Monday, September 7, 2015

What Does Your Occupation Say About You?

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Life Lessons: Hidden In Plain Sight

That job you’ve been doing for the last 30, 40, 50 years is a major part of your life purpose, you say?

Well… Probably not.

I mean, yeah, it kind of is because you’ve so far made it a central focus of your time on this planet. But that’s not really where I’m going with this.

I’m leaning not towards things such as why it seems you are here, what work runs in your family, or what has fallen into your lap, but: For what purpose did your soul incarnate here?

Because I can tell you as I look around that most people are not so much fulfilling a life purpose through their occupations as they are actually unwittingly responding to a subconscious drive. They’re spending 8+ hours per day, 5+ days per week staring with blind infatuation at their life’s most gigantic signpost—the very signpost that would reveal to them their greatest internal life obstacle.

The very signpost which, if acknowledged and its associated internal imbalances resolved, would align them with their deeper meaning for being here.

Purpose Is an Extension of Internal Fulfillment, a Consequence of Some Degree of Soul Realization. It Is Thus Internally Realized, Not Externally Given.

Let’s Consider:

Who of us does for a living what our parents do themselves and/or want us to do? Who of us are doing for a living what happened to fall into our lap? Who of us are working for a boss who shares traits with either/both of our parents (overbearing, lazy, greedy, etc.)?

Who of us has taken up a certain place in the workforce seeking to fill our lives with a certain quality—for instance, we’ve joined the military because we’d believed we needed to prove to others, “I’m brave,” or “I’m honor-worthy”?

Even if we totally dig our work, these questions must be asked. Because the simple fact is that most of us are doing for the sake of doing without ever recognizing the higher purpose for which we’ve become involved in that doing.

Although this topic covers nearly every occupation, let’s use someone having a family lineage of firefighting as a for instance.

Your grandfather was a firefighter. He had four children, all of whom were also firefighters. Of course, one of these children is one of you parents. Growing up within this firefighter-identified setting and all of its beliefs and fears and such, you’re come to think it a great way to make a living—brings in money, saves lives, makes one courageous, etc.

As a child you’d played with firetrucks and always dressed up as a fireman on Halloween. Once you’d reached high school age, you volunteered at the local fire station. Once out of school, you’d promptly attained all the required training and became a full-time firefighter. All without a second thought.

But what if you would have had a second thought? Before all this firehouse work, what if you’d have self-inquired as to whether such work is truly what you want or if there could be something deeper within it?

Like you want it not because you truly want it but because it’s what others want and expect of you. Or because it practically fell into your lap and you don't like the discomfort of trying new things. Or because it carries a thread of guidance to your greatest internal life obstacle—the obstacle you don’t recognize consciously but your soul knows and reveals to you subconsciously?

Occupation as a revealer of your greatest life obstacle. Yes. In choosing to be a firefighter (and because the universe loves puns), you might ask yourself questions such as…
  • What am I truly burning to be, to do?
  • What is smoldering within me?
  • Who’s life am I really seeking to save?

Intense stuff, I know. But critical nonetheless. After all, what purpose would we have for being here as individuals if we’re merely meant to live out the desires of our parents and families, of our societies, religions, and governments?

Rarely if ever does any kind of satisfactory life purpose come so easily as family lineage or by waiting for the “right time” and “right place.” Satisfactory life purpose doesn’t come automatically by doing everything we’re told to do by government, religion, et al. (though most of us fail to see that we are indeed “doing everything we’re told.”)

No. True fulfillment and purpose come through understanding who and what we truly are and why we are here. It comes through understanding the deeper meanings of each aspect of our lives and then integrating what we learn into our experience of life.

So you see, wanting to become a firefighter is (likely) nothing but an outwardly manifested circumstance created by you unconsciously as a means of overtly directing you to the fact that internally you are, say:

Burning to be free of familial “we are firefighters” identity constraints. The angry rejection you’d received from your parents as a child and your subsequent emotional repression when telling them you wanted to be a water salesman has been smoldering in you for ages. The life you are truly seeking to save from “burning up” is none other than—your own.

Life Shatters. Then Transcendence.

To those who are unaware of the cosmic irony of life, this may all sound so silly, so foolish. But this is how we humans feel about most things which are potentially heavy on both mind and emotions once revealed to us in even the most minor of light.

[Indeed, it’s probably why we’ve created jokes the way we have—because we sense or know there’s a truth untold yet fear saying it plainly; we know we can express that truth in the guise of humor and receive approval rather than condemnation. Indeed, it’s the very fact that a joke is truthful that makes it so funny.]

So, sure, when coming across something so direct as the message here, that the occupation one has been working at for a lifetime has been nothing more (or less) than a guidepost to their greatest life/internal/personality obstacle, well, it can be life shattering.

Yet, this same situation is meant to be a source of empowerment.

Nothing can even begin to change until we recognize there’s some kind of misalignment. How could it if we don’t even consciously know something is there to be healed? But now we know. And like G.I. Joe said of knowing, it’s half the battle.

Once the acknowledgement is made we can then do the internal work to figure out whatever is needed about why we’ve been doing our chosen external work. Why have I chosen this occupation? If I’ve been drawn to this line of work because Life has a lesson for me in it, what is that lesson? What negative traits do my family members share with the people I work with, the traits that drive me mad? What are the similarities between my internal nature and my external work?

It’s with this internal effort that transcendence can come through. The stages of life are really not much different than passing from 2nd to 3rd grade: we learn the appropriate lessons and we more on to bigger and better things…

Or we don’t learn the lessons, and we don’t move on. We repeat 2nd grade again and again and again. (Ever notice how your 1st boss treated you like a fool? Just like your 2nd and 3rd bosses? Just like your father? Do you see who the common denominator is?)

Plus, when we work a job in blindness as to its deeper personal meaning, we’re always unconsciously looking for that job to fill some void within us. And from time to time maybe it does sort of seem to do the trick. Inevitably, however, that fullness will always fade.

When we clear out life issues, the fullness is realized internally and it stays. Granted, afterward there will arise more life obstacles, but with any true internal shift there comes a corresponding perceptual and/or external shift; meaning, we realize our experience is not what we’d thought and we can be more at peace with it and/or we change occupations altogether because the subconscious programming which had been fueling our perception that we could fill a void by way of our occupation has gone kaput.

What Does Your Occupation Say About You?

Let’s now take a closer look at some occupations. Let’s see what your occupation may be saying about you. Or asking.

Is what you’re doing really, truly you? Is it really, truly you’re soul’s desire? Or—no matter how much you may claim to like what you do—have you unconsciously chosen your occupational path as a means of creating a doorway to one of your life’s greatest lessons?

Below I have constructed a varied list of occupations and just one of many potential signposts each of them may be presenting. Keeping in mind that the external is a mirror of the internal, your task (should you choose to accept it) is to use these examples as direction for self-inquiry of your own occupation.

Be it known that I am in no way attempting to suggest that any of these or other occupations are wrong or unimportant or any such thing. Clearly, as life is unfolding in this present moment, all of these things are right and necessary for one reason or another. It’s just that, were we to truly look within, we may very well find a striking correlation between our work and some of the most repressed feelings we carry…

  • Repairman: What really are you hoping to fix?
  • Psychologist: Who’s sanity really needs to be restored?
  • Police Officer: Who really feels arrested, imprisoned?
  • Baker: What is really baking?
  • Doctor: Who really seeks to be healed?
  • Accountant: Who’s worth really needs to be balanced?
  • Grave Digger: Who is really feeling dead?
  • Mathematician: What really needs to be solved?
  • Disc Jockey: What really yearns to be heard?
  • Soldier: Where is the battleground that really clamors for ceasefire?
  • Maid: What really is so unclean?
  • Teacher: Who really doesn’t know?
  • Video Game Programmer: Who really feels played?
  • Demolitions Expert: What are you really trying to destroy?
  • Equestrian: Where do things really feel "un-stable"? […Funny, sure. But could it also be true?...]

Make the Conscious Choice

More often than not, we choose occupations not with free will, as we’d like to believe, but due to the influence of two things:
  1. Subconscious needs,
  2. The external influence of family and society and the like.
Of the first item, I guess the question is: “Why Not?” If life is a continual learning process, why wouldn’t our occupations be the external home to some of the greatest lessons available to us?

Of the second: We must always remember that we are individuals, each on our own journey. The fact of the matter is that even if our parents are both firefighters and we have 16 brothers and sisters who are all firefighters doesn’t mean that we, too, are supposed to be a firefighter. Heck, they’re probably all playing the same unconscious game we are.

And, again, this is not to knock any given occupation. Each one is serving its purpose, whatever that may be, for better or for worse. And while some folks may leave their jobs and take a wholly new path after releasing their occupation-related internally suppressed garbage, some may find themselves continuing on exactly as they had been, only because the junk isn’t there they’ll be able to do their job so much better.

So why not chew on this idea for a little bit? Do some occupational self-inquiry.

Notice that your attention has been riveted so closely to the work you do that you’ve not been able to see the bigger picture—that your occupation is a life lesson hidden in plain sight.

Allow yourself to step back and refocus. Be like a firefighter. Pull back far enough to see that the blaze that’s forever threatening to burn you from the inside out can be put out completely with the fire extinguisher that is already and has always been within you.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

[Section added 12/5/2015.]

Since initially writing this piece, it’s occurred to me that aside from our use of any current or past occupation as an internal guidepost, there are other similar and perhaps equally powerful ways to discern the deeper truth of ourselves.

Childhood Aspirations
At one time or another probably everyone has been asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? And although we might have said a farmer or a doctor or an astronaut, it’s far from a given that we do indeed become what we’d desired to be as a child. Especially the astronaut types—like me.

No matter, the key is that we’d had that draw to begin with. For some kids, I would say, their draw is authentic. However, since foundational trauma and programming is established within a child in its earliest years, I would speculate that the draw for the majority is, unbeknownst to them, either or both of two things. Let’s use the instance of, Dad’s a doctor, so I want to be a doctor.
  1. Parental approval.
  2. Naturally, as a naive and uninformed human, the child doesn’t realize that Dad’s over-working, meticulously medical nature is not healthy but is instead a plea to his patients and the medical community for approval. The child thus comes to believe that: Dad only approves of those you work up to his standards. If I want his approval, I must become like him.
  3. Internal Resonance.
    Although occurring at a level below conscious comprehension, the child recognizes: Doctor Dad is very important and helps people. But because he is never around, I feel unimportant and helpless. Maybe I can get these feelings back if I become a doctor myself.
Another good place to look for inner-self-related imbalances is as reflected in the toys we’d played with as children. To explain this one, I’ll use myself as an example.

As a child I loved to play with Legos. While I don’t regret this for a moment, it’s now evident that my resonance with them goes deeper than I ever could have imagined.

One item of note is that Legos are about putting things together, about building things. Not much different from my time later in life working as a mechanical engineering technologist building machinery. Why's this important? Because I’d already believed, even as a child, that “things are broken and it’s my responsibility to put them back together.”

Also of Legos, the two main themes to hold my interest were those of Space Exploration and City Fire Fighters. While I’m not exactly sure the meaning of the space theme (I suspect it’s more of a soul yearning for a return to Infinity than about a specific life lesson), it seems far more than mere “coincidence” to me that I, the kid who’d spent his whole life struggling with anger—with an inner burning—would have such an interest in the Fire Fighter collection.

Why not take a look back at your own childhood. Is there someone you'd held a preference for dressing up as or certain toys you'd been particularly fond of? See what you come up with. I'm sure you'll surprise yourself.

Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 9/20/14 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

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