I want to be clear about something—discovering your life purpose doesn’t exclude you from having dark nights of the soul. If anything, it invites them in more frequently.
Because we’re not talking about reaching some arbitrary place that will somehow transform your life. Life purpose isn’t a particular job or relationship or even a new city (though those places can hold your purpose more or less).
It’s not about reaching somewhere; it’s about seeing something. Seeing the purpose that has existed in every moment of your life. Even your darkest wounds and trauma. Especially then.
And facing the decisions and the continuous re-awakening can be painful as hell.
I regularly have my breakdown. My dark nights of the soul. It’s why all of my work is done in groups. Why I couldn’t possibly do this work without immense layers of support. It’s why I see a therapist every week. Why I have a team of friends, colleagues, strategists, and energy workers to support me at all times.
Because I’m always going through this shit. And it’s hard.
Discovering life purpose is about seeing something that’s always been there, but we just couldn’t see before. And that means that we now have to face patterns, decisions, and relationships we haven’t wanted to deal with.
Because when we were stuck and confused, we never had to realize that this relationship actually isn’t a good container for my purpose and I need to release it, or that client isn’t a good fit, and I need to fit them. And it’s really hard. It’s hard to see so fully. And to continue acknowledging where we are repressing.
I often say that I wouldn’t wish this path on my worst enemies, but everyone deserves it. Because the pain that comes up is immense. But the reward is everything. It’s yourself. Your full self.
And that’s worth the entire Universe. It is the entire Universe.
I hear all the time that people think of purpose as a switch. They’re going to engage in my work, flip the switch, and suddenly their life is perfect.
But, if it is a switch, it’s certainly more of a light switch. And when we turn on that light, we now see just how dirty the room is. We see all of the stuff we couldn’t have seen before. And we’ve got some tough cleaning to do.
And we’re constantly brightening the room. We’re constantly seeing more and more. The deeper we go into this work, we get clearer and clearer on why behind everything. We understand ourselves, other people, society, and patterns at large. But that comes with deep pain. As we begin to understand the way we contribute to distortions. The way we Repress and Corrupt and Extract and Suppress and Disassociate.
We begin to see how we’re interconnected. How individual trauma—for anyone—is just collective trauma housed within an individual container. Individual healing is collective healing. Collective healing is individual healing.
And our purpose means a whole lot more than just ourselves.
To be moving through layers of my own trauma and collective trauma—well, that’s not always fun work. The support of the community is critical. We have to do this work in a group. We’re remembering what it’s like to heal as a community. To speak and listen and share vulnerably.
When we share in community, we move through layers of shame. Because the community acts as a surrogate for the collective group in which the shame was created.
To love another person, we have to know them first. To love our world, we have to know it first. To love ourselves, we have to know ourselves first.
Life purpose is the process of coming to know yourself—really, really know yourself—and the world around you. It explains why you’re happy sometimes and sad others. It explains why this business just won’t take off for you. It explains why you felt what you did in the worst moments of trauma. It explains why you have an affinity for the horses—or maybe even the color green.
It explains who you are because it’s seeing all of yourself. And that transparency creates a kind of courage within you. A courage to want to see more. A courage to face more. A courage to be more. Of who you already are.
I won’t say it’s easy. Believe me, the dark nights of the soul come up time and time again. But, in my experience, it’s the only way to fall in love with yourself. And the entire world.
You have to know it. See it. Look it in the eyes. Even the shadows and distortions. To really, really fall in love.
And that deep love for myself and the world around me—that’s worth everything. Even the dark nights of the soul that bring me there.