The Meaning of Life (Wants to be) Revealed!

Throughout time, people have wondered what life is about — is it all meaningless? Am I here to learn certain things? To resist certain things?

Regardless of what we believe about our place in the universe, it appears to be our nature to search for meaning.

And I believe there are patterns in our lives that imply we have lessons to learn during our lifetime.

We may ask ourselves: Why?…

Why do I keep getting into abusive relationships?

Why do I often feel like a victim?

Why can’t I relax in the moment with friends?

Why do people see me as unapproachable?

A HERO’S JOURNEY

Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and other scholars have placed a lot of emphasis on the unconscious mind— the parts of ourselves that we know little about — yet an essential part of mind, as it controls much of our interpretation or experience of life. These wise men emphasize the need to do whatever it takes to make as much of the unconscious conscious in order to live a full, meaningful, authentic life.

So how can we make the unconscious more conscious?

As we journey through our lives, we can learn to interpret our experiences by understanding archetypal characters, looking for symbolism in our dreams, and becoming curious about the characters we relate to in stories.

1. DREAM INTERPRETATION

One avenue of discovery is focusing on our dreams, both day and night, and looking for clues in the symbolism. Keeping a Dream Journal, that is, waking and quickly writing down what we recall from a dream, can be a rich clue for unraveling our personal lessons for living a meaningful life. Accuracy isn’t important — it turns out that the words we choose become the clues to the unconscious mind.

EXAMPLE — I HAD A DREAM … where I had a set of keys that seemed very important, yet I fumbled and dropped them down a storm drain. My oldest brother had to help me retrieve them.

Symbolism:

  • OLDEST BROTHER, for me, represented maturity, authority, intelligence and wisdom.
  • KEYS represented my responsibility to take care of something important.
  • NEEDING HELP reminded me that, although awkward, it was ok to seek the wisdom of someone wiser than me.

2. STORIES

I think another avenue to self-discovery is in reading literature and/or watching shows. The unconscious seems to only be available through indirect means: a kind of charade; or archetypal imagery; metaphor and/or symbolism.

A good novel reaches around our ego defenses and potentially reveals to us the next step in our developmental journey. We identify with particular characters, abhor others, and may be attracted to others still. When we have an emotional responses to a character’s experiences, we grow ourselves without even trying. Unconsciously we have discovered an archetype just waiting to be given a voice. Music, poetry, even astrology, coincidence and tea leaves can lead to similar self-discovery!

Each is a potential window into our deepest parts of being.

  • EXAMPLE– I love the story of “Alice In Wonderland“. I even love the

White Rabbit” song by “Jefferson Airplane”. Without being able to properly understand why I was so touched by the story, I was later able to recognize that it reflected some of my core values:

  • be curious.
  • Question the “rules”.
  • And enjoy the journey — no matter how strange.

3. Getting FEEDBACK

Another avenue to getting to the root of our purpose in life is to be open to feedback from others. As risky as this may feel, asking others about what they think of us can be revealing. The key is having a desire to really know who you are.

“Life is about floating on the seas of turbulence, drifting on the eddies and currents, flowing, and along the way, learning: whatever that may look like for each of us currently experiencing a mortal life.” 

~Joanna Hunter 

Reshaping Our Stories

Our view of the world has a fundamental tendency to tilt towards the negative.

That’s exactly why our mind needs to practice intentionality — that is, intentionally reshaping the stories in our mind.

Studies in neuroplastcity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life) suggest we can actually CHANGE the results of earlier experiences, even when trauma occurred. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

There is research out of U.C Davis showing that just writing for a few minutes each day about things that you’re grateful for can dramatically boost your happiness and sense of wellbeing.

On a deeper level, try writing about an event that truly hurt you in some way. After venting (on paper), take a break. Then, re-write your story with the title “A Heroes Journey”. Notice that a change in perspective is a change in reality. Crazy, right?

Our perceptions are malleable. They are NOT factual.

PAINT YOUR STORY AS A SURVIVOR HERO!

Letting Go Of the Past to Appreciate the Present

Suffering doesn’t make us grow –

but what we do with our feelings could make us grow. ⚡️💡

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It’s an interesting saying though. Where did it come from?  Perhaps it’s because anguish and acute awareness sometimes occur near one another, in time and space.

For me, however, what makes us grow is understanding our feelings, questioning the thoughts behind them, seeing the cause-and-effect of it all, and mindfully letting go.

If we utilize this information the next time these feelings arise (anger, sadness, depression, confusion, fear), we can remember the awareness, the ‘aha’ moment, or insight we discovered before. We can  notice that what we are experiencing in the here and now is separate from the past, and know that our reactions don’t really apply in the current situation. Awareness sets us free to respond differently.

contemplation

Uncomfortable feelings are nearly always preceded by a stressful thought, and when the feelings come, we can isolate the stressful thought, idea, or assumption and question it thoroughly.

I find journaling a powerful aid here. Just write your rambling thoughts about a situation that made you uncomfortable (in your mind or in reality – doesn’t matter). Then let it set. You probably will already feel better because the act of writing is cathartic. But for true growth to occur, go back later and read what you wrote. Pretend you are a scientist!  Your job is to (compassionately) dissect your writing to find the threads of connection…

Try asking these questions:

1. Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities?

Personal example:   I had to  go to my son’s junior high school to deliver his medicine.   I noticed I had a racing heart, a sense of urgency to complete the task, and an overall sense of shame and dread.

It made no sense in my logical mind.

 Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities? 

Junior high was very scary for me. I was picked on by other girls and I was even beaten up a number of times. The threats often occurred when students were moving from one class to their next, so I was especially scared when that bell rang!

2.  What were the beliefs / thoughts around the event? 

Awareness: my heart is racing; I have a sense of urgency and intense fear.

THOUGHTS:  I Visualize being attacked. “If I can become unnoticeable, I might make it… Hopefully the bell won’t ring!”

Once we gently meet our past with understanding, we can separate those experiences and respond to the present authentically.

By listening, compassionately, to your own mistaken, innocent mind, you can become free… from this,  then that,  then…

Life Is Like a Book.