the premium choice of hiring the support of someone who can keep both keep you in touch with the potential of your growing edge and support you as you make changes? If there’s a part of you that knows you have inner challenges to address in order to make outer changes, coaching can shift you out of a vicious cycle or a downward spiral.