Dr. Romance writes: 

It's easy to get discouraged when we become aware of the  suffering throughout the world: natural disasters; racial prejudice; addiction and self-destruction; political oppression in its many forms (starvation, war, torture, misinformation, imprisonment, denial of rights of speech, health and human dignity, and just plain bigotry and  nastiness). My own reaction, years ago, was despair. "I can't stand it! So much suffering! So many issues! There's nothing significant I can do."

Gradually, with the help of wiser people, I came to realize that I wasn't supposed to do it ALL.  I just needed to do a part.  But what part?  Through the next couple of years, I began to learn about my inner wisdom, my unique birthright, my own peculiarities and talents. The result is satisfying work, and a fulfilling life.

Since each of us is unique, with different genetic mixes, different fingerprints, different gifts and personalities, let's imagine that there must be a reason for our uniqueness; a Plan.  Included in the Plan is a special place for each of us, and we have been designed, by a Super Intelligence, for a special task within the Plan. Supposing that Plan exists, what is your part in it?  What  were you designed to do?  What's your "job on earth"?  

If you feel confused or overwhelmed by life, or if your life seems to have no meaning, no important reason for your existence, spend some time pondering the Plan.  Try reading God's mind a little: Imagine -- If you were God, and you had created the human being that is you, what would you have created that person for?   It's an interesting puzzle, and the clues are in your unique characteristics.  Are you a good listener? Then maybe counseling is your intended "job".  Are you a mathematical whiz?  A musician?  An artist? Can you make people laugh? Are you a wonderful friend? All of these talents can be used in unique ways to make the world a little better. For example, if you like to make people laugh, and you enjoy elderly people, perhaps entertaining, volunteering, or  working in a senior citizen's center  is your special place.  Or if you are a survivor of abuse or illness, perhaps your life work lies in helping others survive.

Like me, many others have found it useful to ponder solve this riddle.  The clues and hints are subtle, but they exist.  The secret to your life's purpose is hidden in your heart's desire.  Discover that, and you discover meaning, joy and purpose.  There is a Plan, and you fit within it.  No one has been omitted, every small link fits.  As you discover your secret mission, and join the rhythm of the Intelligent Plan, life begins to run itself, doubt fades, and joy becomes a more frequent companion.  Try listening to your heart, and to the obvious things about you, and you'll find it works. 

 "Whatever your age," writes Dr. Bernie Siegel In Peace, Love and Healing, "if you learn to listen, your inner voice will speak to you about your path... your ‘job on earth.’  

"To find in ourselves what makes life worth living is risky business," writes Marsha Sinetar in Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics,  "for it means that once we know it we must seek it.  It also means that without it life will be valueless."

Did you know that problems with compulsive eating, substance abuse, destructive addictive relationships, and obsessive behavior are most often misguided attempts to satisfy the heart's desire? 

Within each of us is a driving force, that will NOT give up and go away.  We can attempt to drown it out with loud, raucous living, to anesthetize it with food, drink or drugs, to avoid it through some zealotry or other, to ignore it by working obsessively, to be too overwhelmed drama and agony to notice it; but  as soon as the unavoidable quiet moment happens, there it is, urging us on. Often, people misread this uncomfortable inner restlessness and call it "fear" or "loneliness", but it is only the call of the heart. Until we acknowledge it, it will not allow us to be at peace. Believe it or not, our hearts are filled with purpose and meaning, and will constantly press us to discover our true desire and act upon it.  

I find that many people who come to me for counseling are "autophobic" -- afraid of themselves.  They are afraid of feeling emotion, afraid of being forced to be alone with themselves, afraid to find out what is actually inside them. It actually comes down to fearing the power within.  We can run very fast, but we can’t  escape who we are. The greatest minds in history insist that the costs of denying your heart's desire are far greater than anything that could happen by following it.  When my clients overcome their reluctance to know who they are, they release an inner power that transforms their lives.  I have seen the beauty of these changes over and over again. 

I invite you to get acquainted with your heart's desire, to slow down and find out what is inside, straining to get out, longing to make contact with you.  Make a "sacred space" for yourself, and spend a little time in it, at first reading or listening to music, and little by little listening to your heart. Perhaps it will change your life, as it has so many others. You can read more about how to do this in "Your Heart's Desire" and   It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction .

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For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.