Five Questions For Discovering Your Purpose

There are certain questions I’ve discovered that make people feeling really uncomfortable: What are your strengths? What do you need? Tell me about yourself.

That last one technically isn’t a question but the question is implied. Who are you? I bet you groaned a little bit just reading it.

I don’t know… I’m a wife, a mother… I’m an accountant... I’m the oldest of four… I’m single… I grew up in Cleveland.

Whenever we have to answer this question it is usually initiated with a sigh and then a listing of the roles and tasks in our lives. And while our roles and the things we do within any given day do make up a large part of who we are, do they really satisfy the deeper meaning of this question?

Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I want my life to be about?

Sometimes this question can be so daunting that we don’t even bother to wrestle with it, and instead we make our roles and our tasks our identities. That works for a while, but eventually all relationships shift and all jobs end. Then you are left back where you started contemplating the ten million dollar question: Who am I?

Whether we are in our 20’s or our 70’s, we all have to tackle this issue of identity and purpose. Here are some questions to guide you in your wrestling.

 

What is your story?

Do you know your story? Do you know the positive and negative turns? Do you understand how those negative turns have been redeemed? Do you know the greater theme of your story? Do you understand the reoccurring patterns that have led to good and those that have led to heartache?

You have been given a story and your story matters. The events of your life have greater significance because it is out of those events that you will find direction and purpose. If you never take the time to learn your story you will miss out on those direction signs.

 

What did you enjoy doing when you were younger?

Think back to your younger self… think back to your playing-on-the-floor-at-the-foot-of-your-bed-self? What did that little girl like to do? What brought her joy? What activity completely captured her time and imagination?

So much of who we really are is represented in that little girl who is somewhere still inside of us. In some ways, our little girl selves are the purest versions of ourselves because they are who we were before our hearts were broken, our self-confidence was dashed, and our thoughts were overridden with doubt.

A couple of years, I was asking myself this very question and I remembered two things about myself that had gotten stuffed way into the back of my mental closet.

One, when I was a little girl I loved playing with my baby dolls. Those dolls were my full time job. I loved feeding them, changing their clothes, pushing them around in their strollers. I loved those dolls.   I had forgotten how much I loved those dolls until I had my son. I think out of self-protection I had stuffed those particular memories deep down because for several years I did not know if motherhood would be part of my story. But then I had my son, and one day while changing his clothes, it struck me that in an odd way this felt so familiar. That little seed of happiness felt almost nostalgic, and I remembered how much joy I had as a little girl taking care of my beloved dolls.

Second, when I was in the second or third grade I wanted to hold a bible study for my friends. I planned the lesson (it was going to be on Zaccheus), I got out my felt board with the accompanying felt figures, and I made refreshments. Now the sad part of this story, that we won’t dwell on here, is that no one came. Yeah that was unfortunate. But when this little memory came back to me some time ago I was fascinated by it because I could remember planning it and getting everything so clearly. And in so many ways that little girl was a mini-me of today.

It is not lost on me that the two things that bring me the greatest sense of joy and spiritual, emotional, and mental connectedness in my adult life are my son and speaking/teaching and both were present to some degree in my childhood.

What did you love to do as a little girl? Before the world got to you, before disappointment clouded your vision, what did you love?

 

What are you good at? What are your strengths?

Yep, this is the question we really hate, but if you want to discover your purpose and true voice you do have to go through the vulnerable exercise of naming and claiming your strengths.

I discussed in an earlier post why we as women struggle to name our strengths. I think so many things keep us from embracing this truth about ourselves. We’re afraid we’re not good at anything. We mistakenly convince ourselves that to be good at something means we need to be the best at it. We don’t want people to think we are arrogant because we believe we are good at something. Or maybe we truly do not believe we are good at anything.

When we ignore or minimize our strengths, we let our roles and jobs define us rather than letting who we were created to be shine for all to see.

 

What is important to you?

What is important to you? What are the values that create the foundation of your life? What are the values that you want your life to be about?

Values serve as flashlights in the dark when we start to feel lost and uncertain in our journey.  They let us know when we’re straying from the path or encourage us when things get difficult. When you are doing something unknown or scary, when you are having a tough conversation, when you are making the hard choice, knowing your values gives you that extra ounce of support and direction to keep moving forward.

The decision may feel uncomfortable and may be unpopular, but if you know you are choosing it because you want the foundation of your life to be rooted in courage or faith, for example, then it will make it more possible to stand by your decision. It won’t be easy, it won’t be fun, but you will be able to do it.

 

What are you passionate about?

What do you always want to read about? What topic(s) stirs you? What do you have a curiosity or thirst of knowledge for? What topic brings tears to your eyes because you are so moved by it?

Years ago when people actually went to bookstores (oh I miss those days… sigh), my husband and I loved to go to Borders. He always looked at magazines and searched through the music department, and I headed directly to the relationships/psychology/religion department. Inevitably, I always left with a stack of books on topics such as abusive relationships, healing your emotional wounds, finding your purpose. My husband frequently had to responses to our bookstore field trips: I bet that check out person things you are a really troubled person and Do you really enjoy reading all that stuff?

Yes, I do. I really do. I love learning about what I do for a living. I could read about relationships and healing our shame and living brave and overcoming disappointment ‘til the cows come home. It excites me, interests me, holds my attention for hours. I feel completely alive when I am learning and then communicating to other women how to heal and discover our true voice and be our best selves.

Most likely the things that way heaviest on our hearts or intrigue our minds the most are somehow connected with who we were created to be and what we were created to do. Usually we care about something because it speaks to us or we identify with it in some way. We can’t discount these facts about ourselves. It isn’t a coincidence. Things excite and move you for a reason. Listen to that voice. Listen to that yearning.

 

Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I want to do with my life? Oh these are such big and important questions. The answer to these questions is found at the intersection of our story, our joy, our ability, our values, and our passions. What does your intersection look like? What direction does it leave you facing? What would you like to explore based on your answers?

Are You Ready to Break Free and Live Brave? (The Daring Way™ is coming to Atlanta!)

DW_FlyerHeader  

This month I've been talking about looking ahead into this wild, unknown that is the start of 2014.  We are about to wrap our first month of the year and hopefully you have spent some time in over these weeks thinking about what you want this year to look like for you. What are your hopes for this year?  Would you like to stop living under the yoke of perfection?  Would you like to stop second guessing yourself and instead start living brave?  Would you finally like to separate your sense of worth from what you do and what you think others think of you?  If so, I believe 2014 is your year to do it!

As you know, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown, bestselling author and TED sensation.  Her research and writing on shame and vulnerability have been life changing for me personally and professionally.  Last June, I started the process of becoming certified to facilitate her newest workshop, The Daring Way™ and am thrilled to announce I am offering my first  Daring Way™ retreat: Daring Women:  Show Up, Be Seen, Live Brave™!
 
What is The Daring Way™?  It is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The material was developed to help men, women, and adolescents learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing a courage practice that transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.  If you are tired of wrestling with feelings of not being good enough, if you would like to let down your guard and let people really know you, if you would like to discover, or maybe rediscover, your true voice that has gotten silenced and covered up, you do not want to miss this opportunity.   
 
DW_LightQuoteImages2
The two-day retreat will be held in Atlanta on Saturday, March 1st- Sunday, March 2nd (9:30AM-4:30PM both days) with plans to add dates in April and/or May.  These upcoming retreats are specifically for women, but I will be holding Daring Way™ retreats in the future for men and women, moms, couples, and individuals in the helping professions (clergy and mental health counselors).  The retreat consists of teaching, discussion, individual reflection time, and small group processing.  Over the course of these two days, we will discuss:
 
- What is the arena in your life you want to show up and be seen
- Vulnerability, vulnerability myths, and the connection between courage and vulnerability 
- How to practice empathy and self compassion
- The armor we use to "protect" ourselves from being vulnerable
- How to identify and change our thoughts of unworthiness and feeling not good enough
- How to create a life of courage as we embrace our story and step into the arena
 
The Daring Way™ is a cost-efficient, personal growth experience.  If you have thought about beginning a personal growth journey or you are feeling stuck in your life, The Daring Way™ consolidates weeks of therapy and can jumpstart and accelerate your personal development.  Having gone through the material myself, I can tell you that the content and exercises help you discover the keys to living the life you were created to live.  This retreat is a great opportunity for individuals or girlfriends or even your small group to set aside time to uncover the things that are holding you back as you look ahead to the future you want and deserve.  
 
Seating is very limited (8-12 participants)and the Super Early Bird Registration rate is $325 and the deadline is this Friday, January 31st.  The Early Bird Registration ($375) deadline is February 14th and Regular Registration rates ($425) apply after that.     Included in the cost of registration is a personalized notebook, a Daring Way™ workbook,  a journal, a copy of one of Brené's books of your choosing, and two catered lunches , snacks, and beverages.
 

For more information about The Daring Way™, go to http://mazirobinson.com/the-daring-way/

For information on the specifics of this upcoming retreat and future retreats (such as dates, times, location, cost), go to http://mazirobinson.com/upcoming-workshops/

For more information on what is included in the cost of the retreat, the retreat format, and other frequently asked questions, go to http://mazirobinson.com/workshop-faqs/

 
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like more information.  I look forward to daring greatly with you!

Gumball Lessons: Learning to Embrace the Good and Bad in Your Story

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking on the power of embracing our story.  What does it mean to embrace our story?  What are the obstacles we face in trying to embrace our story? Embracing your story means that you understand how the twists and turns, the expected and unexpected, the good and the bad work together to create your unique purpose and life direction.  To embrace your story, you have to face your story.  Facing your story means dealing with the tough parts rather than trying to deny or ignore them.

But what if you don’t want to deal with the past?  What if you don’t know how to deal with the past?  How do you make sense of the past when there have been so many ups and downs? 

How do we wrap our minds around this thing called life that can be so breathtakingly beautiful and heart wrenchingly painful?

I think this dilemma is one of the biggest obstacles we face in embracing our story.  We run from the past because we don’t know how to reconcile the good and bad.  We don’t know how to hold onto the good and still call out and address the bad.

Maybe most of your story is really good- good friends, good life experiences, good memories- but there are a couple of chapters, or maybe even some characters, that have been really difficult.  These chapters or characters have created some true hurt in your life.  You don’t know how to include them in your story because you feel if you spend time talking about those painful scenes then you are discounting, or aren’t grateful for, all the good in your life.  And so you ignore or deny the impact of the chaotic home life, the addicted loved one, or the neglectful parent because you simply do not know how to reconcile the good and the bad.

Or maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum.  Life has been very hard.  From start to present, life has been one challenge after another.  And because life has beaten you up so, it is hard to hold on to the good.  It is hard to let yourself feel excitement and joy.  It is hard to believe that joy and good things really do, and will, happen to you.  So you live ever protective of your battered heart, constantly preparing for the worst and never letting yourself rest in joy.  It’s the same problem. You don’t know how to reconcile the good and the bad.  You don’t know how to hold them both.

The challenge in life is learning to accept the good and bad and give them each the credit they are due and the healing they deserve.  We must learn to hold the prickly and the smooth parts of life.  We must learn that sometimes life is like holding two gumballs.

This gumball is smooth, full of color, and if you bit into it, it would be sweet.

IMG_2784

This gumball is prickly and lackluster in color.

IMG_2783

Both are round. Both are gumballs.  But they are very different experiences. The sweetness of the one gumball does not cancel out the prickliness of the other.

Life is colorful and smooth and sometimes very sweet.  Life is also prickly and dark and a pain to deal with.

Sometimes, out of self-protection, we want our lives to be either all good or all bad because the back and forth, up and down can feel exhausting.  We want to know what we can count on because we want to feel in control of our fate.  So we decide that life is going to be all good, and we force a smile to hide any bad.  Or we decided that life is going to be all bad, and we lash out or reject anything that tries to convince us otherwise.

We struggle to embrace our stories when we want them to always make sense, follow a pattern, and not have any unexpected plot developments.  We struggle to embrace our story when we only want to hold onto one gumball.

The challenge is to learn to hold them both.

IMG_2786

The painful and difficult and negative events of your life do not cancel out all the good in your life.  Equally, the good in your life does not wash over and erase the hurts, abuse, or loss you have experienced.  Just because you’ve tasted the sweetness of life, does not mean you can’t still call out the bad.  Just because you know the prickliness of life, does not mean that is all there is to life.

It takes courage to have joy and hope, and it takes courage to grieve.  It takes courage to hold both gumballs.  Embracing your story means you accept the hard, prickly incidences just as you accept the sweet, colorful ones.  You accept that both experiences contribute to your unique story and life calling.  You learn to hold them both.

Do you struggle to reconcile the good and bad in your story? Does it ever feel like the bad overshadows the good in your life?  Do you stay quiet about the dark moments because you are afraid they will tarnish the bright ones?  Take the courageous step and start giving voice to all the parts of your unique and powerful story.

 

 

Coffee Talk presents... Embracing Your Story

As I have shared in earlier posts, over the past several months I have been studying and thinking  a great deal about the power of  personal stories.  What can you learn from your story?  How do the ups and downs and twists and turns create a greater theme for your life?  Why is it important we embrace our stories? We each were given a story to live, and there are parts we love and parts we try to ignore.  Embracing our story means accepting the beautiful and painful parts.  It means we choose to show up and be seen in our lives rather than hide and stay quiet.  How do you discover your unique purpose for this life?  It's in your story!  Your purpose, your calling is woven into the fabric of your unique story.  You need only learn the story, and as you learn your story, you will see that nothing is wasted.  The pain that plagues you, the disappointment that troubles you, the regret that haunts... none of it is a waste.  The pain heals, the disappointment subsides , the regret is redeemed, and it all comes together to create direction and purpose for your life.

Over the coming weeks, I will share more about the power of owning and sharing our stories.  If you are in the Atlanta area, I invite you to join us at Coffee Talk hosted by Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, November 12th at 7:30 PM in The Lodge.   I will be speaking on embracing your story and living a life filled with courage and purpose.  Would love to see you there!  Have a great weekend!

 

FacebookAds403x403.CoffeeTalk