There has been a constant feeling in my life for the past 2 or 3 years of almost always not doing enough. Its like I owe work and time to somebody whom I don't even know, but the feeling is there, the anxiety, the lack of focus on what's good. I feel this even when I am supposed to focus in the moment, in the present.
I discussed it with my therapist and together we came to the conclusion that it is a combination of 2 forces: external and internal. The external ones refer to leftover feelings of past times where I felt I had to do work I didn't enjoy much but that had to be done nonetheless. Since I didn't enjoy it, I never did it for myself, for my own good and pleasure, therefore, whenever I decided to put myself first instead of the tasks I was assigned to, I felt guilty for not doing what was expected when it was expected. This external forces, although they seem to be external, are actually internal since it is I who decide to react and feel in one way or another. The solution then is to react and feel in a different way. How to do this is the hard part though.
The second ones are the internal ones. I feel like I am not doing enough for myself, my goals, etc. Since I was a teenager, maybe 16 and 17 I've had this "ideal" version of myself, in which I am someone with tremendous success in the traditional sense of the word. Very young I started pushing myself very hard to reach that ideal version, but when I was 19 I realized that it was impossible. I would discover why it was impossible later in life, but at least I saw myself as who I was and not as a preliminary version of the ideal. Since that time and until a couple of months ago I just kept walking, but without a version of myself to work for. The old one is still here and sometimes pops open together with ego, but I can keep it under control. On the other hand, I didn't have a good, healthy version of myself to pursue. I tried different things but nothing seemed to fulfill me.
Two months ago I discovered this course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/finding-purpose-and-meaning-in-life. I recommended it to anyone. Thanks to the course I realized why it was impossible for me to become that ideal version of myself. Why was and it is impossible? Because that version of myself is not aligned with my true purpose in life. I didn't know what my purpose was at the time, but it definitively was not that ideal version. I was working towards the wrong version of myself and punishing me in the process. This leads to the question, what is my purpose then? Well, the course defines purpose as a "Central, self-organizing life aim". The way you find that purpose is:
- Self Affirmation: Reflect on personally relevant values. Think about what matters most. When are you happy? How do you want to be remembered? Try to be eudemonic and not hedonistic here. From there, go to:
- Finding your purpose: Define what you want to be. These are your "be goals". These are focuses that help you work and do the right things in life. It also helps you disregard the non-important and enhance what truly matters to you. I'll share my purpose with you later in the text.
- Being purposeful: Live a purposeful life with actions based on your purpose. Engage that best self to your purpose. Then you become purposeful. Then you begin to enjoy life.
I followed this process and found that, for now, my purpose in life is:
- To live a life full of amazing experiences alone and with the people I love. I must always put experiences over material stuff first. I want to drink, eat and sleep in the best way possible, because it makes me happy.
- I want to live a balanced life between work, family, friends, party and my own personal time. We came to this world to live, not to work. I want to live!
- I want to work in an environment I feel recognized and valued. I want my coworkers to be nice, gentle and smart so that together we can have a good impact in the world, no matter how small it is.
- I want to be financially at peace. I want to be responsible with the money I earn. This does not mean being extremely rich. It means that money is not a problem for me nor the people I care about and love. It means I can afford to live in a place where I feel safe, happy and where I can be my best self.
- I want to work every day in become a better emotional version of myself. This means taking care of my mental health with whatever is required and also take control of my relationships and how I feel about them. I want good people in my life, people that push me to be better, happier and constructive.
- I want to fulfill God's purpose for me in life. I am here for a reason and he has been standing right next to me since a I was a baby. He has been there in every battle and in every party. I want to walk by his hand so he can help me see more clearly what is best for me.
As you see my purpose is not a goal or a thing in it self, is a combination of aims that direct my energy and my actions in life. Purpose is, as the course puts it: a central, self-organizing life aim.
Whenever I feel the anxiety these days or feel the old toxic ideal version appearing in my mind I go back to this purpose. It allows me to focus on what is important. When I started writing this I felt anxious and unhappy. Now I feel better, not only because I remembered my own purpose but also because I might be helping others find their own.
After posting this I will prepare a delicious lunch and also work on the tasks I assigned myself for today. Hope you can do the same!