"Whatever your age, if you learn to listen, your inner voice will speak to you about your path," writes oncologist Dr. Bernie Siegel in Peace, Love and Healing, "your ‘job on earth.’ This wisdom that is directing you from within is your birthright... an inner message, an inner awareness, that says, ‘This is your path, this is how you can be the best human being possible.’ If you follow it, you will achieve your full growth and full potential as a human being before you let go of the Tree of Life..."
I know Dr. Bernie is right, because I see the power of the inner voice daily in my clients, in my friends, and in my own life. My clients ask, "How can I access that voice, that wisdom, and get my feet started on the path?"
It's easy for any of us to get discouraged with suffering throughout the world: racial prejudice; addiction and self-destruction; political oppression in its many forms (starvation, war, torture, misinformation, imprisonment, denial of rights of speech, health and human dignity, and just plain bigotry and nastiness).
My own reaction, years ago, was despair. "I can't stand it! So much suffering! So many issues! There's nothing significant I can do." Gradually, with the help of wiser people, I came to realize that I wasn't supposed to do it ALL. I just needed to do a part. But what part? Thus I began to learn about my inner wisdom, my unique birthright, my own peculiarities and talents.
We are all unique, with different genetic mixes, different fingerprints, different gifts and personalities, so let's suppose that there must be a reason for our differences; a Plan. Included in the Plan is a special place for each of us, and we have been designed, by a Super Intelligence, for a special task within the Plan. Supposing that Plan exists, what is your part in it? What were you designed to do? What's your "job on earth"?
If you feel confused or overwhelmed by life, or if your life seems to have no meaning, no important reason for your existence, spend some time pondering the Plan. Whether you call your Source a Higher Power, Spirit, or God, try reading Its mind a little: Imagine -- If you were God, and you had created the human being that is you, what would you have created such a person for? It's an interesting puzzle, and the clues are in your unique characteristics. Are you a good listener? Then maybe counseling is your intended "job". Can you explain things well? Perhaps you’re being directed toward teaching something. Are you a mathematical whiz? A musician? An artist? Can you make people laugh? All of these talents can be used in unique ways to make the world a little better. For example, if you like to make people laugh, and you enjoy elderly people, perhaps entertaining, volunteering, or working in a senior citizen's center is your special place. Or if you are a survivor of abuse or illness, perhaps your "job" lies in helping others survive.
Like me, many others have found it useful to ponder solve this riddle. The clues and hints are subtle, but they exist. The secret to your life's purpose is hidden in your heart's desire. Discover that, and you discover meaning, joy and purpose. There is a Plan, and you fit within it. No one has been omitted, every small link fits. As you discover your secret mission, and join the rhythm of the Wise Plan, life begins to run itself, doubt fades, and joy becomes a more frequent companion. Try listening to your heart, and to the obvious things about you, and you'll find it works.
" ‘I give you something, you know not what, enrich it, you know not how, bring it back, you know not when. And remember, I shall be watching you.’ Said the Sun to the newborn child." - so children’s writer P.L. Travers expresses the mystery of finding your ‘job on Earth’.
"To find in ourselves what makes life worth living is risky business," writes Marsha Sinetar in Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: "for it means that once we know it we must seek it. It also means that without it life will be valueless."
Did you know that problems with compulsive eating, substance abuse, destructive addictive relationships, and obsessive behavior are most often misguided attempts to satisfy the heart's desire?
We are such amazing miracles of creation. Within each of us is a driving force, that will NOT give up and go away. We can attempt to drown it out with loud, raucous living, to anesthetize it with food, drink or drugs, to avoid it through some zealotry or other, to run from it by being frantically busy, to ignore it by working obsessively, to be too overwhelmed drama and agony to notice it; but as soon as the unavoidable quiet moment happens, there it is, urging us on. Often, people misread this uncomfortable inner restlessness and call it "fear" or "loneliness", but it is only the call of the heart. Until we acknowledge it, it will not allow us to be at peace. Believe it or not, our hearts are filled with purpose and meaning, and will constantly press us to discover our true desire and act upon it.
A spectrum is a wide range of something, like the colors light creates when beamed through a prism. A rainbow. My rainbow, the one I want to share with all of you, is the warrior rainbow. It's the wide range of people who are willing to face their own fear and anger, to brave the terrors of the inner deep, to challenge the naysayers and the criticizers, because they know how important it is to be who they really are. It's a broad spectrum of people, all colors, orientations, beliefs and experiences. Nothing elaborate is required to take your place in the warrior rainbow -- just the courage to be you -- to face your fears, to believe in yourself, to be willing to fight where you can, while remembering a rainbow warrior always takes prudent risks -- self-destruction is not encouraged.
I find that many people who come to me for counseling are "autophobic" -- afraid of themselves. They are afraid of feeling emotion, afraid of being forced to be alone with themselves, afraid to find out what is actually inside them. It actually comes down to fearing the power within. We run very fast, in an attempt to escape who we are.
"If the person insists on a certain program, and doesn't listen to the demands of his own heart, he's going to risk a schizophrenic crackup, " warned philosopher Joseph Campbell. "Such a person has ... aligned himself with a program for life, and it's not the one the body's interested in at all. The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves or have listened only to their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what the values are that they should be living for...my analysis ...is that we would rather feel alive than be alive. Sometimes it kills you, to feel so alive out there on a battlefield somewhere, or in a corporate environment where it's quite clear that you're heading for a heart attack, and you don't change your course because you are living in that stream of energy and aliveness. You wind up bargaining your life away for it."
Reading through the wisdom of the ages, I have come across this advice time and time again. Humankind’s greatest teachers insist that the costs of denying your heart's desire are far greater than anything that could happen by following it. Every time my clients overcome their reluctance to know who they are, they release an inner power that transforms their lives.
What better time to become a rainbow warrior than now? Here's Dr. Campbell's advice about how to begin: "You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don't know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody, you don't know what anybody owes to you...a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be... the place of creative incubation. ...if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen... Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it. Get a phonograph and put on the music that you really love, even if it's corny music that nobody else respects. Or get the book you like to read. In your sacred place you get the "thou" feeling of life ...for the whole world. ...if you follow your bliss you put yourself on a track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."
I invite you to get acquainted with your heart's desire, join me in a resolution to surrender, to slow down and find out what is inside, straining to get out, longing to make contact with you. Make a "sacred space" for yourself, and spend a little time in it, at first reading or listening to music, and little by little listening to your heart. Perhaps it will change your life, as it has so many others. God has already blessed us, every one.
(© 2006 Tina B. Tessina - adapted from It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction)
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (www.tinatessina.com) is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 25 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 11 books, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page.) She publishes the "Happiness Tips from Tina" e-mail newsletter and has hosted "The Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious" a weekly hour long radio show. She is an online expert, answering relationship questions at www.CouplesCompany.com and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert and "Psychology Smarts" columnist for First for Women. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and on such TV shows as "Oprah", "Larry King Live" and ABC news.