Simply knowing the purpose you came here to live is not enough to successfully pursue it. If you are like most of us, internal roadblocks will pop up that cause a push-pull in your psyche. Part of you feels the power of your calling, and part of you wants everything to remain the same.
This misalignment happens because our brains are wired to maintain the status quo. Our biological systems are constantly maintaining equilibrium in areas such as steady temperature and blood pressure. This is a survival strategy to instinctively react to any change in equilibrium as a potential threat. So if your calling keeps inviting you to step up to higher levels of influence and impact, internal roadblocks along with the need to regain inner alignment will continue to arise.
It’s easy to negatively view the parts of yourself that resist change. However, such judgment causes them to go deeper underground and pop out at unexpected, often inconvenient times.
If you instead imagine getting curious about your resistance to change, that will help you uncover parts of your psyche that serve a protective function.
As an example, think of an opportunity where you have mixed feelings, such as excitement and fear. If you’re like most of us, you enjoy the excitement but judge the fear and may even have some shame about it.
Get curious about the part of you that feels the fear. It’s typically a subconscious strategy to keep you safe. How young does that part feel? What is it trying to do for you and what does it really want for you more than anything else? Dialoguing in a chat format will give you a lot of valuable information and understanding.
Once you understand the original purpose for the fear, you can feel compassion for that side of you. And, as you start to appreciate these young parts of yourself you can help them find more productive strategies as a resourceful adult to achieve what they want.
Here’s an example of how a client I’ll call Anne realigned a part many years ago when she was a new teacher. She called it “Part that thinks power is dangerous.”
Anne: Hi “Part that thinks power is dangerous.” Are you ready to talk now?
Part: Yes! I watched what you did with that other part yesterday, and I really want to have a turn too.
Anne: I really want to hear about your concern that power is dangerous. I want to understand it.
Part: I think of myself as the guardian of what’s safe in the world. I don’t want anybody else ever to get hurt the way that we got hurt when we were little. This is really really really important to me. I don’t care if some people are using good power in the world, I couldn’t bear it if even one iota of power was misused by me, not one iota.
Anne: Wow, I really appreciate how important this is to you. I get what a strong value you have on safety and on not letting anyone get hurt.
Part: Yes. I’d really rather that we did nothing in the world than that we hurt anybody. It’s really that important to me.
Anne: So if I understand correctly, what you’re saying is, you’d rather that our potential in this whole life was wasted than have anybody hurt through misuse of our power.
Part: Yes, absolutely. I’m sorry but that’s the way that it is.
Anne: So I think I understand better now why I’ve been feeling this frustration that I don’t seem to be able to express my full capacity in the world. Something seems to keep blocking me from hearing the feedback that I’m a powerful person, and from being more visible in the world. Has that been you?
Part: Yeah! I’m actually feeling kind of pleased with myself about that. I’ve been pretty good at it, haven’t I?! I’ve really stopped things because I don’t trust it. I’m afraid you’re going to get arrogant. I’m afraid you’re going to put people under your thumb, or even just through carelessness you might step on other people. It’s just way too big a risk to take. I just simply couldn’t bear it – I only want our power to be used for good, so I am quite willing to put a stop to everything until my concerns are addressed and I can really trust what’s going on.
Anne: Wow, I really get it. So what do you propose we do next?
Part: Well you know, I liked what happened with the other part where it got to get recognition for the job it was doing and get a fancy new job title. I really liked that.
Anne: Okay, so what job would you like?
Part: I really like the title “Guardian.” I really like taking care of making it safe and be sure that no one gets hurt through bad behavior. I really don’t like bad behavior. It’s really upsetting to me and I really want to protect us and other people from bad behavior. So I want to be the guardian of what’s good. Oooh, I really like that; maybe I can be the Guardian of What’s Good.
Anne: I just feel a lot of love when I hear you say that. It touches my heart what’s important to you and how you take care of vulnerable people and things. I see you as a protector of the vulnerable too.
Part: I think I want to be called “The Guardian.” I have an image of myself as a figure with my arms out protecting the vulnerable ones behind me. It’s a noble job and a very heartfelt one.
Anne: Would you like to give a complete job description so we’re really clear what your job will be going forward?
The Guardian: Okay, here it is. It’s my job, and I agree to, be on the lookout for behavior that could be harmful. This includes behavior that could be harmful to us, because sometimes we have a blind eye to people that we trust without thinking. Sometimes we trust without paying attention to what’s happening or how things feel. By the same token, I want the job of maintaining awareness about how our behavior is affecting others, particularly as we are taking on bigger responsibilities in the world. I want to keep us mindful of how things are received and what happens for others.
Anne: What you’re doing is very important to me, because I share your value too. So I would like to work together with you in partnership around this. Are you willing?
The Guardian: Yes, I’m happy to talk with you about it!
The result of this initial and subsequent conversations was a feeling of a dam bursting and breaking through Anne’s inhibition about stepping into more power in the world. And with that she still got to have a part of her being on the lookout for abuse of power. So she created a win-win with that part of herself that had been holding her back.
Reflecting back on that conversation, the key elements to success were as follows:
- She approached that side of herself with appreciative curiosity rather than judgment
- She learned what its primary goal was
- She supported it in finding a better strategy and name to get what it wanted rather than dictating what it should do
All it takes is curiosity, compassion and persistence to integrate these misaligned parts that keep us from pursuing our purpose.
Where on your purposeful path are you feeling misaligned? You are welcome to take the quick purpose alignment self-assessment below, and start bridging the gap!