I was recently writing about my “why”: why I do what I do as a life coach.
In doing so, I was reflecting back on my journey up to now, which, just like everyone’s, has been filled with many chapters, many plot twists, and many (many!) lessons. My work in the world has shifted and changed as I’ve shifted and changed, which has been a lot.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been what one might call a “seeker”: someone who’s been driven (possessed?) to find the deeper layers of truth, both within herself and in life itself.
Here’s a bit of that seeking story…
From my teens to my early twenties, I battled with eating challenges (binge eating). I really wanted to understand WHY I was driven to eat, as well as HOW I might heal that pattern in myself. Through lots of introspection and inner study, over time, I eventually got down to some of the roots of the pattern and was able to shift. But another hunger quickly took hold: the hunger to know myself and what lay underneath the surface of my ego.
In my late twenties, when trying to decide between going to the Peace Corps or getting my Masters Degree in Psychology, I chose the latter. I enrolled in a Masters program in Spiritual Psychology, and no joke, this changed my life profoundly.
Through the program, I learned how to take true responsibility for myself and my happiness on all levels -physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I learned how to show up for myself and counsel myself in a way that I’d never known how to before, thus creating the foundation of a very solid and strong relationship with my Self (the most important relationship in my life, as I see it).
I also learned one of the biggest lessons of my life: true happiness never resides outside of myself (i.e., in a job, romantic partner, more money, etc), but rather, it’s always starts WITHIN first, and then the outside (life) reflects that inner state back to us (the crazy thing to me is that WE NEVER LEARN THIS growing up in our culture! Rather, we learn to try and fill all the voids within us by getting more stuff or trying to find more love or money or whatever. But that’s a different rant for another day :).
WHAT AM I HERE FOR?
By my early thirties, I was almost obsessed with questions like, “What am I here for? What is my deeper purpose? What am I here to give or share in this world?” And these questions plagued me because, for one, I really didn’t know, and two, because one of my values is making a difference, so to not know what that difference was that I was to be making was painful.
By my mid-thirties, I was making great strides on the outer level of life. I’d paid off $30k in debt working at a job I actually liked. I found myself in a truly supportive, loving and awesome relationship with a man I loved. And, I was just starting my own small business as a coach on the side. But the Universe had other plans for me: I was laid off from my cushy job and found myself getting unemployment benefits, not yet able to support myself in my coaching work.
BETWIXT AND BETWEEN (Getting off the hamster wheel)
In this chapter of my life, rather than go straight back to the hamster wheel of work, I chose to get off of it. For a few years, I dove deep into learning about my Soul and how it was trying to guide me (versus how my Ego wanted me to remain in my comfortable little life). I continued to struggle with the questions of What am I here to give or share with the world? How can I serve? I’d have nights where I’d awaken in fear, thinking about how short life is, and wondering if I’d ever be able to share anything of value before I shuffled off this mortal coil. I enacted a Vision Fast (a 4 day ritual of going out into nature alone, without shelter, fasting and praying for a vision to bring back for my people) to help me find my answers, and I spent many, many hours alone, listening for my inner voice and doing my best to follow it.
It was during this chapter, too, that I learned that Soul speaks not so much in words, but in much subtler ways, through feelings, sensations, intuitive nudges, images, etc. I learned the value of slowing waaaay down. I learned that my Ego was very uncomfortable being off of the hamster wheel (of having a “regular job”), but I realized that it was just doing it’s best to try and keep me safe in the (limited) ways it knew how.
This last chapter has morphed into where I am today, a few years later. Of course, I am still a seeker. I still have SO MANY questions, and not a lot of answers. I do feel now, however, that I am on the right path for me, even though there are many (many!) times I question the right next step to take. But I think that’s just life.
What I’ve learned so far is that when I turn within and ask for guidance, and then listen for what comes, I usually find the next step.
And that’s all one really needs…. to just take the next step.