Last week we explored some of the symptoms of a developing 'midlife crisis,' and I suggested another way of viewing such a crisis as a 'crisis of meaning.'

[See article: Heading Towards a Midlife Crisis?

So what can you do when you lose your sense of self and purpose?

What is the road to recovering your true Self?

It starts by recognizing that you've been living a 'case of mistaken identity.'

You Aren't Who You've Thought You Were

The first step along the road to recovering your true Self is to recognize that you're not who you've thought you were.

It's like you've gone through all your life thinking you were Bobbie Jones, the child of Mary and Bob Jones, then you find out on your sixteenth birthday that your real name is Dale Smith, and your parents are Cindy and Carl.

But, in truth, the case of mistaken identity you've been living is even more dramatic than that. The you you've come to know is made up of the 'molecules of meaning' that you ascribed to things that happened to you in your early, formative years during times when you felt threatened or unsafe.

They may have been severely traumatic, like the loss of a parent, or milder, like someone repeatedly telling you that you'd never amount to anything.

In the Life On Purpose Process we identify this as the Inherited Purpose -- the fear and lack-based lie you've been telling yourself about yourself and about life for so long that you've come to believe it to be true.

In other words, you've identified yourself as this lie and have gone about enrolling others to relate to you in this way.

Recognizing the Lie

The good news -- it's not the truth -- it's a lie.

What gives this lie so much power in shaping your life is that you've thought it was the truth.

It's simply who you are, or more accurately, it's who you've considered yourself to be. So it operates quietly in the background of your awareness shaping your decisions, choices and actions.

But when you begin to identify it for what it is, you pull it to the foreground of your consciousness and can then choose whether to allow it to shape your life or not.

(The process of identifying your unique Inherited Purpose is covered in depth starting on page 107 of the book, Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life.)

As we begin to recognize the Inherited Purpose for the lie it is, the natural question that arises next is, "If that's not who I am, then who am I really?" And that begins the next leg of this journey....which we will continue on next week.

In the meantime remember that each person has their own unique Inherited Purpose because we each had a unique set of circumstances in our early childhood years, and we unconsciously ascribed meaning to them.

While uncovering the Inherited Purpose can often feel like trying to look at the back of your head without a mirror, (try that now, but don't give yourself whiplash), here are a few questions to get you started:

Life on Purpose1. What are the earliest memories you had of a time or times when you felt unsafe or threatened? (Example - I remember when my father 'saved' me from a large snake when I was 3-4 years old.)

2. What happened? (Example - I was sitting out in the driveway 'building' an airplane out of sticks. I saw another stick out of the corner of my eye, and went to pick it up. Just as I was about to touch it, I looked over and saw it was a large black snake that had slithered out of the garden. I screamed bloody murder. My dad ran outside and drove the snake away.

3. Think back to what meaning you ascribed to what happened? (Example - My dad is superman and my hero, and I'll never be as strong and brave as he is. Also, it's a dangerous world out there.)

If you want to explore the Inherited Purpose in more depth, check out these resources:

The book, Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life available as an audiobook, quality paperback and hard cover

The Life On Purpose Home Study Course - Available as an online 'virtual program' and a 'deliver-to-your-door course'

- all available at Life On Purpose.

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Life On Purpose Virtual Video Coach

Brad Swift explains:

A web-based coaching program that allows the user to self-direct themselves along the Purposeful Path using the Life On Purpose Process as their road map and with me, Brad Swift, the originator of the Process, as their guide.  It is intended to help people:

    * Clarify their true, Divinely Inspired Life Purpose once and for all, and in the process,

    * Uncover that aspects of themselves that tends to stop them from living a full-blown and authentic life, then

    * Provide them with the tools and the means to, over time, design their life to be a true reflection of their purpose.

Two of the testimonials:

Steve Pavlina, author of Personal Development for Smart People has been through the Life On Purpose Virtual Video Coach. After his experience of the life on purpose process, he wrote me this email:

"I was able to go through your entire video course last week, including all the videos, the workbook, and the bonuses. You really did an outstanding job on this program! I love your step by step process and how you incorporated personal stories.

"Your program even helped me get a clearer sense of my own life purpose as well as my inherited purpose, so it will be easy for me to recommend it. I find it really helpful to think of my purpose in terms of beingness, not just doingness. I also gained more clarity about what I enjoy most, such as exploring the space between technology and personal development and finding ways to apply technology to enhance personal growth… "
-Steve Pavlina, Personal Development for Smart People

"The passage about uncovering and clarifying my inherited purpose– you know, the "darkside of purpose" that sabotages my results– has awaken me to WHY my life was stuck on a hamster wheel. Once I was able to understand, become aware of, and heal my inherited purpose, life began working for me and a newly founded peace and inspired functional purpose emanated through. Just that one passage dramatically changed my life forever. Thank you!"  -
-Nick Pfennigwerth, Creative Wealth Building

>For more information see A Life That Matters Free Video Series