To Do or To Be – Is there really a question?
I fear that we have started to use the word “purpose” as another way of describing what we do. We are so fixated on doing and busyness, and if truth be told, it is probably because surface living is perceived as being “easier” than delving deep and seeking out our innermost world. My experience contradicts this but I can see it from both sides.
So what is the difference between doing and being?
I can only really write about it from my perspective and I am sure you will find various different interpretations out there. When I hear the word “DOING” it has an external energy for me, a push, kind of like hitting something repeatedly with your head. Doing-mode feels automated, disconnected and routine, a physical action that is taking place with minimal input from anything other than hands and the drive to “get it over with”!
I feel a sense of doing unto the world – it is hard to describe - but it feels like it is something that happens without depth and soul.
It might be planned, it might be reactive, what is missing is connection and integration - the ACTION becomes the piece of ultimate importance and we start to add meaning to our lives solely through what we DO.
I see it a lot and can hear it when people talk about their work – the emphasis is always on the importance of “the job” without much thought to the person who is doing it! If you are at the mercy of a doing mindset or are constantly on a doing mission you are measured by the outside world and influenced heavily by the opinions of others.
“Am I doing the right thing?”
“Is this good enough?”
You look at your worth in terms of doing things well and how important they are to the people around you. I believe that this doing focus is also one of the reasons why many people feel like they are surviving life and living to work, as opposed to experiencing life - working to live, grow, learn and express into the world a unique contribution.
Being, on the other hand, starts with “who I am” (not what I do) – it works from the inside out. It starts at my very core, my truest self.
Different verb; different energy.
I find it sad that we often use “I am” to describe what we do – “I am a business coach” – and then we wonder why our jobs have become such an internalised part of our self concept, our language makes it so! For me, this explains the “identity crisis” that we often experience when we leave a particular employment, especially if that employment gave us safety and significance – who am I if I am not a business coach?
When we start to look at who we really are we can begin to unfold our true nature into the world. The “doing” bit loses importance as it becomes and expression of who we are and I can be me doing a variety of different things! When we are “being” and expressing our true nature through what we do then there is a greater sense of fulfilment. We don’t need to ask questions about right and enough, because we know.
We just know!
We know that our time and energy is being invested into a path that reflects our true nature, where we can authentically show up as ourselves in every task, every action and every relationship – no measures and markers of success. We free our true nature instead of trying to fix ourselves and fix our life, there is no longer a need for permission because there is a natural flow that bypasses the self imposed limitations and the perceived limitations projected or imposed by others.
Knowing is a really lovely space to be in.
When I first went through this process of self discovery I was not quite so open to all possibilities. I was quite sceptical and to be honest thought it was all a little bit flappy and floaty when compared to the psychology research and studies I was doing at the same time. In retrospect, I can see know that by doing these two very different approaches concurrently allowed me to be present to the contrast, plus my rational brain was well occupied which gave a space for my intuition to play uninterrupted in the purpose work. At the end of the 2-day process, my purpose emerged in a metaphor. Initially I was quite disappointed because I compared mine to other peoples and felt cheated. Their metaphors were so creative, sparkly and meaningful – full of rainbows and consciousness and bouncing balls of light.
I was a DIY manual.
However, the more I thought about it and felt into it, the realisation dawned that I could not BE anything else! I am a manual full of information that is real, tangible, accurate and applicable, not online, an offline book of wisdom! This information is shared in a very simple and open way so that others can apply it for themselves - my approach is grounded and practical. I help people take pieces (whatever those pieces may be) and build the connections required to create something whole and complete. I do not force myself onto people - they can choose to use this manual or to build blind. If people do use me to guide their ‘construction’ process you can guarantee there will not be any bolts or screws left unassigned and that the end result will look like the picture on the cover (the vision). I only accompany the development process so that next time something similar needs building it can be done without me because the skills, knowledge and action confidence are transferred and easily replicated, I make sure that there is no long term dependency on the information source!
This is my truth.
This is the truth that never changes.
I take this metaphor with me everywhere and apply it to everything I do, without hesitation or doubt.
I own it! This truth set me free!
Through this process I found deeper insight into myself. I made the connections between things I was passionate about and discovered how they all fitted together. I stopped living on the surface, caught in a trap of illusion and survival, and moved beyond the obvious to reclaim my gifts. I realised that you cannot DO happy, creative, success or worth – you have to BE ALL OF THEM.
I also learned that creating a dependency on my external world would never bring happiness, worth and purpose – taking externally measured worth and internalising it is only ever going to lead to feeling “not enough”. Your outer world reflects back at you the inner experience of who you are.
I can guarantee that no amount of doing will ever be enough. No changes you make to your outer world will ever lead to lasting fulfilment.
Make the switch.
Start on the inside, know yourself first, discover your essence then free your true nature. From this point you can explore your natural expression and how that becomes your presence in the world, how you show up, and before you know it you are experiencing life and all your doing comes from a place of flow.
It is all about you.
You cannot hide from it forever and the sooner you open yourself up to your inner truth the sooner you can stop wondering what your purpose is – it is who you bring to what you do that really counts.
If you are interested in exploring this work with me, check out my upcoming workshop