Purpose. It can be a really nebulous word that is banded about in wellness, spiritual and self care spaces (to name a few) with no real tangible meaning. Previously I would shudder when people spoke of purpose, it evoked the same feeling as the word “manifest” but I’ll speak more on that another time.
Previously Purpose felt like an excuse people used when they wanted to quit something, ‘I hate my job, this is not my purpose’. There were times I used the word purpose as an excuse… ok ok I saw the word purpose as an excuse because I was using it as an excuse. Then last year I had to take a good look at myself and dig deep into the middle and learn to see myself fully rather than oscillate across 180 degrees of myself, swinging from bright light to deep within the shadows until the pendulum swung ferociously in the shadows making everything gloomy, dull and tarnished. At times the pendulum swung so fast it was hard to breathe, an ordinary obstacle became a huge wall, my knees would become spongy and slack and everything felt unsafe. The pendulum remained there until I described my symptoms to a therapist who explained that what I was describing were actually panic attacks. ME, PANIC ATTACK WTF?
First I kicked myself, I should have known. I worked as a social worker for well over a decade and my special interest was mental and emotional health. How is it that I didn’t recognise my symptoms? Firstly I was arrogant enough to believe that this could ever be my truth. Secondly it is all to easy to pack away the truth when it is uncomfortable and thirdly advice/ guidance is so much sweeter as It flows off the tongue and away from the body. Lastly I had become accustomed to living on the edge of my life taking in half and sleep walking through the rest.
Sleep walking allowed things to fester and get bigger as they played on loop in my subconscious, seeping out during interactions with others, some judgement here, masking things there, highlighting the ‘faults’ in others whilst casting a shadow on mine. I got to a point where I felt like I was watching myself perform life. As I watched my self-esteem plummeted; I wasn’t enjoying my performance and my physical health became compromised whilst my emotional health remained unchecked.
In many ways I thank God for the anxiety which lead to panic attacks culminating in a big one where passers by looked at me in my smart suit unsure whether I needed assistance or to be left alone. I needed assistance but was breathing far too shallow to speak. That panic attack forced me to my GP, then a self referral for therapy (a post coming about that soon, NHS mental health services are a shambles and information about alternatives are more guarded than the crown jewels). As I sat in a safe space with a qualified professor I listened, I absorbed and accepted the words flowing in the room immediately because deep down I knew. Hearing my vulnerabilities outside of my body with qualified professionals was freeing. This pattern of behaviour had a name. The name became a starting point on the road to freedom from limits born of internalised messages that were not my own and stories I had created. How does this lead to purpose you may wonder?
I spent years being busy, my career fed the narrative of being busy I was swamped, overwhelmed at times. Due to the nature of the job and lack of resources I was constantly running. The culture of social work is that if you are not running yourself ragged, you are not doing your job properly. Busy became my a symbol of my value consequently, there was no real time to think everything was autopilot, no purpose just go. My natural curiosity was turned outward as there was no space for introspection whilst juggling a demanding career and life as a single mother with a side hustle. However, compromised mental health and a severely weakened immune system which I believe is psychosomatic forced me to stop, be still and listen.
A major part of that listening came via journaling. Getting the stories and overthinking out of my head, on to paper then reviewing enabled me to establish patterns of behaviour (good & bad) and their source. It was like holding up a mirror that could delve into the past to make sense of the present. Seeing my emotions on paper brought clarity and purpose giving me no option other than waking up, taking charge and following my passions. As such Three Sixty was developed and birthed despite regular bouts of fear because purpose is stronger than any self sabotaging my mind can create.
I am not going to pretend I journal all the time, but bearing in mind the changes I made and the grounding sense of peace I have now I wonder what life would be like if I journaled daily. During episode 5 of the Three Sixty podcast: Three Sixty Conversations, Jessica Rogers talks about the power of 4 minute journaling. We are staring a 10 day 4 minute journal challenge staring on 28th May and would love you to join us. Please check out our Instagram accounts @livethreesixty and @jessrogerscoach for more information.
Also please note that journaling is part of my unravelling and journey inward. I’ve engaged in other deep work. Journaling is not a panacea!
I hope you can join us in our challenge, who knows it may become part of our daily routine!