What we can do, and usually do, is look for meaning outside ourselves. But, we can uncover our meaning inside ourselves. Then, instead of doing things to find meaning, we can do things that include our meaning. When we do the things we like doing, we manifest our meaning through those things.
Well then, you might ask, “How do I uncover my meaning?” If you recognize yourself first, it isn’t impossible to uncover your meaning.
When you do uncover your meaning, what are you likely to find? Invariably, you’ll find the things you usually look for externally: security, inner peace, wisdom, clarity, maturity, contentment, meaning, fun, and many other human ingredients. This list isn’t complete, but is indicative of inner values you’ll uncover.
And if you uncover your meaning, you won’t then do something for the clarity it will give you, but because of the clarity you possess that you can bring to whatever you do. As you uncover more of these values inside yourself, using the necessary courage to get past your Factor-x that will attempt to hold you back, you’ll uncover further values. As you uncover your own values, you’ll also notice how those values grow and lead you to uncover further values. This will provide you with strength and confidence to uncover yourself even further; like a perpetual cycle. Oh, but only if you have the courage to be brutally honest.
A warning: You’ll also have many doubts; from time to time, you’ll doubt yourself, because in uncovering yourself more and more, you’ll fit less and less into what society has created and what society you’re a part of. Over time, you’ll see things very differently from how you used to see them and how other people see them. You’ll see things for what they are, because you aren’t looking for value in things outside yourself anymore. Your value system will be very different from what you encounter around you on a daily basis, even moment by moment.
Your preferences will change. Things you used to do will lose their appeal, and you’ll have courage for things you didn’t have courage for previously.
Taking this route won’t necessarily make your life easier, because it will be so diametrically different from your previous supposed preferences and what society expects and dictates. One change, though, is that your life will have meaning. At the same time, you’ll see more and more how society searches for meaning. Your behaviour will change. You’ll notice that in situations where you would have reacted in a certain way, now you’ll respond in some other way: not just to be different, but because the situation and your actions will have different meaning for you.
You might even lose interest in your job, likely because whatever goals or influences drove you before are likely to wane away.
You’ll likely uncover new interests, and might recognize things from your daydreams that now come to fruition.
Every now and then, you might get to a point where you struggle big time. This is likely to be because you’re resisting a next step down the path of your new journey. This will happen because Factor-x is always there; all you have at your disposal is to befriend your Factor-x, thereby defusing its power over you. So, the bigger the struggle, the more your Factor-x influences you to reject or resist taking the next step. Yet you won’t have peace until you exercise your freedom and take the step.
You might even get out of long-term relationships or a marriage, because you now see what has kept you in them, and that it isn’t really serving your partners or you to stay in them.
You might even end friendships, because when you look closely at a friendship with your meaning present, you might see that the friendship is merely a crutch or a false sense of security, or perhaps was never a friendship at all.
Whatever happens and however difficult it might seem at times, you can always remember to look at one thing, and to ask yourself these questions:
With whatever you’re experiencing at the time during tough times, does your life in general have meaning?
Does what you’re struggling with have meaning?
Is what you’re struggling with an attempt to bring meaning to your life? Is what you’re struggling with an attempt to shake off an external stimuli that previously gave you meaning, and now you see that it doesn’t?
What you’ll notice is that as your life revolves around living your meaning, the search for meaning—doing things to bring happiness and so forth—tends to lose its appeal.
And when in a difficult situation or needing to make difficult decisions, you can look at it this way: with your life having meaning, the difficulty seems worth it. Invariably, when you get over the difficulty, you’ll come out the other end even more at peace. Unless, of course, your Factor-x got the better of you. Then, you don’t get to the other end but stay in a circle, repeating the same or similar things, thus merely treating symptoms.
When the dust settles to a certain degree with each difficulty, you’re likely to see your life differently. And it’s likely that you’ll want to share your own findings in your life with others. Most people likely won’t “get” what you’re so excited about, what you’re “going on about,” or what you’d like to share with them. Nevertheless, you’re likely to pursue and manifest your newfound meaning.
Here is an interesting thing for every one of us, including those who have commenced this process: who are traveling this journey. Our lives up to the point before beginning the journey likely accumulated certain expertise in certain directions. It’s likely that we can now employ that expertise as a basis to move forward in whatever direction our meaning guides us. Even our jobs, or whatever expertise we’ve accumulated, can be employed or deployed to serve us as a means to an end. Therefore, we don’t have to radically “throw in the towel” on our lives and become struggling martyrs. No, not at all. Rather, we can make use of what we have and can do to sustain ourselves while turning in the direction as guided by our meaning.
This can be a gradual process, or a sudden, overnight change, or a slow shift into the new direction. Each one of us has our own pace, resources, strengths and struggles.
Notwithstanding, we might go in a wholly different direction.
From time to time, some of the pathway our meaning takes us on will be scary. Imagine that we’re at a point of scaling down our conventional working, and therefore our income, and therefore our expenses. This might be the next step on the path down which our meaning guides us. We might fight it; we might struggle to process or accept it. Either way, if we have the courage of our convictions, our meaning might gradually (or even suddenly) lead us into such new and even scary situations. For example, we might be on the brink of some big change, but not be quite ready due to lack of resources or lack of courage. What’s important is to avoid denying, but rather accept and acknowledge our observations.
When about to make a significant change, some of us might be ready, and just go with it and take the next step irrespective of how big or scary. For others, it might be more difficult. For still others, it might be the biggest step yet. And then there is our Factor-x, which might make it very difficult for us to take a next step.
And if we let it, our Factor-x might just get us completely off the path where our meaning wants to take us. It’s surely a sad day when, due to lack of courage, we don’t go beyond the powers of our Factor-x, and thereby stop pursuing our meaning. But the least we can do, at those times and now, is to acknowledge our Factor-x’s influence on us. It’s always easier not to fight our Factor-x, but to let it come with us on the journey, like a friend rather than the enemy. Keep in mind that although our Factor-x is dead against us moving on the path of our meaning, it’s still a part of us and not the enemy: not something outside us, merely a part of us holding us back because it’s caught up in the quest to disprove our Factor-x. And unfortunately, it doesn’t know any better. That part of us doesn’t know that our Factor-x is based on a figment of our imagination.
Digressing for a moment, it’s ironic that superstars, wealthy people or business giants are most likely being driven by a figment of their imagination: that is, they’re on a quest to disprove their Factor-x. They have huge resources and so many skills, but they most likely lack one thing—knowledge of Factor-x’s influence on their lives.
Back to the courage to get over difficult times, and the need to befriend our Factor-x and take it with us on our path wherever our meaning takes us. Based on what you’ve read so far, it might sound as if there are different, extraneous things making up one person. Yet these are different parts of ourselves: different emotions and components within us that make up an individual. That’s exactly why we cannot move forward while kicking and screaming and fighting with any part of ourselves. On this journey, it’s best to befriend each part, know it exists, acknowledge and accept each part and their contribution to your life, and then move forward, gently taking each part of you with you on your journey.
This way of describing our inner workings also sheds light on the origins of our inner conflicts. It also describes why we have inner conflicts. By seeing why and what goes on inside us, we have a chance to move beyond what holds us back to uncover our meaning, and then move forward down the path as guided by our inner meaning.