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Your Search For Meaning and Purpose: A Psychologist’s Best Answer

The Questions

Why am I here?

What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

What is my purpose?

What’s it all about?

Who am I?

Why do some people frequently struggle with these questions, while others seem to move more comfortably through their lives, barely wondering about such larger issues?

16961800678_8f2b0dd5a7_meaningIf you think deeply by asking questions such as these, you are living in a more complex way than most people. But there is a silver lining to your complicated style. The depth of your thinking offers you a richer life experience than staying at the surface.

Think about swimming in the ocean vs. scuba diving. The two views are totally different. When you dive, you see the submerged flora and fauna. You experience the underwater world, and you feel a part of something vast and deep. It makes you amazed and excited and curious.

There are significant advantages to being a deep-thinking, questioning person. After all, when you’re a searcher, you are more likely to find things.

The Search

So let’s take a moment to talk about your questioning. The fact that you’re searching tells us that something is missing for you. Is it Meaning? Purpose? Direction? A sense of connection to something?

In my work as a psychologist I have encountered many lovely people who are searching for all of these things. They have established good lives for themselves, and appear perfectly happy from the outside. Yet they are troubled by questions; by the feeling that something vital is missing in their lives, or in themselves.

It took me years of listening, observing, and asking to gradually begin to understand what was actually missing for these fine people.

When I did I was very surprised.

A Psychologist’s Best Answer

You are looking for something very real that is missing. You are looking for something that you have probably never considered. Something real, biological and actually very present.

You are searching for your own feelings.

In today’s world, emotions are not considered to be particularly important. We value thoughts far more than feelings. On top of that, thousands upon thousands of children are growing up in families that are treating their feelings as invisible, irrelevant, or unwelcome. Thousands upon thousands of adults were raised that way themselves. This way of living is rampant in today’s world.

I call it Childhood Emotional Neglect. It is everywhere.

A child who grows up with her (or his) feelings ignored enough automatically does a remarkable thing to adapt. She pushes her emotions down and away, so that they will not interfere in her childhood home. Then, decades later as an adult, she lacks proper access to this rich, deep, powerful resource within her.

Science has established the power of our feelings. Your emotions are the most deeply personal, biological part of who you are. When we have access to our feelings and use them in a healthy way, they tell us who we are. They motivate us, inform us, and direct us. They stimulate us and they connect us to ourselves and others.

Our emotions make us feel. When we feel we know we are real. We know we exist, and we have answers to why: to be there with and for the ones we love. To contribute, to celebrate, to love, and to grieve. To work, to play, to participate and to enjoy this enormous, beautiful home that is the earth.

To be you and to feel your imprint on the world. That you matter to others, that you can make things happen. These are all your answers, and they come from your deepest, feeling self. Your answers are there, inside you.

The Solution

You can reclaim your emotions. It is never too late. You can break through the wall that blocks them, and learn all the skills to use them. When you feel more, you will live more.

It’s amazing how once you know what you’re looking for, you are able to see that it’s been there all along.

And in possession of all that is your deepest, truest self you are, at last, fully living.

To learn about Childhood Emotional Neglect and how to reach, accept, and use your emotions to feel your purpose and enrich your life, see and the book, Running on Empty.

Photo by marnanel

Your Search For Meaning and Purpose: A Psychologist’s Best Answer

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking work in defining, describing, and calling attention to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She writes, speaks, and trains therapists on the topic, and is the bestselling author of two books, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. She also created and runs the Fuel Up For Life Online CEN Recovery Program. Since CEN can be difficult to see and remember, Dr. Webb created the CEN Questionnaire and other free resources to help you figure out if you have it. Take the CEN Questionnaire and learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it at her website

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APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2017). Your Search For Meaning and Purpose: A Psychologist’s Best Answer. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jan 2017
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