5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose
"There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive."—Oprah Winfrey
OK, I'm just speaking for myself when I say this, but when I reflect back on my own college experience, I think the worse thing a parent can do is make—and by that, I mean basically force—their child to enroll into a college/university when they are only 17 or 18 years of age. The reason why I say that is because when I graduated from high school at the age of 17, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And college? A big part of what it helps you to do is prepare for your career, which hopefully ties in very well to your life's purpose.
For a lot of young people, it would be better for them to get a full-time job, join AmeriCorps, teach overseas—do something that gives them some time to mature and figure out a few things before thousands of dollars gets shelled out on what ends up being a PhD in life rather than in education.
The chick I am now? I would go to college and get all A's easily. That's because I currently know what my purpose is. And oh, how life is so much more fulfilling, exciting, and even easier when we know what we were sent here to do and we're actually doing it.
Not to say that life doesn't come with its challenges from time to time, but I can confidently say that the most miserable people I know are the ones who either don't know what their purpose is or they put other things before their purpose.
How can you know what category you fall into? If you're living out your purpose, these first five points will fully resonate:
5 Signs You're Living In Your Purpose
1. You Feel a Profound Spiritual Connection to a Higher Power
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Family Ties (it's still got one of my favorite theme songs of all time—"sha-na-na-nah"). Like a lot of little girls, regardless of ethnicity, Michael J. Fox was a crush of mine. Oh, but it wasn't until he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease that he and his wife (someone who actually played his girlfriend on the show) became heroes of mine. I remember watching him on a 20/20 interview years ago. When the interviewer asked him if he was bitter about having the disease, he casually said, "I'm honored that God would entrust me with it."
Although he made quite a mark as an entertainer, Michael has changed lives and affected legislature since he's had Parkinson's. And there's no way he could be so in tune with himself that he'd be grateful for having such a debilitating disease without having some sort of connection to the Most High. That's why I'm totally with him when he says, "I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it's not just divinely assigned."
One way to know that you are living in your purpose is there is a profound sense of spirituality that's attached to it. Not only that but you somehow feel disconnected to that Source when you're not doing what you know you were put on this earth to do.
2. You’re Creating More Than You’re Copying or Duplicating
One of my absolute favorite t-shirts (that you can cop here) simply says, "Created by the Creator to Create." That spiritual connection that I spoke of? One of the things that it does for people who are tapped into their purpose is it shows them how to be truly and authentically creative. Creative people are productive. Creative people are risk-takers. Creative people are originators. Creative people blaze trails more than they follow them. Creative people are the ones who come up with ideas that can't really be compared to anything else. That's because they'd rather create their own blueprint than mimic someone else's.
If you're out here coming up with plans and concepts that folks are calling clever, ingenious, and visionary; if you spend more time praying, meditating, and seeking within than copying or duplicating what folks have already done, this is another pretty telling sign that you're operating within your purpose.
3. Your Natural-Born Gifts Are Being Used
I once heard a pretty good explanation for the difference between our gifts and our talents. Gifts are what come naturally to us; they are the things that we do exceedingly well without a lot of effort on our parts. Talents, on the other hand, are things that we're pretty good at, but we still have to be some extra work in.
My brother? He has a gift for singing. It's like he eats and sleeps it. Me? Folks close to me know that I also can hold a tune, but I consider mine to be a talent. Oh, but put a laptop in front of me and sometimes I'm typing out 8,000-10,000 words a day. It comes very naturally to me to do that. My mother says that when I was a toddler, my favorite thing to do was shake newspaper. For my brother, on the other hand, it was banging on pots and pans. Hmph. Makes sense.
A friend of mine (who is an award-winning producer and a gifted singer in his own right) gives this advice on gifts vs. talents. "If you put all of your effort into doing what you do average, you'll become OK at it. But if you put that into what you are already great at, you become unstoppable. Supernatural, even."
No doubt about it—if you're utilizing your gifts, DAILY, this is another indication that you are working within your purpose.
4. You Are Benefiting Others
This is a good one. A writer and minister by the name of Frederick Buechner once said, "Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's needs." Purpose, by definition, means the reason why we exist. None of us created ourselves, so it's very selfish to use our gifts and abilities purely for personal gain (I'll get more into that in just a sec).
Just think about it. Some of the most profound figures in our earth's history (Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. immediately come to mind) are individuals who used what they had and who they were to help and benefit others.
If you can immediately list 3-5 ways how what you're doing with your life is making the lives of others better, feel good about yourself. It's one more clue that you are living within your purpose.
5. Your Good Days Far Outweigh the Bad
I am not the richest person on the planet. I have trials and tribulations just like everyone else. But guess what? I love my life. I really do! I can't remember the last time I woke up, thought about what was on my to-do list and wanted to stay in bed rather than tackle those things head on.
A big part of this is because I know—that I know, that I know—that I am doing just what I was created to do. When you have that kind of clarity, confidence, and self-awareness, you can't help but feel good about yourself and what only you can do, in your own special way, while being on this planet.
So, now that we've touched on how to know if you're living out your purpose, what are some red flags that you're not?
3 Signs You're Not Living In Your Purpose
1. Money or Fame Is Your Sole Motivator
There are a lot of people out here—almost to the point of it being an epidemic—where, if you tried to figure out how they got rich (in an honorable way) or what they are famous for (that's worth any merit), you tend to draw a blank. Far too much of society is consumed with being wealthy and having fame. It doesn't really matter how they do it, so long as they do. There's a word for that; it's a mercenary. A mercenary is someone who does something solely for money or some type of reward.
There's nothing wrong with making money. We need it to live. Fame is cool, so long as your fame is influencing people for the better (some of the folks making money off of YouTube alone blow my mind when it comes to what they are doing with their platform…it ain't good).
But individuals who are truly living out their purpose, money, and fame doesn't motivate them. Growth does. Helping others does. Feeling a sense of accomplishment that they can be proud of today and when they take their last breath does.
In the pursuit of purpose, it's always a good idea to do a random gut-check to see what is inspiring you to do the things that you do. It reveals a lot.
2. You Can’t Explain Your Purpose in Three Words/Phrases
Something I'm a firm believer of is you should be able to explain your purpose in three words or three (short) phrases; otherwise, you probably don't know. Me? Sex, marriage and the Sabbath are my lanes. They all tie in together because they are covenant principles (my first name speaks to having a covenant with God in Hebrew too). If there are any things that I can never get enough of when it comes to researching, writing and speaking on, it's these topics.
When you know something down in the deepest depths of your being, you don't need a lot of words to explain it. This is what I believe about purpose. That said, if someone were to walk up to your right now and ask, "What's your life's purpose?" could you break it down in three words or phrases? If not…why not?
3. You Constantly Feel Incomplete
A Canadian writer by the name of Oriah once said, "It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dream of meeting your heart's longing." Amen.
Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I am irritated. Sometimes, walking in my purpose is literally a faith journey. But when it comes to fulfilling my purpose, if there's one thing that I never feel, it's incomplete.
This is my final "please take note" indicator that you may not be living within your own purpose. When you're doing what you were sent here to do, no matter how hard life gets sometimes, you still feel an unexplainable sense of wholeness and inner peace. How could you not? You're living out the reason for your existence; nothing is more powerful or reassuring than that.
Even if you've got a high-paying job or you're currently doing something that you constantly get praised for, if deep down, you don't feel whole and complete…don't ignore that tug at your spirit. It's a sign that you're either not fully or not at all living out your purpose.
Stop, reflect and find it. As soon as possible. Because the world certainly needs you functioning in your purpose. After all, that's the main reason why you're here.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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