Does Your Life Feel Alive And Meaningful?By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 20, 2016
Do you find that nothing really excites you or holds much meaning for you? Does your life lack aliveness, passion and purpose?
Vera sought out counseling with me because her doctor advised her to discover the emotional causes of her chronic fatigue. Vera, a successful stockbroker, was in a loving 18-year marriage. On the surface, everything in her life was fine. She had enough money, friends and a good relationship with her husband. Yet Vera awoke each morning battling fatigue and depression. She didn't want to get out of bed because nothing felt meaningful to her.
David sought my help because of chronic feelings of inner emptiness. David is very successful in his manufacturing business, has a good marriage and two adult children. Like Vera, everything seemed fine. Yet the feelings of inner emptiness drove David to overeat, overspend and indulge in porn on the Internet. Like Vera, nothing felt meaningful to him.
While both Vera and David were successful in their careers, neither loved their work. They worked to make money, but their work held little meaning for them. Yet when they looked inside, neither could discover what was meaningful for them. Both reported that they had never experienced a sense of meaningfulness in their adult lives, and that the emptiness and depression had been with them since adolescence.
As I worked with each of them, it became evident that they had made a decision early in their lives to shut down their feelings to avoid the deep pain of unbearable loneliness and heartbreak. Vera shut down because she was unable to tolerate the loneliness of her mother's behavior toward her. Her mother would say she loved Vera, but Vera never felt her love. Instead, she felt her mother energetically pulling at her, trying to suck the life out of her. As a very sensitive child, Vera could not tolerate this confusing experience, so she put her feelings in a box and decided to live from her head instead of her heart.
David, also a very sensitive child, shut down because he was unable to tolerate the loneliness of being with two emotionally unavailable empty parents, and the heartbreak of rejection from peers.
As adults, both Vera and David were still shut down to their feelings. They were still afraid of feeling the pain of loneliness and heartbreak - feelings that are actually everyday facts of life. Loneliness is present when your heart is closed or another's heart is closed, or when there is no one with whom to share love. Loneliness is the primary feeling when we want to connect with another and the other is unavailable. Heartbreak can occur when others who are important to you are unloving to you. If you were completely open to your feelings, you would likely feel moments of loneliness and heartbreak or heartache throughout the day. However, many people shut themselves off from these feelings, completely unaware of them. Instead, the moment there is a twinge of emotional pain, they turn to various addictions and addictive behaviors, such as substances, activities, rumination, shame and blame. The problem with this is that when we shut out pain, we also shut out joy and a passionate sense of meaning and purpose.
Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. Neither Vera nor David could discover what had meaning for them and what would bring them joy while keeping a lid on their feelings. The very act of keeping their hearts closed to their feelings was creating their depression and inner emptiness.
Imagine that your feelings are like a child within you. If you ignore this child - by ignoring your feelings – he or she feels abandoned. Our refusal to be in Step One of Inner Bonding - to feel and take responsibility for our own pain - is an inner abandonment and results in anxiety, depression and inner emptiness.
It is your child within - your feeling self - that has the blueprint for what has meaning for you, for your passion and purpose. Each of us comes to this life with a deep purpose to express, and when we don't express it, we end up feeling empty and depressed. Yet we cannot discover our purpose when we keep a lid on our feelings.
Learning to manage the pain of loneliness and heartbreak is essential to discovering your passion and purpose. Inner Bonding is a powerful process for learning to manage these feelings.
There is no way of managing loneliness and heartbreak without a deep and personal connection to a spiritual source of love and wisdom. We cannot manage these feelings from our mind alone.
You will find deep meaning in your life when you decide to practice Inner Bonding - opening to and learning from your feelings of loneliness and heartbreak, rather than continuing to shut them down. And you will open to these feelings only when you do not feel alone inside – when you begin experiencing the love and wisdom of your spiritual Guidance. Opening to Divine Love and opening to your feelings will bring you the fullness, joy, passion and purpose that are the yearnings of your soul.
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Focus on anyone you are angry at. Let yourself voice your anger out loud but not at the person. Now turn it around and let your inner child say the same thing to you, listening with openness and compassion. Whoever you are angry at can become your teacher for becoming aware of how you may be abandoning yourself.
By Dr. Margaret Paul