MindsetPersonal Growth

Why Finding Your Purpose Advice Doesn’t Work and What to do Instead

A life without purpose is a life without soul. Empty, automatic, aimless, unsatisfying. The antidote to that is taking action to contribute to a meaningful cause. But how do you find your way to that? What got lost? When did it happen? 

The only inkling we have that something might be wrong is that deep dissatisfying feeling we have that something is missing, or that we are capable of more but cannot seem to figure it out or find it. For me it was an aching, like when you go to speak but nothing comes out. It felt like there was a torrent of unexpressed ideas, undefinable energy that was waiting to burst forth but I had no idea where to start. All the advice about finding your purpose were confusing, dissatisfying and simple. I couldn’t reconcile the sensation I had, of being capable of more, with the mechanical exercises for finding your purpose that was being offered on the internet. 

The Awakening

Everyone has one right? Mine was precipitated by many events but the biggest thing that cracked this nut wide open was the understanding that we all have deep wounds caused by cultural trauma, and perpetrated by caregivers. How is my purpose tied to this you might ask? Because behind all the well-meaning ‘find your purpose’ exercises there is a fundamental problem that we are trying to address. That we have somehow become disconnected with our inner self and have lost our soul. And while all the well-meaning find-your-purpose advice does seek to reconnect you with that inner self, the reasons for that divide in the first place is one that is fundamental to understand if you are to really find your purpose. 

Somewhere along the line we became disconnected from who we are. We became disconnected from our own soul. Instead we became human forms moving about in space and time but completely unaware of the voice within us and the energy all around us. We chose only to see and to understand the tangible, and we completely ignored and were not encouraged to cultivate a relationship with our soul. 

As a result, we became divorced from our intuition, and true desires. We became strangers to the forces that influence and support us in different ways, that we interact with, and of which we are emergent from but completely out of touch with. Instead we succumbed to the ideas that divided us from our self and imbued upon us limiting beliefs and a stunted understanding of what we are capable of. 

That’s why, when I finally learned that culture was a construct and that I myself was suffering the trauma of such a severance from my inner self, that I was finally able to move forward towards my purpose. 

Reclaiming the Narrative

How can you really say trauma here? Am I really a victim of trauma? I felt guilty, how could I be suffering any type of trauma? There is real and well documented intergenerational trauma caused by systemic and cultural oppression. As someone who had a very privileged upbringing, even though I am a person of colour, it was a shock and an uncomfortable admission to suggest that I could also claim to be suffering some type of cultural trauma, but here is how it goes. 

Ever heard of limiting beliefs? These are the thoughts and ideas that can hold us back, ideas that you may not be good enough, worthy enough, smart enough, fast enough, thin enough, rich enough etc etc. Not enoughness. These are all beliefs that hold us back and it wasn’t until I understood where they came from that I was able to finally reclaim my power over the narrative. Because for so long, those well meaning but superficial advice to just rewrite the story in your head didn’t work for me. I couldn’t make it stick without the fundamental understanding that culture is a construct and one that has caused harm not only in my own life but in those of my caregivers and millions of other folx who have been systemically and culturally oppressed for generations. 

From the moment we are born we are indoctrinated by a culture and set of norms that we neither choose nor is mindfully bestowed upon us. And from that moment on, our awareness of the divinity that has given us life, the magic and the miracle of a soul and it’s material human partnership are slowly severed, cultural norm by cultural norm. We become alienated from whatever soul-nourishing guidance that may have been offered and trust only the physical manifestations of what we can see, touch or study. We lose that inherent sense of knowing, we forget to trust our intuition. 

It seems such a small thing but I know now how early it was when I lost my inherent knowledge. I was 10 or 11 years old and I was about to microwave something, a glass of milk perhaps, but I was stumped. I asked my younger sister, “how long should I heat this for?”, to which she quickly answered while staring at me in disgust/disbelief. How could you not know?! her face said. I literally did not know. I did not know, not because I forgot, or that I hadn’t done it before, (I’d reheated my glass of milk many times before), but because I had no inherent knowledge. I had lost track of my soul and any connection with my inuition.

Finding A New Way

We drink from the dominant white culture fountain and we know nothing else. We don’t even question it because we’re not even aware of it, so we don’t even realize that there is something else, something missing. Our inner guidance is subdued and is replaced by knowledge, subjects, as dictated by the education system. The trauma of being discouraged from your wholeness is the trauma that we all bear. There is no room in white dominant culture to be anything else, and when you can begin to recognize all the ways in which that supression chips away at your wholeness, you can begin to uncover the light that was always there. 

So it is with this knowledge that there is a choice to be made that we can start to finally reclaim our soul, our purpose and finally our wholeness. We do not have to let this narrative be the one that guides us, that hammers us with limiting beliefs and makes us cannonize tangible truths. We can make a choice to liberate ourselves from the constructs, liberate from the narrative and free us to become the people we were meant to be, the full magical beings we are. Finding your purpose won’t work until you break down the cultural narratives that you have internalized, and work to reconnect with the spirit that is within you.