Then, frequently, they ask: “Now that I'm in charge of myself, and have a lot of extra energy, because life is a lot easier and my relationships are working, it feels like I'm missing something—what am I doing here?”
This begins a spiritual search for meaning, which I've written about in The Real 13th Step, and The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow explained in his “Hierarchy of Needs” that once the basics of life are established, people need a sense of meaning and a higher purpose than just survival. When self-confidence and self-esteem are in place, we need a challenge to feel satisfied, a way to express our uniqueness and individuality to ourselves, to friends, and to the world.
But if your life's purpose is not evident to you already, how do you find out what it is? Where does a sense of purpose come from? It comes from within, and cannot be not imposed or chosen from outside. Your purpose may be your livelihood, or it may have nothing to do with how you make a living. Your purpose may be a simple one, like making a good, healthy life for yourself and your children, or it may be more dramatic, and based on what you learned by healing your own childhood experience. Inner purpose has the power to transform anxiety, anger, fear and rage into powerful, life-affirming action. A life purpose gives you the means to control your destiny, no matter what the force of the hardships you have incurred.
Most of the world’s spiritual thinkers have said that the wisdom guiding each of us is available if we just listen and trust what we hear. Purpose may make itself clear in one instant flash, or gradually, by following clues, one at a time. Whether you get it all at once or a piece at a time, it will still take work and experience to bring it about. Inner wisdom is not rational or practical in nature, but more intuitive and spiritual. It can provide a way to see the big picture, or a more detached and objective viewpoint of the issues and problems of life. Each new idea must be tested through practical use, to see how it works. Step by step, using both intuitive wisdom and clear thinking, you can bring your inner motivation to the surface and use it to create what you want. A combination of inspiration expressed through action will develop the meaning of your own life.
Here’s how I expressed my own experience of it, in a poem called “Grace”