“Do I need to know my purpose/passion to heal?” is one of the questions that comes up
from time to time in coaching and group classes. It’s often very emotionally charged for
the person posing the question because they have been told that they must discover their purpose/passion in life to heal. They commonly have spent weeks pondering what their purpose is, followed by weeks ruminating about it because they don’t know, which eventually leads to them getting more and more triggered by the whole thing.
In my experience, the short answer to this question is, no. I did not know what my purpose/passion was when I was rewiring my brain and nervous system. I just wanted to not feel like hot garbage all day, every day. Granted, I could have done a little better with that. It’s helpful to move towards something instead of trying to get away from the symptoms, but that something could be “I want to feel good in my body, so I can enjoy life.”
I have also worked with countless clients over the past six years who are now well and living full, happy lives. We didn’t discuss their purpose/passion as a key ingredient to their healing. Certainly, we talked about what they were moving towards and looking forward to, but it wasn’t with the very big ask/expectation of figuring out their life’s purpose. There are so many healthy, happy, successful people on this planet that would be hard pressed to answer that question too.
Life gets turned so upside down when the limbic system is impaired and the nervous system is dysregulated, that it can be hard to have any idea about what we’re drawn to and what is possible. I often joke that posing the question about passion/purpose when the brain and nervous system are in survival mode, is similar to asking someone that is running from a tiger to share what their hopes and dreams are. Not really a fair question at that point and time.
If the question helps to shift your attention off of the tiger and on to moving forward and getting back to living life, then fantastic. But all too often I see the question further reinforce rumination, looping thought patterns and fear that recovery isn't possible because you're not "doing it right" or checking all the boxes on someone else's recovery list.
By all means, if you do know what your
purpose/passion is, wonderful!
Please move towards it and have it be a source of inspiration and motivation to use your tools and rewire. But if you don’t, that’s okay. You are not alone, many people don’t know what their purpose/passion is and still recover. I find that as clients heal and step into greater regulation, life and opportunities start to open up. Instead of trying to force it, maybe trust that good things are coming and you don’t need to have it all figured out just yet.
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