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Personal Purpose and Power

When you declare your independence from any person or any thing, recognize that doing so is a beginning and not an end. It is not a one-time decision; rather it is a commitment that will require daily — and sometimes moment-to-moment — recommitment. It is a powerful statement of determined intent and not a guarantee of outcome.

In order to be successful at declaring your independence from something, you must be willing to challenge your self-defeating, self-flagellating, and self-hateful, beliefs and inner dialogue. You must also be willing to take the risk of claiming your personal power long before you believe or know for sure that you possess that kind of power. Connect deeply to your sense of purpose and allow it to fuel your declaration. Then, live by your declaration, as watch as you begin to see your personal power flourishing.

Here are some examples of what this might look like in practice:

  1. If you believe in the importance of commitment in your marriage, even if you have a long history of leaving or sabotaging relationships, when the going gets tough, you might declare, “When the temptation to run shows up in the relationship with my spouse, I will face that temptation directly and do whatever it takes for me to say no to it.”
  2. If you were taught that you are better off just settling for whatever you can get in life, you might declare, “I will pursue what I want in my life, and I won’t let old, outdated, false beliefs about myself and my worth or my competence stop me.”

Living as a hostage to self-condemning, self-sabotaging, power-sapping thinking is much like being in a basement of a building (with no windows to the outside) and coming out to discover that a tornado touched down close by and wreaked havoc all around or that the area was struck by a freak mid-summer snowstorm. In other words, this type of thinking leaves people completely cut off from “the external weather conditions.”

Being connecting to and in alignment with our sense of purpose and power can only exist when we have recognized and declared our significance. If we are to be fully responsible for our happiness, we cannot deny that we have contributions to make and that we matter. When we deny or otherwise downplay our significance and ability to make a difference, we are hiding behind our low self-worth and low self-esteem. We aren’t doing ourselves any good and we certainly aren’t helping anyone else by holing up in the private hell of our making.

In the words of Marianne Williamson:

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

I know that I am not alone in accepting judgments from others and taking them to heart, believing them to be the truth. I’m also willing to bet that I am not the only one who struggles even more with passing judgments on myself. In both situations — allowing others’ opinions to define us or engaging in self-indictment — this behavior alienates us from the meaning that is needed if we are to live responsible and fulfilling lives.

In the words of author and psychotherapist Thom Rutledge:

“No matter how strongly we may feel the guilt of our pasts or the pervasive shame of the present, it is never noble to give up on pursuing purpose in our lives.”

Keeping this in mind, I invite you to divide your life purposes into two areas: personal and communal. Think of your communal purpose as the way in which you can serve the world (our community). Meanwhile, your personal purpose describes that which must be resolved (personally) before you can effectively enact your communal purpose.

For example, someone’s communal purpose might be teaching. This person will become more effective in his role as a teacher as he confidently and competently addresses the individual choices associated with his personal purpose of becoming more fully responsible for himself. For instance, these choices might involve financial responsibility or might have to do with commitment in relationships.

Ultimately, in order to be responsible in our lives, we must work from the inside out, beginning by accepting full responsibility for ourselves before proceeding to interact productively with the world around us.

  • In what ways have your beliefs and inner dialogue compromised your personal power?
  • What declarations would you make if you weren’t afraid of or discouraged by fear or past behavior?
  • Reflect upon your own life in terms of your communal and personal purposes.
  • What do you know about your communal purpose and how has this awareness changed and developed through the years?
  • What do you know about your personal purpose and how has this awareness changed and developed through the years?
  • What personal challenges do you still need to address in yourself in order to more effectively engage in your communal purpose(s)?
  • What are some ways in which you are denying, blocking, or hiding from purpose in your life now?
Personal Purpose and Power

Pratibha Anand

Pratibha Anand is a 2021 MD candidate at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Outside of school, Pratibha is a passionate travel enthusiast who holds a deep commitment to service. She speaks both Spanish and French and enjoys hiking mountains, yoga, SCUBA diving, and attending local concerts and theater productions. Stay up to date with Pratibha’s writing at

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APA Reference
Anand, P. (2019). Personal Purpose and Power. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jun 2019 (Originally: 9 Jun 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jun 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.