Why am I here?
Humans might be the only creature on Earth that can conceive of this question. The question itself shows how separated from life humans can get—particularly in comparison to other animals.
Think of the tiger. A tiger's just a tiger. They have no doubts about how to behave, who to mate with, or what to eat. We humans are a different beast!
Levels of "Why"
The human question "Why am I here?" has many levels of context. Here are three to consider:
Species: Like all species on Earth, we're an expression of creation. Regardless of the source of the creation, humans come from, and are born into, the state of Oneness with All. After birth, we grow into individuals separated from Oneness. Becoming individuated from Oneness happens due to having an ego, whose job it is to ensure the survival of our species. And of course, like all life on Earth, humans are here to grow, sustain life, and renew it through death.
Spiritual: This context reflects the belief system that a person's raised in. This can be altered as an adult. My perspective is that the human experience is about learning how to be uniquely separate, and yet also at one with All. This can be described in the familiar saying, "we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
Personal: This context is the life of the individual, and it's asked from different perspectives:
- When suffering as a victim, it's asked with hopelessness or despair, as in "why me?"
- When in anger, it's filled with resentment, as in "why me and not them?"
- When in a state of personal responsibility, it reflects dissatisfaction with current circumstances, as in "why did I allow this to happen?"
- In a frame of compassion, it taps into love for others, as "I'm here for you."
- Through the eyes of mutual fulfillment, it's about how to authentically be of service to both oneself and others, as in "why are we here together?"
- When in relationship to the Divine, it reflects a need for more meaning in life, as in "why am I here as me?"
- Once this meaning is identified, the context can shift to a desire to understand the Truth about our role in the act of life itself, as in "I'm here now."
My Cry of Why
I began my "cry of why" as a five-year-old, starting with the victim’s "why me," since my family dysfunction was alive and well! My father left when I was a toddler, leaving my mother pregnant on top of caring for two tots.
My victim energy was a tap root into fear. My fear was triggered by my father’s sudden departure from the home, and amplified by my mother’s terror. She had reason to be terrified! She was alone in a new town, half a country away from her family. Add to this that in the late 1950s, a single, divorced, pregnant mother rarely could find employment. This was long before female independence was the norm. Dad disappeared. She was alone with no emotional support or money.
My "why me" became triggered even more when I entered first grade. Why don’t the other kids like me? Why doesn’t the teacher see me when I raise my hand? Why do the other kids make fun of me?
One day after school, I was struck with a metaphorical bolt of lightning to my heart. I realized that my bicycle had been stolen from the bike rack! My bike was my escape vehicle to get home to my safety zone! Why am I being treated so meanly by the world?
As I grew into my young adult twenties, I slowly made progress. I skipped over "why me and not them" anger and resentment because my parents fought, and then my dad left. I unconsciously decided that anger wasn't going to work for me.
Instead, I aimed for the compassion of "I'm here for you."
I knew about emotional pain, so this perspective fit like a glove. However, in doing this I skipped over "why did I allow this to happen?" Then I found a wise, trustworthy someone (my spiritual teacher) who taught me about personal responsibility. I finally got my balance and began to make traction up the ladder of Why.
Making "Why" More Clear
When you ask "why am I here?" from the perspective of wanting more meaning in your life, this indicates that you're at a portal of self-understanding. You're in touch with your potential.
Bob Edelstein, an existential-humanistic psychotherapist, explains it this way,
“We are connected to the world, and everyone and everything in it. We know that we are not separate from anyone or anything. We believe there is something greater than ourselves. There is something greater than our personality or ego that it is important to stay open to."
Of course, there are many approaches to answering this question. Intuition and logic are two of them. Intuition is just an inner knowing of why you’re here, and what your gift is. The logical approach involves inner objective examination, naming your strengths and weaknesses. A combination of both is ideal!
Bruce D Schneider, author of Uncovering the Life of Your Dreams, suggests a place to begin this inner exploration through an attitude he calls COOL: curious, open, optimistic, and loving. These attitudes create an opening in your daily life for exploring who you truly are, using any method you choose.
Inner Space Scientist
Today there's a plethora of ways to "Know Thyself." However, you must really want the answers!
This is where curiosity really can serve you. Curiosity is defined as the desire to know. Some also relate curiosity to nosiness and consider it rude to pry into other people’s inner thoughts and feelings. However, when curiosity is applied to oneself, you can be as bold as you want!
How nosy are you about who you truly are? Are you being nosy or is it more "knowsy?" Wordplay aside, curiosity is the first key to unlock your Truth. Whether you use an intuitional approach or a logical one, being an Inner Space Scientist is helpful. This involves staying objective, holding no criticism, and observing solely to obtain your Truth.
Meditation with this scientific curiosity is a powerful tool! It allows you to pause your mind and the story you tell yourself about who you are. It creates an opening of inner space for you to observe your filters.
Doing this puts you in the driver’s seat. You can consider what you've discovered, and then—if you don’t like it—you can rewrite your story. If you're good with what you find inside, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe a blend of both?
Journaling is another tool for scientific curiosity. Writing down your story at the end of each day allows you to consider what other ways you might look at your challenges and opportunities. It's also a chance to capture how your authentic gifts showed up that day. You can ponder what all of this might tell you about your life purpose.
The Butterfly Effect
Your unique and authentic purpose is always present. Your purpose is a process, not an end or an event. It isn't static. It evolves through how you apply your gifts. You're like the butterfly . . .
First, you create your cocoon. When the caterpillar knows it’s time to transform, it weaves its own cocoon. This signals the start of an inner journey. Your cocoon at first feels safe but soon is clearly restrictive and uncomfortable. When fully transformed from caterpillar to butterfly, the butterfly can no longer stand being in the cocoon.
Its efforts to push out of the cocoon are actually painful. Yet, it endures this pain so it can emerge as its authentic, true self. Without the struggle and discomfort of breaking out of the cocoon, the butterfly’s wings won’t be up to the task of flying. Experiments have shown that when cutting open a cocoon to make emergence easier for the butterfly, it ends up unable to fly, falling to the ground only to die.
You, the caterpillar, are shaped by your life’s gifts and challenges. Even your genetic and environmental influences are necessary for you to transform into your highest and best self.
When you're free of your cocoon, you can fly through life, sharing your gifts with every flower you land on. You live the life of the unique butterfly that you are, pollinating all you touch with your special ways, words, and energy. The simple movement of your wings impacts trade winds on the other side of the planet - the butterfly effect. Your life's filled with meaning, inspiration, and joy.
The answer you yearn for in your cry "why am I here?" lies deep inside of your heart. Do what you need to do to receive those messages, in whatever ways they come to you.
Your fulfillment of a meaningful life comes from the inside, not the outside. Whatever methods you use to access that well-of-authenticity in yourself, I can testify that it’s infinitely worth the effort.
Ready, Set, Action!
As always, I invite you to explore these topics that I write about in your own unique way, by yourself or with others. Share with me about how it's going and what blocks you're running into. You can use the comment section below, or for more privacy, email me at [email protected]
Written by Laura Abernathy
This article contains interpretations of concepts found in Energy Leadership: The 7 Level Framework for Mastery In Life and Business, written by Bruce D Schneider, and taught by iPEC Coaching.