For many years, my soul was trying to guide me, but I wasn’t paying attention. Even when my soul tried to communicate with big glaring WARNING signs or GO HERE billboards, I disregarded the signs. Thinking back to the year 2000, I have to laugh when I think about how my former husband and I stood in line for three hours at the courthouse to get our marriage certificate. And finally, when we were at the very front of the line, belly up to the courthouse clerk, there was a bomb threat. A BOMB THREAT! I literally turned to my fiancé and said, “Is it a sign?”
Of course it was a sign, Lissa! I’d already received other, more subtle signs that foretold the destructive patterns that later became impossible to ignore. But I overlooked those signs at the time, just like I ignored the flashing red bomb threat that forced us to evacuate the courthouse.
Why did I ignore such blatant soul guidance? Because I was attached to marrying this guy, so I wrote it off as “coincidence,” even though somewhere deep within me, I knew better.
How “Should” Interferes With Soul Guidance
Consider the times you’ve ignored your soul’s guidance. Chances are good that you did so because you thought you should. The wedding invites are already sent, so you should go through with the wedding. You’ve already spent so many years training for the job your soul wants you to leave. The money is good. It’s a secure job in an insecure economy. You should stay. Your soul is telling you that you don’t have to take care of the elderly relative who treats you like dirt, but another part of you thinks you should. You’re working yourself to death to pay for the fancy house and the private school, and your soul is telling you to simplify, downsize, and send the kids to public school. But you don’t think you should sacrifice their quality of life for yours.
How can you tell if you’ve found your calling? As a doctor who was called to medicine at a young age but then wound up disillusioned by the system, questioning my calling, I’ve asked myself this question a lot. It’s been a long strange trip- first leaving medicine, then feeling called back, then leaving again only to find my role in healing our broken health care system as a writer, speaker, revolutionary, and teacher of physicians. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about how to know whether you’re on the right track.
1. You’ll realize you’ve been training for your calling since the moment you were born.
Even the gritty things, the disappointments, the regrets, and the screw ups, they were all prepping you for what you’re now being called to do. You’ll realize that the divorce, the bankruptcy, the death of your loved one, the failure, the rejection- it was just school, teaching you the lessons your soul needed to learn in order to be who you’re being called to be.
2. Mystical things will start happening.
You might be tempted to write them off as coincidences, only they’re too perfect, too exactly what you need in that particular moment, too much like miracles to call them accidents. The synchronicities will fill you with a sense of wonder, because they’re proof positive that you’re being guided, that you’re not in this alone, that Someone is moving mountains to ensure that your mission is a success.
3. When you get off course, you’ll get redirected.
Doors you longed to walk through will slam shut. If you take the wrong fork in the road, your path will be littered with barbed wire and mustard gas and dragons and sharp knives lining the path. You will get the hint that you’ve made a wrong turn, steering yourself off course from your date with destiny, when the journey becomes a relentless struggle. The deal will fall through. The money will run out. The mentor who’s been providing the magical gifts won’t follow you onto the wrong path. People won’t sign up. You’ll be rerouted just as magically as you were steered to your calling in the first place.
4. You’ll be guided by ease, even in the face of obstacles.
When you find yourself struggling to get through an obstacle-ridden forest, it can be hard to tell- is your commitment just being tested, or have you veered off course? Obstacles can be part of the growth process, the cultivation of your inner hero, a necessary part of your hero’s journey. But they can also be signs that you’ve made a wrong turn. How can you tell the difference? The guidepost you can trust is a sense of movement towards ease. If the challenges are mounting, things are getting worse, one hard struggle is piling upon the other, you’ve probably gotten seduced off course from your true calling, and the Universe is just waiting patiently, twiddling Divine thumbs because you have free will, but never giving up faith that you will find your way back to your calling, which will always lead you to your own holy grail. When you’re back on track, things start to flow again.
5. Magical mentors will appear just in the nick of time.
We all know stress is bad for us, yet many of us wear it like a badge of honor. See if this sounds familiar:Dude: “OMG, I’m so stressed out! I’m working 14 hour days and haven’t used my vacation days for two years now, but hey - sometimes you just gotta keep your eye on the prize, right? Hey, you still seeing that guy?”Dudette: “Nah. We tried to make it work, but it was such a headache. Relationships are just too stressful. Plus, who has time for a relationship when you’re on a deadline and you’ve got the boss lady to impress?”
You know the drill.
Many of us are stress addicts. We claim to want inner peace, but if life gets too peaceful, we go seeking our next hit of our drugs of choice - cortisol and epinephrine. It’s almost as if being stressed makes us feel important, valuable, and useful. What we forget is that we’re already worthy souls deserving of love and a sense of worth, simply because we are all little sparks of divinity, shining our lights on the planet.
Why Should We Avoid Stress?
Our bodies know how to heal themselves. In my new book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, I share boatloads of data about the placebo effect, which provides concrete proof that the body is equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that are under the control of our brilliant minds.
Our bodies know how to fix broken proteins, kill cancer cells, retard aging, and fight infection. They even know how to heal ulcers, make skin lesions disappear and knit together broken bones!
But here’s the kicker - those natural self-repair mechanisms don’t work if you’re stressed! No wonder Dude and Dudette wind up sick or injured!
It’s been an enormous month for me. I was inducted into the Association of Transformational Leadership and that led to a slew of potential business opportunities that came rushing in. One guy wants to help me train physicians in the Whole Health approach to patient care I used in my clinical practice, which I also teach in my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, May 2013).
I also just saw the documentary film Escape Fire, about how to rescue our broken health care system, and at the screening, I met Dr. Dean Ornish and spoke to him about the radical mind-body medicine programs he’s been using for decades to effectively reverse heart disease - programs which, after 16 years of Dr. Ornish battling Congress, Medicare is now covering.
And now I’m prepping for the speeches I’ll be giving at the Take Back Your Health conference in Washington DC, the Hay House I Can Do It IGNITE conference in NYC, and TEDx American Riviera in Santa Barbara.
There have also been other big shifts. After ten years of not working outside the home, my husband just took a job with a charitable nonprofit involved in education. And I just started a mentorship program for my art, and after nearly three years of essentially neglecting my art career, my visual arts gears are churning again.