Throwing Caution, Paths and Purpose to the Wind

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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination – Jimmy Dean

Today, as I write this, the wind is blowing ferociously, the remnants of a tropical cyclone. The wind also acts as a great metaphor for this post because, today, I have let go of the need for a path or purpose, of a mind constantly searching, and instead have thrown myself at the mercy of the wind, allowing it to guide me. It’s a leap of faith.

In today’s world, not seeking direction sounds like madness. How can one be happy about not finding their purpose? Isn’t it the holy grail, the thing that will make us happy?” Well, yes and no.

Yes, we all like to know why we’re here, how we are to use the gifts we are given, and not waste time going down multiple “wrong” roads.

No, because seeking “the” path and purpose is not only exhausting, it can actually throw us off track, off our path. Confused? So was I, which is why it has taken me over a decade and a battle with poor health to get a handle on this.

Here’s what I’ve learnt. Years ago, a wise teacher told me that as a perfectionist, I wanted to know “every damned step” before I made a move. At the time I thought, well yeah, of course I do, otherwise how can I know which way to go, right? She also said, “The steps only appear, once you make the first move.” At the time, this made no sense. How can I step forward if I can’t see where I’m supposed to step?

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Well the secret is in stepping where there is no step. Sounds crazy but stay with me. I’ve learnt that we often don’t get a billboard with arrows saying “Go this way”. Instead, we have to make the first move in whatever direction “feels” right and then the next step appears.

This is where intuition comes in. It’s that gentle sensation, like butterfly wings that flutter around your heart, hinting that you’re onto something. It doesn’t give exact instructions, just a feeling, a hint to use our soul as a weather vane, see which way it’s pointing, then head in that direction, no instructions, just follow the breeze. When we take the first step, if it’s in alignment with our soul’s desire, and not just our head, then the universe will reveal the next step. It’s our reward for being brave, trusting and using “feeling” as a compass, not just logic.

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Intuitive Processes and Creativity

Here’s how this intuitive process worked for me. Regular readers know that 10 years of poor health forced me to examine how my thoughts were impacting my life and health. Perfectionism is bad for your health and your career. I could no longer work in my field of marketing communications, or do much else. On the advise of a stranger, I took up a creative pursuit. Mine was sewing. The stranger also suggested not doing it as a career or creating a business, but simply as an exploratory process. I had no idea what she meant. Perfectionists only do things that have useful outcomes, but being unwell, I had no choice but to do art for art’s sake.

Stepping into the creative unknown, I had no idea how or why it would help, just that I should trust my gut and follow this lead. Creativity restored my connection to my intuition, calmed my mind and allowed new insights to emerge. My health improved enough for me to consider my other passion, protecting our beautiful planet. But in what capacity? The next invisible step was about to emerge.

Recently I saw a story on the environmental impact of plastic bags, and decided to stop moaning, take action and find an organisation I could help lobby for a ban plastic bags. My search led me to the website of not-for-profit group, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. They help protect wildlife, their habitats and campaigned against plastic bags. Something about their website attracted me, like a hidden force. It was a heart flutter moment that prompted me to call and see if they needed a volunteer. I spoke to the lovely manager who gratefully accepted my help. I felt an instant connection.

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Image: Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland

Remember, if we take the first intuitive step, the universe will reveal the next. It did for me. The manager said they welcomed all help, but desperately needed someone with marketing communications skills. Bingo! When I surrendered the need to know the path, magic happened. I was happy to help make coffee but instead, the universe gifted me the chance to use my work experience and do something purposeful. As an added bonus, and to confirm I was in the right place, I discovered that the manager and I both share a love of sewing.

While I still have poor health days, challenges managing teenagers and juggling the needs of a family, relinquishing the search for a purpose has led to internal peace. When I gave up the need to know, a purpose found me. And it’s not to say that this is “the purpose”, it’s what is right for me right now. It’s all about letting go, and letting be(come).

Intuition is your greatest gift. If you can’t feel guidance, make time to be still for at least 5-10 minutes every day, whatever time you can spare. Don’t discount the advice of family and friends and your own mind, but always check in with your internal compass and see which way it’s pointing, because your heart and soul will always be your best guides towards your next step.

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Have you felt any flutters that might be trying to guide you?

No map required

Ever have times in your life, when day, after hilly day, you feel like life is just one constant uphill climb, but not the climbing up the ladder kind of climb, with all its pots of gold and rainbows as dangling temptations, nope. This is the “Oh my goodness, when will life just plateau a little so I can catch my breath kind of climb, and where did that boulder come from?”

Image Courtesy: kindasassy.com
Image Courtesy: kindasassy.com

You see, as a perfectionist, I like to be in control.  I like to know where I’m going, what’s the journey going to be like, what’s the weather forecast, what’s around the corner, what does the corner even look like and what’s at the end of the journey.  I want details, details, details.  I want directions. Lots of them.

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So what does directions have to do with pushing boulders up hills?  Well, with perfectionism, comes the desire to tell the universe just how you’d like it.  I’m talking specifics here, in full technicolour glory, about doing it your way, because your conscious mind knows better, and yet, continually pursuing that dead-end job, or that crumbling relationship means you are pushing it up hill.  Despite the advice of some well meaning gurus, you know that thing about manifesting what you want, well sometimes what you think you want, isn’t what your soul really needs, and so all this wishful thinking means, your “thing” just ain’t gonna happen.  We think we know what we want, what course our life should take, the right job, the right house, and the right possessions that will really make us happy, but too often, those are things we “think” we want.

Right now you’re scratching your head saying, “Yeah, that’s right it’s what I think, so it’s what I want.  What else is there?”  Well you see there’s this “thing” we carry with us into adulthood and it’s a bunch of circuitry that has it’s own unique program. That circuitry is our brain and the program comes from the environment we grow up in.  We are deeply influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of our caregivers as we are growing up.  So when we consciously think we want the White car, is it really “our” choice or that subconscious parental voice saying, “White is the safer colour. Choose no other”, when what we really want is the Orange one because it better matches our own soul’s desire.

Image Courtesy: pressrewindblog.com
Image Courtesy: pressrewindblog.com

Excessive Perfectionism, like all other limiting or self-defeating beliefs requires us to stop and examine which are programmed thoughts and which are those coming from our heart and soul.  So back to uphill climbs.  If we can move from “thinking” what we think we want, and instead connecting in with our heart’s desire, and then step back, we allow the universe to meet us half way and give us what our soul needs, thus removing many a boulder and hilly climbs.

Like all reforming perfectionists, I’ve had to let  go of the need for details and directions, and understand that the universe dishes out information on an “needs to know” basis.  The more I let go of what I think I should be doing in any aspect of my life, the more I get clarity on where I really need to go.  Mysterious synchronicity weaves it’s web, one strand at a time, so that like a graceful spider, I can inch my way along the path, as each delicate thread magically appears. And while the journey may not always move forward and more often sideways, it is the detours that can often yield the most unexpected surprises!

Image Courtesy: sodahead.com
Image Courtesy: sodahead.com