Have you chosen work from your wound or your desire?
He stared at me with anguish when he realized what he had done. Given that he is someone who had professed repeatedly that he has great difficulty in emoting his feelings, I realized this was not actually true. His grief was written all over his face.
We had just completed an exercise that was designed to help him determine his life purpose. I refer to this exercise as “the pivot”. I’ll explain why in a little bit.
For my client, in doing this exercise, he discovered that almost every decision he had made over his lifetime in regard to his work had been dictated by a lie. I’d like to say this was unusual, but I actually go through this with every person who takes the Vision Program. It comes as a shock to most that much of their lives have been ruled by a delusion. The saddest part is when they realize that is was they themselves who perpetuated the lie. When I say “lie”, what I mean is a story about who you are that isn’t true.
Early in our lives, there is usually an incident or a series of incidents that can be identified as the origin of the lie. You may have been told you were “too much” or “not enough”. You may have been ignored or dismissed. You may have been used or manipulated. You may have been harshly criticized. Or you may have been singled out as the cause of great difficulty. Whatever your particular story is, in essence you were made to feel “wrong” for being who you are. It was at that point you decided, either consciously or unconsciously, to separate yourself from the truth of who you are. This is what I define as the “wound”.
The “wound” is the point when you decided, either consciously or unconsciously, to separate yourself from the truth of who you are.
Oftentimes the wound was inflicted by a person of influence, such as a family member or a teacher. But those stories they told you weren’t true, they were falsities projected onto you because of the wounds they carried. This isn’t about assigning blame, though, we must have compassion for our humanity. It is about understanding the source of your own wound. At the end of the day, the internal fracture you suffered wasn’t because they said those things, it was because you decided to believe them.
Working from the wound
As we progress throughout life, if we don’t challenge this distorted story about who we are, it becomes entrenched in our beliefs. Our beliefs are what dictate our behaviour and are the perspective through which we engage with the world. In other words, the “lie” becomes the lens through which we make decisions.
When we live from our stories of lack and insignificance, we will choose work that plays out the patterns of our core wound. In an attempt to alleviate the pain, we use our work as a way to prove our worthiness, seemingly to others, but ultimately to ourselves. We get stuck in cycles of trying to overcome our perceived shortcomings. All the while, our professional relationships and accomplishments all get filtered through the question that lurks in the dark corner of our minds – am I enough?
After facilitating hundreds of people through the Vision Program, what I have observed is that most have chosen work from a place of separation within themselves and as a result are unsatisfied and unfulfilled in what they do. At the time they sign onto the program, they are not necessarily cognizant of this, but similar to my client mentioned above, they eventually become painfully aware this is true. It makes sense, of course, that these are the people who find their way to my work because discovering your inspired work is all about the journey back to the truth of who you are.
If you wonder if you have chosen work from your wound, some of the indicators that might suggest this is so are:
- You can’t be yourself at work.
- You are often overlooked.
- You don’t feel valued.
- You don’t have opportunities to make a genuine contribution.
- You’re not using your strengths in your work.
- You don’t feel suited to your role.
- Your needs are not being met.
- You are constantly trying to prove yourself.
- You don’t care about your work or the people you work with.
- You don’t find meaning in your work.
- You feel drained at the end of the day.
- You’re always trying to get ahead.
- You dislike your work (or even “hate” it).
If any of this feels familiar, don’t be alarmed. There is life-giving insight to be gained from your wound because the source of your pain is also the font of your heart’s greatest desire.
Pivoting into your desire
Just as others project their wounds onto us, so do we project ours onto the world. In the situation of my client, when I asked him what angers him about the world, he shared that he is repulsed by the abuse of power and extravagant waste of precious resources. But when we investigated his own story, it turns out that he was bullied when young for being different and he reacted to the situation by diminishing himself so as not to stand out. In doing so, he denied his own potential. In his work, he tends to put himself in positions where his perspective is not valued and his own precious resources – his strengths, gifts, and talents – are wasted.
It can be easy for us to point fingers at others and proclaim them to be wrong. It’s less easy to reflect upon our self-perpetuated stories of “wrongness”. But if we can withstand the sting of ripping off the scab and poking around in the wound for just a little bit, we uncover something of enormous significance – the desire to live back into the “rightness” of who we are.
Exposing the wound reveals the desire to live back into the “rightness” of who we are.
My client, who had been unknowingly operating from a story that he was “not enough”, realized what would make his life feel purposeful was to embrace being different. By claiming this, he reclaimed his power from the wound and is now able to redirect that energy into living out his desire. The desire that was sparked was to dedicate himself and his work to help realize potentials for all. So instead of believing the lie about himself and trying to compensate for it, this is a much more empowered stance from which to make decisions about work. Can you sense the difference?
There is so much life lost in trying to overcome our apparent deficits. When my clients recognize they have spent much of their work life being who they are not, this is usually the moment grief arises. It does call for a pause to acknowledge the loss. Once they reclaim their power from the wound and turn in the direction of their desire, work then becomes the place where they can be who they are fully and completely. When we make choices from this place of integrity within, we make completely different decisions. No longer are we needing to prove our worthiness, now our work becomes an expression of our worthiness. This is what I call “the pivot”.
Working from your desire will heal your wound
I rarely use the word “heal” because to me it implies there is something “wrong” with us and as I’ve been trying to get across in this story, this simply isn’t true. Sadly, most of us have adopted stories that make us believe we are wrong. Without recognition of this fallacy, we can become overly fixated on trying to heal the wound. However, we’d be well-served to understand instead what it is wanting to point us towards. Through the experience of living the “lie” of separation, a desire is lit within us. The greater the separation, the greater the desire. That desire is our own inner being calling us to return to our original state of wholeness.
Desire is our own inner call to return to our original state of wholeness.
There is nothing more painful in the human experience than to be separated from the truth of who we are. Actually, there is one thing more painful. To know we are separated and to not know how to return to wholeness. Inspired work is the work that creates a pathway for us to live back into our truth.
When we choose work from a place of desire, the wound actually heals itself. The salve is the recognition that we were never actually separated to begin with, we just got lost in a story that we were. This is not to deny the experience that caused the wound, it is real and we will always have the scar it left. However, over time, it simply ends up becoming a beautiful reminder of the truth of who we are and who we’ve always been, which is enough.
If you would like to talk about how to pivot your work from playing out your wound to living into your desire, apply for your complimentary Discovery Session by clicking the button below. You bring your story. I’ll bring the band-aids.