Please listen to the module introduction.
If you are not living your unique purpose, then what agenda ends up directing your life? If the matrix of your life is not informed by your Soul’s purpose, then what is shaping your future? When your life doesn’t spring from your Soul’s deepest values, then what values are you living by?
The purpose that moves your life forward when you are not living from either created or soul’s purpose is your default purpose: a combination of bequeathed values from your upbringing and the defensive psychological positions you acquired during childhood. So a simple definition of default purpose is: exterior conditioning + interior defenses = default purpose. As noted, while living from default purpose can be a functional way of living and many people thrive in this manner and lead happy lives, it is a substantially reactive (rather than creative) response to life.
Other names for default purpose include: life scripts, life schemas, inherited life purpose, and (as is all too common) negative core beliefs. A person is not usually conscious of all the different threads of their default purpose. Frequently, a person is aware of a negative core belief, such as, “I must avoid rejection or abandonment at all costs”, but fails to see that this belief is operating as a default life purpose and creating a huge blind spot in how they perceive and operate in their daily reality. Ask yourself, “What values am I living by that were bequeathed to me as a child?”, and “What defensive postures grew up as a result of my childhood?”
A Primer On: Mixing the Colors of Purpose
The 3 Colors Model
The canvas of your days is painted using three colors:
- Default (Red) – The purpose we adopt from our upbringing, parents, culture and society.
- Created (Green) – The purpose we generate independently for ourselves, outside of our socialized conditioning.
- True (Blue) – The purpose of our soul, tapping into our deepest mythopoetic identity.
All three are legitimate purposes. You need not set up a rigid hierarchy in your mind when considering these three facets of purpose. You do not need to (exclusively) choose one of these purposes and discard the rest. Each “color” (or “energy” or “flavor”) of purpose contributes to an important aspect of the uniqueness of your life.
Module 3 Practices
Practice 3:1 – Sorting the 3-Types of Purpose
To get a feel for these three layers of purpose, try this: make a list of all the things you can think of that could be defined as a purpose. You get to set the bar for this exercise, determining what does and does not rise to the status of purpose. Also, it’s not essential that you finish your list. Write as much as you can in about 15 minutes. A partial list of mine might look something like this:
Be loving, give to others, become wise, accept/love myself, seek the ultimate nature of reality, feel safe and secure, experience community and belonging, achieve high self-esteem, be admired, achieve self-actualization in this lifetime, experience self-transcendence, spend as much time as possible with my child and wife, be a good neighbor, enter politics, serve the evolution of our species, produce the next generation of renewable energy products, get rich, volunteer in causes I care about, read/study in areas I care about, never stop learning….
The next step is to sort your list. Take the items in your list and place them into one of the three columns. A sorted list, using the three colors of purpose, might look like this:
|Default Purpose||The inherited values and beliefs from our family and society. Feel safe and secure, belonging, esteem, admiration, become wealthy, be admired.|
|Created Purpose||The purpose we generate ourselves. Become wise, accept/love myself, self-actualization, spend time with my child, be a good neighbor, enter politics, produce, volunteer, study/never stop learning.|
|True (Soul’s) Purpose||The purpose of our soul, our mythopoetic identity. Evolve the species to bring more goodness, truth and beauty into the world, specifically through the unique transformational process of whole-person midwifery.|
Most people live from all three of these purposes, with different ratios reflecting how much of their lives are occupied with each type of purpose. For example:
- Default Purpose – 20% – Be rich and admired.
- Created Purpose – 35% – Be erudite and equanimous.
- True Purpose – 45% – Midwife wholeness.
The Dilemma – Living From Your Default Purpose
Let’s recall that the Purpose Octagon Process is predicated on the understanding that living from your True (Soul’s) purpose is deeper, more authentic (meaning completely indigenous to you) and has more evolutionary impact than living from your default purpose (which is more extrinsically derived). This does not necessarily mean, however, that living from a default purpose cannot offer you a wholesome, impactful and enjoyable life, or that it cannot inform and round out how you apply your soul’s purpose. Your default purpose is not (necessarily) an accident of how you were raised but is part of your life lessons and offering.
There are a few things you may notice here:
- Potential twinship of Default and Soul’s Purpose: A default purpose and a soul’s purpose can be similar or identical. Though unusual, we can see this operate in the example of Martin Luther King Jr’s life, where both his upbringing and his Soul emphasized love and justice.
- Moving beyond Default Purpose: Even in cases where a child is raised in near ideal circumstances, that child may grow up into an adult who feels called to create his or her own unique purpose, or (less commonly) feels called by Soul to discover their deepest purpose, their mythopoetic identity and evolutionary calling.
- Living Unconsciously from Default Purpose: Many of us are largely unaware that we are living from a default purpose. We may not realize it was never our own conscious choice to follow the particular way of life we are currently invested in. We may not even realize there are life-fulfilling options outside of this pathway. Lacking a clear purpose, we may find ourselves in an endless loop chasing relationships, money, material possessions and power, never fulfilled but not knowing what else to do.
- Uncovering Default Purpose presents challenges: Discovering one’s default purpose can be challenging, bringing up feelings of disorientation, anxiety or vulnerability. Sometimes there is an experience of emptiness when we have transitioned away from default purpose but have not yet discovered our soul’s purpose. This can feel painful, even depressing at times.
- The liberation of growing beyond Default Purpose: Discovering one’s default purpose is also a path of freeing oneself towards a life of our own choosing and/or Soul’s choosing. This transformation can become an exhilarating ride into self-discovery, with the potential of freeing oneself of purposes that we have outgrown. Deepening our understanding of default purpose can result in an epiphany: “Finally! Now I know what was holding me back all this time!”
- Strong days and weaker days: Gaining increased clarity about our default purpose makes us stronger, gives us more agency in our lives. Yet there will be moments when the pull of the default purpose is stronger than our desire for living a soul-infused life. Please don’t berate yourself or feel badly when this happens, it is natural and to be expected.
- Disadvantages of living from default purpose: While living from default purpose in some cases can still lead to a wholesome life, it has some serious disadvantages, notably diminished opportunity for self-authorship and the deeper soul-informed callings in your life for which you are uniquely suited, but are not yet living into.
There will always be fears and resistances when we stand at the threshold of a new layer of purpose. One element of our resistance is this: we’ve become habituated to living from our default purpose, and we’re often supported by friends and family (who are living from their default purpose) to not change too much.
By default, many people tend towards the purpose of feeling safe, secure and financially successful. As Maslow noted in his hierarchy of needs, if you don’t have the basics covered (food and shelter), you will not have much energy, motivation or stability for the pursuit of deeper purposes further up the chain. Also, even when your basics are covered, there can be an addictive tendency to move laterally into default purpose (e.g., chasing more riches) with diminishing returns vs. extending deeper into the higher layers of purpose where the real breakthroughs are waiting. While desiring safety and financial security is wholesome and natural, as well as providing the foundation for exploring deeper layers of self, it can carry an immense potential to stifle our desire to discover our soul-level purpose.
It is important to caution you here not to demonize your default purpose. It has played a vital role bringing you this far, but now cannot take you any further. To continue the journey, you need a larger narrative and a pivot. When you were a child, you didn’t have to “turn against” your old slippers as you grew, you merely had to step out of your shoes that were too small. The same analogy applies here.
In one sense we could say that we are all living on purpose, but is it our true purpose or default purpose that is largely guiding our lives?
Money can buy temporary happiness but not lasting fulfillment.
The Solution – Living your Soul’s Purpose
Two conditions support our transition to a purpose-driven life: our personal dissatisfaction with a life that conforms to our default purpose; and our longing for a deeper connection to our true life purpose. Dissatisfaction can sound like this: “I’ve got the job, got the partner, got the car, got the home…but I’m not fulfilled. Now what?” Longing can sound like this, “I like my life, it’s good, I don’t feel compelled to ditch it. But I also feel a stirring in my depths, a longing that feels spiritual, transpersonal, profound and soulful, that has begun to mysteriously call to me. I want to start exploring this calling.” This is the “call” to the great adventure of soul discovery.
Transitioning from default purpose to soul’s purpose is a gradual and challenging process. Activities, friends, defenses or substances that distance you from the mysterious depths of your Soul will inhibit your ability to stick with purpose discovery long enough and intensely enough to discover the images and symbols at the center of your being.
The Practice – Reduce the influence of the default purpose
“A great disaster happens when we miss our star and follow the lights of others or simply become lost in the darkness.” – Michael Meade
Pursuing a default purpose past its expiration date can lead you away from your deepest calling, whereas the soul’s purpose draws you forward into living your destiny. As long as your strongest driving desire originates from default life purpose, your ability to fulfill your soul’s destiny is thwarted. You who are reading this have been called. Have faith that you have been called. Your goal in this module is to decrease the influence of your default purpose, in order to create space for your soul’s purpose to emerge with ever greater clarity.
The first step of the process is to apply the 3 Colors Model described above, and to learn to distinguish between your default purpose, your created purpose and your soul’s purpose. (Note: We will be delving into the subject of the created purpose in Module #4.)
Default Purpose vs. Created Purpose vs. True Purpose
|Default Purpose||Created Purpose||True (Soul’s) Purpose|
|Purpose 1.0||Purpose 2.0||Purpose 3.0|
|Initial||Unique/Upgraded||Abiding Purpose / Final Purpose|
|Given by other influential humans (Family & Society)||Created by a healthy egoic sense of self||Eternal – revealed through transpersonal means|
|Sometimes Evolutionary||Frequently Evolutionary||Always Evolutionary|
|Concern: wide or narrow||Wider concern||Widest possible concern you can manage at any given time|
|Socially Authored||Self Authored||Soul Authored|
|Danger of inauthenticity, living someone else’s vision||Frequently authentic and autonomous||Thoroughly Authentic|
|Can be reactionary (Wounded or Neurotic)||Occasionally reactionary, often creative||Non-reactionary, inspired creativity.|
|Preserving the safety and predictability of the status quo as much as possible||Challenging and re-creating current reality, but still controlling the outcome||Surrendering to deep guidance and flowing with the higher callings and forces in life|
|Inherited Life Script/Schema||Created Life Script/Schema||Scriptless, deep listening|
|Sometimes unconscious||Conscious (tip of the iceberg)||Full spectrum consciousness (touching bottom of the iceberg)|
|Usually non-native to Soul, possibly even oppositional||Connected to growing aspects of Soul but through a largely mental or egoic framework||Fully indigenous to Soul, in its own language|
|Sometimes scarcity based||More abundance||Love and trust based|
Practice 3:2 – Discovering Your Default Life-Purpose
Next to each sentence put the number (1-5) that most accurately reflects the pervasiveness of this script in your life.
- I must avoid rejection at all costs.
- I must avoid abandonment at all costs.
- I must avoid suffering at all costs.
- I have to accomplish everything on my own.
- I must not make waves or take up too much space.
- If I’m not perfect, I don’t deserve happiness.
- I will never be enough.
- I don’t deserve what I want: (circle one) success, love, purpose, money, or…
- I must not surpass, be more successful, or smarter than: (circle one) mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends, others, etc.
- I must play the role of a martyr.
- I must avoid feeling vulnerable at all costs.
- If I let my guard down and trust people or life more, I will be taken advantage of.
- I must not be wrong.
- Everyone must approve of me.
- Following my own path is selfish and irresponsible.
- If I rock the boat too much, I will be unsafe and will drown.
- I cannot be too strong or bold.
- If I want something in life, I have to fight hard for it and control it to keep it.
- I’m not important enough, smart enough, or valuable enough to listen to.
- Living my purpose is egotistical. Thinking that I have a purpose is pretentious.
- I cannot gain momentum in my life because I’m paralyzed by my past.
- Being successful and being spiritual are incompatible.
- I’m a failure.
- I’m a loser, I’m useless, I’m stupid, or I’m ugly… (circle one or more).
- I’ll never amount to anything.
- I’ll never get ahead.
- I don’t deserve happiness because I: (circle one) cheated, lied, stole, or…
- No one pays attention to me.
- I’ve worked hard to get here, and if I change my script now I will slide back down and suffer.
- Write some of your own scripts starting with these sentence stems:
- I must not ever be…
- I cannot…
- I will never…
Drawing from the scripts you’ve ranked with high numbers (i.e., 4s and 5s), copy the five highest ranked sentences below. Before you copy each script, be sure to take a moment to think about the wording, asking, “Is there a way to write this that fits my situation more accurately?”. If the answer is “yes”, go ahead and tweak those scripts so they more precisely reflect your inner life.
Using the list above, whittle your lists of scripts down to a single sentence (two at most) that best describes the default purpose you (at least sometimes) automatically live by. Give yourself permission to “tune in” to the exact wording of your default purpose.
Practice 3:3 – “What Would Soul Do?”
1. Over the next 3 days, pay particular attention to interactions, self-talk and behaviors that seem to be rooted in the soils of your default purpose.
2. Then, for the following 4 days, when you see yourself living in alignment with your default purpose, ask, “What would I say or do differently if I were living my soul’s purpose?” In other words, “What would Soul do?”, “What would True Purpose choose?”
Give yourself credit (and a warm hug) for the work that you have done. You are in the process of clearing out your outgrown default purpose to create a space for something utterly new and generative to emerge: your Soul’s true purpose. Limiting beliefs do not always want to be seen, and putting the light of your attention on them can make them feel uncomfortable. Just continue to greet them with love and kindness, and slowly you will outgrow that which no longer serves you. This can be a powerful and confrontative module. You’re going to be facing growing pains, and I want you to know two things: it’s going to be OK, and your guides are here for you.
Module 3 Summary
- 3:1 – Sorted 3-Types of Purpose – Compose your sorted list, using the three colors of purpose described in this exercise.
- 3:2 – Discovering Your Default Purpose – Compose your 1-3 sentence default purpose as described in this exercise.
- 3:3 – What Would Soul Do? – Write about your experience using this inquiry.
Write at least one paragraph about your experience engaging each of the practices above. Email your writing to your Purpose Guide™ before your meeting for this Module.
You can find all the needed information on the Soul Circle page. The Soul Circle meetings are very important. Make sure you schedule them within the suggested time frames.
Convene your Soul Circle Meeting 1 on the subject, “How do I hold myself back?” You’ll want to report/explore what you learned about your Default Purpose with your Soul Circle. Write about your Soul Circle experience (submit your writing next week, after the Soul Circle meeting).
Soulcraft – Read:
Chapter 2- Groundwork – A Briefing for the Descent to Soul