88: The Shadow Side of Purpose


Purpose can be a guiding light. It can also be a dark shadow. But we rarely talk about the latter. We explore that conversation in this episode.

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Speaker 1: How to make love. Hmm. Now is that from recipe or from scratch?

Speaker 2: This is how to make love. Wow.

Speaker 3: Oh gosh.

Speaker 2: Ooh. Oh my God. Yeah, a little to the left and faster, I show that tests, the edges of what love is worthiness and beauty sex, positive the borders. It can cross how we do integrity in all of our relationships and it's hidden costs and shadows

Speaker 3: In a world where we other, other people where we build walls and just tear down walls,

Speaker 2: Fuck finding it or falling into it. Our future depends on making it.

Speaker 4: Hey there everybody, Laura here. Welcome back to you. Cross it for that sexy heart of yours. This is a podcast where we train to be better practitioners of love and courage and justice in our own lives and out in the world. I'm glad you're here. So purpose booze. That's what we're tackling today. Specifically the shitty side, the shadow side of purpose purposes, and can be a wonderful thing. It can clarify values. It can breed creativity. It can motivate and inspire us. It can be a source of courage or connection or clarity, but, and purpose can also be a trap. It can keep us stuck. It can surface a tremendous amount of fear and like everything in life, it has light and shadow. So what are the shadow sides to purpose? We very rarely talk about these. So I wanna get into them today. Let's jump straight in.

Speaker 4: Number one, sometimes purposes can cause us to externalize our power and that is a shadow side, handing over our power to something or to something else. And that's ironic since purpose is an internal thing, but sometimes we can give purpose too much power. We can believe that we must have one or it needs to be just the right words or it needs to make us feel a very specific way. Very often those are called conditions and there are conditions that we tend to place on purpose. And when we do that, even if it's unconscious, we sometimes fall into this trap of believing that someone else out there or something else out there has the answers, including our purpose. We can believe that we need an expert to guide us to find the right purpose, or we can believe that purpose in and of itself has all the answers for us.

Speaker 4: That something in our life will be different if, and when we have the purpose purpose, and what that does is externalize our power purpose is by definition internal work purpose, isn't found it can't be found. It has to be made. It's created from inside of us. And that means that transformation through purpose also comes from the inside, not the outside. So be mindful of handing too much power over to your purpose either by glorifying it or glorifying an external resource and believing that they have the solutions around your purpose rather than you all right. Another set aside of purpose is that we can start to believe that living out or from our purpose should be really straightforward, should be really clear. Cut. We treat it, uh, sometimes as if it's this absolute thing that when I have my purpose, then I will, will be clear.

Speaker 4: Then I will be confident, whatever it is we tell ourselves will follow purpose and believing the purpose is absolute or straightforward and that it will simplify your life. Well, it's a little bit reductive. It reduces the power of purpose of living it out of, of living toward it, of living from it. My personal experience tells me that the sharper, my purpose becomes the messier things feel because living into and toward and out of our purpose calls, a lot of things into question. It calls relationships into question jobs, marriages, where we live, who we are, what we value. This is why a lot of us subconsciously struggle to pin down a purpose. It's not because we don't have the right words yet, or we're lacking tools. It's because we know that when we have it, it becomes the magnifying glass that we examine our life under.

Speaker 4: And we know it will call us into examination of places. We might be afraid to go. I suppose that in and of itself is another potential shadow side of purpose. That it is an all light and love and happy times. It takes us to some dark corners to examine if and how we're living our life, ISN an alignment with our heart. And that can be a painful conversation. So two for one in this little section, two shadow sides for, for one, if we aren't careful, we can deny ourselves the honest complexity of purpose, and that's a shadow side. And to pin it down to pin down, our purpose often is to be asked, to have honest Frank conversations with ourselves about things that many of us would rather not have to confront. So that's another shadow side. Let's keep going. Another shadow side of purpose is that because it's sometimes hard to measure our progress.

Speaker 4: We can easily feel defeated or despondent along the path of living into our purpose. Growing into our purpose is often kind of invisible work. It's often hard to see progress until the transformation calibrates in our body. Like until we feel it deep inside our bones, you might have a purpose and feel like something's wrong with it because you're not seeing change yet, or it's not feeling good. And sometimes we give into doubt too quickly, embodying purpose living toward it, living out of it, living into it. It's lifelong work. It requires a lot of patience, but because it's often invisible, it can be easy to feel like something isn't working or something's off. So stick with it, have some patience and just be aware that a part of the shadow side of purpose is gonna light up some doubt, because it's hard to measure. We've been so conditioned in our society to overvalue things that can be measured.

Speaker 4: Things that can be tracked. That for a lot of us, we just toss purpose out altogether and we give up on it really, really quick, because purpose is invisible magic and it's hard to track. I don't think the invisibility of purpose is a shadow necessarily, but I do think it's invisibility can light up a lot of our individual shadow side. And it serves us to remember that when we're working with our purpose, okay, last and maybe biggest shadow of them all, if we aren't careful purpose can become a trap. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't have a purpose, but when we believe that purpose is the holy grail, we can get stuck in it. Either always searching for it. If we don't have one like searching endlessly for our purpose or endlessly, trying to live it out to accomplish our purpose, which means what's that phrase, um, to a hammer.

Speaker 4: Everything's a nail. When, when we, we believe that purpose is something to accomplish something, to acquire something to accomplish, we can't see within it. The purpose is constraining us to a set of walls around us. It can generate a sort of purpose hamster wheel that we get stuck in and loop around over and over. And I'll give you some examples. So if your purpose is to be happy in life, for example, and, um, PS friends, a little unsolicited device, I'd avoid this purpose if I could, because it's not possible to be happy all the time. But that aside, if that were your purpose to be happy in life, you might feel deeply constrained by all the moments in life that call you and ask you and require you to feel and acknowledge negative motion, like fear or guilt or pain or shame and so on.

Speaker 4: Because if your purpose is to be happy, you're gonna wanna exclusively move toward pleasure and away from pain. And those two things alone are gonna define and shape your life and your options in really big ways. Let's do another example. If your purpose is to grow and evolve and learn. And my current purpose is some iteration of, of that pretty similar. You might struggle to feel satisfied or satisfiable because if there's always room for improvement in learning, if that is your purpose to learn and grow, you're probably gonna keep chasing the next opportunity. You may rarely stop to pause and acknowledge progress or growth you might struggle to be present. You might also believe that answers come from external sources rather than inside yourself, because you need to learn and grow as your purpose. And if you externalize those solutions and you rarely feel satisfied, enduringly because your purpose is to learn and evolve.

Speaker 4: It that's gonna really limit what's possible for you. So do you see it, the kind of hamster wheel, the yen and the young, the light and the shadow. Let's do one more example. If your purpose is to help others, you might struggle to allow yourself to be helped. You might battle with control and inserting yourself because you wanna help. When that help might not have been requested or wanted or consented to, it might put a strain on your relationships. You might ingrain some dominant thinking around paternalism or martyrdom or patriarchy. You might base your happiness on whether others are happy with you. So we have to enter relationships with our purpose, really mindfully. I'm not reading your Journal's friend. I just happen to know and understand the physics of purposes they're inspiring and beautiful. And sometimes wholly and generate creativity and resilience and passion and clarity.

Speaker 4: And they can also create walls around us. If we aren't careful, they have light and shadow like everything else. So we have to choose them really purposefully because we are choosing the light and the shadow. None of the examples I gave are bad purposes. In fact, any purpose you choose, no matter how radical, no matter how liberatory it's gonna have the potentiality to get you stuck in the shadow land, it will come with light and shadow. So WTF, the good news, I guess, is that it's not really purpose. That does these things that generates these conflicts or these hardships. It's sort of how we relate to our purpose. I personally believe that purpose. Isn't a thing. It's a relationship, whatever my purpose is, and it can change 1 million times in my life. And my personal purpose has changed many times, but whatever it is, am I externalizing it?

Speaker 4: Am I living with it? Am I intimately in relationship with it or to it? Am I chasing it? Am I doubting it? Those are all examples of how I could relate to my purpose. But when we create intimacy with our purpose, when we nurture our purpose, like we nurture a friendship, we can help ensure that we're relating in healthier ways to our purpose. So let me give you a few tips on how to do that. What can you do to help nurture your relationship with your purpose? I'll give you three suggestions and we'll close out first. Scratch down your purpose. If you already have one, just for fun and try to let it be fun. Imagine a new purpose. If you don't have one, guess what you actually do. It's inside you. You've likely been adding some perfectionism into the fire and onto it and avoid putting your best iteration for today.

Speaker 4: Your best purpose for today down on paper. So first day are just due to one down. Take the pressure off, allow it if you want to be your purpose for today and today only like a purpose popup, but whether you've got one or you believe that you don't just jot one down, that's the first step next tip step outside of that purpose and question it. If you've ever had a fantasy, uh, or a kink of being like Sherlock Holmes and kind of detective eat, here you go. Step outside of it and take a good look at it. Don't assume anything is wrong with it. Remember that your purpose has light and shadow. So see if you can find both, but just notice. Hmm. What do I see about this purpose? What do I notice? What are the likely limitations it might create? What wonky societal stuff might accidentally get baked in.

Speaker 4: If I'm not really careful, what are the shadow sides that might hold me back? Where will it ask me to be brave? Where will it ask me to change something in my life? I'm not saying to do this examination and then get scared by what you see, and then believe that you've got the wrong purpose. I'm saying, stay, put and examine it critically. As you should examine anything critically, that's gonna steer or influence your life in your relationships. Remember purpose is complex. So instead of glorifying it or tossing it out altogether or denying an air time, because you're frustrated with it, simply allow it to be the complex thing that it is and try to critically examine it from all sides. Notice the light and the shadow doing this is gonna help you consent to your purpose. You're gonna see it for what it is.

Speaker 4: You're gonna see its potentiality. You're gonna see its warning signs and you're gonna choose it. Anyway. Third tip different Vos obvi have different takes here. I personally recommend changing your purpose during the course of your life. Maybe even regularly for a while. I had a purpose that I thought, um, like I'd finally found the one , um, which sounds a little bit like an episode of the bachelor or something, but it fit so well. And it inspired me really deeply. And I learned to grow into it. And my purpose was at that time, uh, to be in love and that purpose still serves me. But as I saw the limitations that it set for me, I decided I wanted to allow myself just the possibility that another purpose might help me evolve and expand. And so I let it go. I didn't push it away.

Speaker 4: I didn't reject it. I simply let go of my attachment to that as my purpose. And I allowed other ideas to come in. I sort of played with different iterations and purpose, and that set a new room with new walls and new constraints, but it also opened up my world and my perspective. So I think it's really valuable to try on different purposes. I think there's value in choosing a brand new purpose and living it out even just for one day, one day only. And I also think committing to a purpose for years at a time can be tremendously helpful to hold you in the heat. Just sort of long enough to create change and shifts and transformation in your life, that purposes. So exquisitely bring out. So all that to say, try changing it up. If, and when that feels right, maybe it's time to commit to a new purpose for some number of years, or maybe it's time to try one on for a single day.

Speaker 4: Okey doke. We have covered some of the shadow sides of purpose today. Some of the ways that purpose can be tricky and challenging, and there are a lot of other shadows. We didn't talk about like the relationship between being in love with your purpose and experiencing burnout or the polarization that can come with purpose when you share it or giving up certain relationships and friendships because they remain outside of your purpose or they challenge your purpose or the way that purpose can light up fear and anxiety in your life, because you believe in it so deeply. And it takes you to scary places, lots and lots of shadows. The point isn't to be a purpose. Debbie downer far from it. The point today is to allow complex things, to be complex as a practice, to see the light and shadow inherent in all things as a practice to critically examine and reflect on the things that shape and inform who we are as a practice.

Speaker 4: If you need some coaching or support around creating your purpose or living out your purpose or from your purpose, holler at your girl, Laura, Laura Bru. I love an executive at a, um, big media company. I was coaching recently called me their purpose coach, which made me smile. And sometimes we just need a buddy in the ring with us to help us draw out our purpose, bring it out of our heart and see what possibilities and shadows open up for our life as a result. All right, that is it for today. Y'all I hope this conversation around shadow sides of purpose was provocative and juicy and helpful. And until next time, may you have a toed love affair, a sexy intimate relationship in the light and the shadows with your purpose. Bye for now.







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