“Everything is free, that’s what they say.” —Gillian Welch
The other day, I was on the beach with my sister. She is my only sister, my younger sister, and one of my closest friends. We were on Coronado Island near San Diego, where she lives. Since I live in Oregon, we get to see each other only a few times a year.
It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was bright, yet gentle through the haze of the ocean, and all around us were other people enjoying the waves.
In those moments, as we talked and walked and stood in the waves, I felt time stand still. I was in the perfect place; this was the perfect moment. I found myself breathing and stilling myself, even as the surf crashed and boogie-boarders approached. I wanted to be present, to take it in, to not miss it by thinking too much about its perfection or wanting it to last.
For me, this is my life purpose: to be able indulge in the joy of being alive, and to share that with others. This is why I became a therapist.
If I cannot relax into joy, how can I find true meaning in life? There can be moments. I can feel purposeful about something. But am I living?
The purpose of life is to give and receive love, and to grow and change and expand and develop through this process. Everything else either helps or hinders in this quest. As I write my first blog post for GoodTherapy.org, I look to explore this experience of love and loving by examining what helps it to grow and what causes it to diminish. Because although we can feel like it is entirely lost, it never is. But finding it can be a difficult task.
Understanding fear is the most important piece in developing understanding about what gets between us and our purpose. Fear causes us to lose our connection to the life of which we are an integral part. Fear causes us to lose our sense of wonder, ease, and romance with our life and our inner world.
So how do you deal with fear? First, you define it: What is fear? How does it feel in your body and mind? What thoughts does it feed you? How can you learn to recognize it? Spend a moment, right now, and ask yourself: “What am I afraid of right now?”
If your mind immediately says, “Nothing,” try again. Close your eyes and wait for it.
Are you surprised by the answer? Still unable to detect even a small fear lurking in your mind? Try this question: “Why can I not completely relax right now, right here?”
Now, look for the fear behind that answer. Why do you need to be worried or concerned in this moment? What could you lose? What could happen?
Once you see it, look at it, consider it, and then let it go and move forward with what you are doing—or discover what it is that you actually want to do.
The empowered, purposeful life is one where we face ourselves and are able to ask questions and be open to new answers. If we are constantly afraid, or constantly trying to rationalize why we shouldn’t be, then we are not open.
When we are open, the world opens to us. We see differently, feel differently, think differently. Possibilities become visible that weren’t there before, and worries that seemed so important fade into the background. Within this perception is a new experience of our fundamental purpose in this life, which is, simply, to be in love with being alive.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Erin Moline, LPC, therapist in Portland, Oregon
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