Finding Purpose

Andre Van Eymeren
Farah Beaini
May 26, 2020
•
5 minute read

Moving Conversations is fast becoming a regular feature on the CBBC landscape. Whether physical or online, these conversations have offered our growing community a strong sense of connectedness, and opportunities to share and learn in ways that are life-giving, direction-clarifying, and inspiring.

May’s Moving Conversation focused on purpose, something we all struggle with at some point in our lives.

What purpose isn’t…

Our conversation went a long way to distilling some of the myths we live with around what purpose is and how it should be pursued.  

Through the conversation we realised that so much of our understanding around our purpose is framed by external expectations, whether from our family of origin, society, mentors or people we admire.

Most often, the strongest expectations come from our own family or culture. For one participant, growing up, their culture had strongly defined what was worthy of pursuing. It was only in moving away from home, that they realised that what they wanted was quite different. Coming from a large family, another participant had been raised to pursue what they wanted last, only after doing what was needed from them – a pattern that eventually left them feeling burnt out and unsatisfied.  

Life experiences and circumstances also have a bearing. Being isolated from community or not being valued for our contributions to society made it difficult to fully pursue our purpose. Trauma and defensive adaptations to the world can take us away from the innocent and gentle aspects of our child-self, making it more difficult to connect to what brings us true joy and meaning in our lives.  

Photograph of a Pinocchio marionette. Quotes from participants in the Finding Purpose discussion included. Quote 1: We confuse purpose with profession. Quote 2: Dreams held and set aside... Losing sight of what is your dream heart. Quote 3: Culture... Parents... It's when I moved away that I changed. My inner calling was 'something else' that didn't fit what I thought growing up.

These external perceptions and forces can lead us to believe that:  

  • our purpose is tied to our profession
  • you only have one purpose and you must find it
  • whatever your purpose is, you must be extraordinary
  • our purpose is to meet the expectations of others.  

Ultimately these perceptions mask or even block us from finding our own sense of purpose. We respond by setting our own dreams aside, striving for things that – like our participant – leave us feeling unfulfilled and exhausted.

What purpose can be…

At CBBC, purpose is one of the elements of our Flourishing Framework™.  It relates more to the journey inward than the attainment of an exterior goal or fulfilment of expectations – even our own.  

Finding your purpose involves the unveiling of your authentic self.  

It’s about taking the time to listen to the truths and values you hold deep within yourself:  

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.  Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. Parker Palmer

Our sense of purpose flows from our core values. As our participants reminded us, it can be something as intimate and specific as being a good husband, or expansive and grand as wanting to change our culture for the better. We can imbue a sense of purpose just by “being,” and express it in the practical ways we care for ourselves.

A kite with a heart graphic on it is soaring in a clear sky. Quotes from participants in the Finding Purpose discussion are included. Quote 1: Taking care of ourselves, simple things can be very purposeful. Quote2: Leaving a footprint of less harm can be enough. Quote 3: My mum is teaching me that we can imbue a sense of purpose just by being. I need her just as much as she needs me.

Viewed in this light, leading a purposeful life is about having the opportunity to live out those values in whatever form or expression you can.

Moving Conversations events are held on the first Tuesday of every month. We believe these conversations provide a much-needed home for community members to explore and tackle difficult and complex issues in a safe, facilitated environment. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for event details. We'd love to see you there.

Header image: Gaelle Marcel

Puppet image: Farah Beaini

Kite image: Vivek Doshi

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