What happens when you are not following your true calling

by Annelise Mitchell October 14, 2016

What happens when you are not following your true calling

Does any of the following sound familiar?

When you think about your future, you see nothing but boredom and drudgery – you even feel dread.

You go through the motions of the day-to-day, but you mostly feel numb and apathetic.

You crave unhealthy snacks and alcohol to numb your pain. Or anything else that will distract you from facing the reality that has become your life.

You feel so tired that your body seems to invite flus, viruses, and even illnesses you’ve never heard of.

You can’t hear your inner voice, and often doubt that it even exists.

You even go into shutdown mode. It is like your body has shifted into robot-like state.

If you have identified with even one of the above, you are not living your true calling and, in fact, you are living out someone else’s.

Click on the following to access a Free Worksheet on how to find out what you are truly passionate about.

You will recognise how far you are from your inner voice by your depth of pain and frustration.

The more pain and frustration, the further away from your calling you are, and if you are no longer feeling pain, you are in the danger zone. This zone will either lead you to depression or to change.

This is how I felt when I realised that I could no longer stay a high school teacher. I looked around me and saw very bored teachers going through the motions and creating very little. I constantly felt stifled and frustrated. I wanted to write and create but with so many hours dedicated to classroom teaching and grading assessment, there was little time and energy for much else.

I remember a good friend and fellow teacher say to me, “Annelise, you always underreact to things.”

Underreact, I thought. I felt paralysed and powerless to do anything about anything.

The more I looked around my immediate circle of friends and colleagues, the more passive I would become.

When you are suffering, you must step away to gain clarity and to begin connecting with those activities that you find most meaningful. This is very hard to do when you feel distressed. You will tend to close off, turn inward and say goodbye to who you really are.

Worst of all, exhaustion will kill your natural creativity, especially exhaustion from work that does not inspire you.

The only solution for me was to step away. I tried to carry a “side-gig” for a number of years but I found that when you’re embroiled in the culture and politics of a workplace, it is hard to see other ways of being in the world, and almost impossible to hear your inner voice. I felt completely silenced. I was overloaded by information and the affairs of others.

When we are living for others, and trying to conform to the expectations of the group, we lose a lot of our intuitive power and spontaneity – we are creatively blocked because we are disconnected from our inner voice – the person we really are.

The consequence of our boredom and restlessness is passivity. Our mind closes off and we merely become like an automaton, reacting to the world around us. At its most extreme, we become limp-like, and rarely feel strong emotions. It is as though we are deliberately holding ourselves back, not getting our teeth into life because the life we are living is not a reflection of who we are.

Ultimately, we feel powerless, and in the framework we are living in, we are.

Where does this powerlessness come from?

It is a product of the times we are living in.

We are living in a world that fosters the idea that we must get things quickly and cheaply. This includes finding work that provides us with comfort and security as quickly as possible. As a result, we don’t spend the necessary time to learn what activities will prove most meaningful in the long run. This is exacerbated by a culture where goods are consumed at an ever increasing pace, to the point where we are led to believe, why bother spending time on connecting to my inner voice, when there are machines that can make things at the cheapest price possible, and what I create will be lost in all the noise.

We also want to be accepted by others, especially those most close to us, our parents and friends. We believe that if we express what is different about us, we will be rejected. From our childhood experiences, we may have even internalised the belief that what is different about us is embarrassing or painful.

As a result, we unconsciously conform to these ideas by lowering our efforts and discipline, thus turning away from our inner voice. We’ve become infected by narratives that convince us that we are limited to what we can accomplish in life.

This is why we have found ourselves in the position of being in a career that is not fulfilling, and may even be making us miserable.

We have chosen a career pathway that others can see, or what is believed to be the “sure thing” or the “time-and-tested path.” Our parents will often perpetuate this way of thinking because they want us seeking paths that are lucrative and comfortable. What we don’t realise during this period is that through conforming to all these social expectations, we are losing touch with who we really are.

How do you know you have lost touch with your inner voice?

You come to model your inner voice on the voice of others, setting forth on a dangerous path of choosing a career or life that does not really suit you.

You know when you are going through this because your lack of true desire for your work is catching up with you. You feel like a cog in a machine, merely going through the motions but not ripping into the work with gusto and glee.

You grow increasingly passive, frustrated and even depressed, never realising that the source of your despair is your alienation from your creative potential – your inner voice has been silenced.

You even seek pleasure and fulfillment outside of your work, but find that no matter how much you try to gain pleasure from these external activities, you feel a gaping big void.

To regain your intuitive power, as Robert Greene highlights in his book Mastery, you must return to those activities that filled you with joy and wonder when you were little. For it is in these activities that you will see what you are meant to be doing as an adult.

This is not a simple process – you will need to take your time and develop skills in the areas that you love doing, despite their lack of immediate monetary reward.

The lack of immediate financial reward is the clincher…

The biggest tragedy about internalising the narratives of other people is that we submit our will to these individuals, and our submission results in passivity. We even wait to be probed to do things. We don’t act unless provided with immediate monetary rewards. No money = no work.

This is what prevents a lot of individuals entering the field of entrepreneurship – they need to spend so much time doing things that will often not see immediate payoffs.

The issue here is that to create things of true value, such as a work of art, we need to spend hours, weeks and years in the act of creation, and the fuel to carry us through these endless hours will be the intrinsic reward of doing the activity. If we rely only on extrinsic rewards, such as money and fame, we will tend to see and do those activities that seem immediately beneficial. This closes us off from not only opportunity but from ourselves. We ignore our inner voice because it seems so unclear and elusive. Therefore, the immediate benefits of working in a job that pays well narrows our thinking. We can’t see beyond it.

This is why we believe we have no true calling. Our inner voice is drowned out. And this is exactly what those in power want. It is not a conspiracy; it is just the reality of the world. Those in power want obedient workers, and our schools are designed to create just that. Obedient, compliant and passive workers.

Your goal is to not become captive to the opinions and fears of others. This may require being selective in who you talk to about your dreams and aspirations. You will notice that when you do share your ideas with those who are conforming to these dominant narratives, you will feel a sense of dread and powerlessness.

Do not allow these ideas to silence your inner voice.

If you allow the acerbic cynicism of others to infect you, you will continue to feel disconnected and locked into a narrow chamber of thought that does not serve you, and it will doom you to a life that is unfulfilling. You will be continually distracted, unable to think in depth, and devastatingly, unable to depend on your inner voice.

I’ve seen this in family and friends and the outcome is devastating. They don’t know who they are and as a result they are locked in an endless spiral of activities that don’t serve their long-term interests. You know what these activities are.

Watching tv, drinking alcohol, engaging in toxic gossip, taking prescription and non-perspective drugs, and even self-prescribing with not only drugs but the most powerful drug of all, food. One of the most passive-inducing activities.

It is a ruthless spiral of events that makes you turn against yourself, and it can only lead to bitterness and despair.

Before it is too late, you need to do the work that will allow you to recognise your inner voice, that force within yourself that will help guide you toward your full potential.

Call this strategic manoeuvring – where you deliberately seek experiences that will allow you to flourish and realise the full flowering of your inner voice.

This is when you will know that you are following your true calling.

Click on the following to access a Free Worksheet on how to find your true calling.

How to find your true calling worksheet by Life-changing Learning

Annelise Mitchell
Annelise Mitchell


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