Following Your Bliss

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

— Joseph Campbell

One of the inspirations for my own career path has been Joseph Campbell’s incredible work The Hero’s Journey, and specifically the idea of “following your bliss”: connecting to your own authentic path in life, listening to your heart, your truth and trusting the deep impulse within us to live a life that truly makes us most alive.

From a transpersonal psychology perspective, this is described as ‘hearing our note’ and as we listen the tune gets louder and clearer.

It is often during the most challenging times in our life that we start to listen. Over the past 12 months within coaching sessions with clients, understandably I have experienced clients re-calibrating the paths they have chosen for their careers in light of the impact of Covid-19 and their world being shaken up.

As a result of the current crisis and the falling away of the stories and delusions they carry about how work and life should be, they are opening up to a potential life they truly wish to engage with.

“I just can’t tolerate this behaviour anymore, it all feels pointless” or “it just does not feel like what I am supposed to be doing, I don’t want to waste my life any further” have been calling cards for coachees to re-evaluate and connect to a deeper sense of energy and purpose in their life.

As a former colleague of mine, Diana Whitmore, used to say, ‘there’s a diamond in the rough’: this is an underlying hypothesis in transpersonal coaching that means in times of crises we often connect to an emergent purpose, and this provides us with a deeper sense of our true path in life.

I am sure if you pause for a moment and consider the difficult times in your own life, you will likely see now the meaning and choices that arose from these periods for you.  

A psychosynthesis map that I have used with my clients over recent months to explore their experience is the 2 Dimensions of Growth – see the diagram below: 

This map points to the journey we are making in our lives. We can think of the dotted line in the middle reflecting the connection and movement towards our higher purpose.

In our society, we are often more attached to the Quantitative Axis — the achievement and accumulation of success in our personal and professional lives. The Qualitative Axis represents connection with our ‘spirituality’ / our values.

Many of my clients this year have experienced the depicted ‘Crises of Meaning’ (or Existential Crisis) where the impact of the pandemic has made them question their quest for success, and as a result there has been a reactive impulse to move towards a deeper sense of purpose.

(As you can see there is also a ‘Crisis of Duality’ on the vertical axis but more about that in a future blog post).

This resultant movement will often create a significant change in the individual’s life, and coaching is a mechanism to support them to work this through and move from a place of reactivity to conscious choice and responsiveness.

Coaching a client through a crisis of meaning provides them with the opportunity to work through this time of change through learning that they do not have control of the outer conditions, and yet can change their inner response. Through this development process, they start to truly see the relationship between their inner conditioning and the outer world.  

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

— Viktor E. Frankl

As the news of the vaccines emerges, you may be considering the potential for your work and life in 2021 and ‘returning back to normal.’

Now think about how many of the structures, routines and conditions have fallen away for you since lockdown began: are you unconsciously stepping into next year? What story are you creating now for your life? When you do emerge out of lockdown, what do you want to bring with you?

“Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style.”

— Rebecca Solnit

The 2 Dimensions of Growth provides us with a map of how we can live more consciously and connected to our purpose so as you consider this for yourself, what life do you want to be living? What are you passionate about? What are your gifts? What might that be telling you about your true path?

How can you truly follow your bliss?

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

— Joseph Campbell

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