Low Tide: Struggling With Purpose

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 4 Comments A+ a-

Ever find yourself thinking about the rhythm of life?

I do. A lot, actually. I don't mean cycles, although that's part of it. I mean the general rhythm, the ebb and flow of energy that carries us through life. Like a tidal flow. Sometimes we're high, covering lots of ground and crashing against the shore with all our strength. Then we withdraw. We pull back into ourselves, into a low period of peace and rest (or despair and unrest, depending on where we're at), gathering ourselves for the next surge forward.

Right now, I'm coming out of low tide. A really, really low tide. The last few months of 2016 were so turbulent that I had to go deep in order to recover. Anyone relate? What does this look like for you? For me, it means sensory balance. Everything thrown out of whack has to be realigned. I find myself sleeping more than usual, eating healthy, exercising, reading, watching Netflix, and having little to no contact with the outside world.

Outside World: Knock, knock
Me: What part of Do Not Disturb
 don't you understand?

Low tide can be an incredibly restorative experience, but it also comes with challenges. Like redefining your purpose. If you're an INFJ, you live with a strong feeling of purpose. You don't always know what it is, exactly, just that it's there. Back in 2015, mine was clear: funnel my energy into a) being a wife and stay-at-home mom, b) writing speculative young-adult fiction and c) blogging about the mysterious existence of INFJs.

Seemed fairly easy. I made great strides. Then 2016 came along, and everything changed. I went through a family issue that put some deep cracks in my heart. It didn't break, but it was sorely tested. That issue impacted every area of my purpose. Especially writing. I'm not one of those people who create well under emotional stress. My best work happens when I'm confident. Without confidence, I started to falter.

Then BOOM--I'm an empty-nester. The sudden release of responsibility left me confused. Some of my responsibilities simply shifted to other things. For the most part, though, my time and freedom opened up. Summer flew by, then autumn. Still, I struggled to stick to that previous 2015 goal. Only I didn't realize how much impact the changes in "a" were having on "b" and "c". But I set my jaw and blindly mapped out November. If you read my last post, you know how well that turned out.

Looking back, I can see that last year was mostly high tide. Wave after wave of change and revelation crashing against the shore. I don't know why it happened, only that I'm picking up the pieces. The funny thing about low tide is how much it reveals. I've found some interesting things sticking out of the sand. Things I should have seen and didn't. So I picked them up. 

And guess what? They're opportunities.

So here I am in January 2017. New home, new city, new situation. I left a lot of good people and comfortable things behind. It hurt to pull up all those roots. They were part of my former purpose. But things are changing. Opportunities are in hand, and the tide is picking up again. I can feel it...water churning beneath me, eager to surge. Something wants to get started. I'm not 100 percent sure what to do about it, but that's pretty typical of an INFJ.

Right? 😏

What about you? Do you struggle with defining your purpose? Was last year a massive purge for you, and if so, did it end up clearing the way for bigger and better--maybe radically different--things? How did you handle the ebb and flow of 2016?

Let me know,


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Christy Haupt
January 12, 2017 at 10:05 AM delete

2016 was a significant introspection event for me as well. I discovered that my life is heavily centered around symbols as triggers to feelings. I journaled heavily listing out good triggers and bad. This went deep finding colors, smells, clothing, times of day I ate and location of where I ate, the plate I chose as my favorite to eat from and why it is my favorite. Anything that had the slightest bad or negative sensation for me (memory linked) I got rid of. I have deliberately created new symbols for my new life and used as many of the positive, good feeling, symbols around me within my sensory field during the day as possible.

The lack of purpose, yes comes and goes, and feels a bit scary as one finishes, but as an infj, I am never without one for any length of time due to my considerable brain power and even stronger drive to help the greater good. There's just so much to do! My problem is picking one and only one so I don't kill myself by the energy drain!! My want to do is bigger than a healthy boundary allows.

January 12, 2017 at 10:30 AM delete

Hey, now that's an intriguing idea...journaling and listing out what symbols trigger positive and negative feelings. I'm going to try that. I've sort of been doing it in my head, but not on paper/laptop. Seeing it written out would make it easier to analyze.

My "want to do" is overwhelming, too, so I try to narrow it down to the things I feel most passionate about. What's challenging is ignoring my Ti logic, which keeps trying to "reason" me into things I don't want to do. Then Se steps in and distracts me with sensory ideas. Seriously, choosing my path would be a lot easier if not for the voices in my head. :)

January 12, 2017 at 3:55 PM delete

Wow. Wow wow wow. That makes soooo much sense. I'm currently trying to come out of my low tide. 2016 was a terrible year of dramatic changes, that I cringe just to think of it. I want a new year, yet I'm terrified of what it might hold. I've set up goals to distract myself from fears I.e. learning yo watercolor, starting a book review blog, work on my own writing ambitions, ect. However I am still struggling with finding my purpose outside of wife and mother.

January 13, 2017 at 8:38 AM delete

You know, I've heard from a lot of people that 2016 was challenging. They either lost their focus or ended up experiencing--as you put it--dramatic change, and I wonder if it was meant to refine us. Rub off our rough edges, clean us up for something different...maybe even clear a path. It can feel a little scary not knowing what comes next.

But I read in a book recently that love and fear are on opposite ends of the spectrum. When we move toward love, the author wrote, fear begins to evaporate. It reminded me of "perfect love casts out fear" from scripture.

So my hope for you (and everyone) is that you will discover and pursue the things you love...things that lift your spirit, make you smile, give you a sense of purpose. In that state of happiness, you'll radiate the joy, kindness, and creativity that inspires people around you. Like the ripple effect of a pebble tossed into water. :)

So keep at it! Read, write, paint, create...be a wife and mother and everything else you want to be. Love with all your heart and tell fear to take a hike, lol. You'll be amazing! <3