From confronting your fears to finding your purpose
Inspired & Blessed

From confronting your fears to finding your purpose

Sep 20, 2023, 1:55 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo


Verily, ‘tis not my first time to be acquainted with such enigmatic idea as “life purpose”, nor is this my first bid at writing about finding purpose – and nay would I say my present life is devoid of a sense of purpose.

From a personal perspective, purpose in life is simply the raison d’etre or our life’s reason for being. It’s the REASON WE WAKE UP AND SOMETHING WE LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY MORNING (or so called, ikigai in Japanese). How could we imagine ourselves waking up in the morning devoid of any meaning or reason to live?

For many authors, purpose is all about harnessing what you love and can do toward contributing to the greater good in a way that matters to you. It is but answering the four critical questions: 1) What you love to do (passion); 2) What you are good at (gifts); 3) What the world needs (mission/vocation), and 4) What the world is willing to pay you for (profession/occupation).

All along, I’ve come to know not a few ways of how to find purpose in life. For most, as suggested in our preceding thought, is through the prism of our individual gifts, God-given or innate, which can be used to serve others.

In particular, according to psychologist Jill Sutie, in her article published in the Greater Good magazine, there are “Seven Ways to Find Your Purpose in Life,” namely: 1) Identify the things you care about; 2) Reflect on what matters most to you; 3) Recognize your strength and talents; 4) Try volunteering; 5) Imagine your best possible self; 6) Cultivate positive emotions like gratitude and awe, and 7) Look to the people you admire.

But, curiously so, is it possible to find or draw our purpose from our fears?

I got lately struck with this thought of fear as a progenitor of purpose when I came across George Jergian’s article, “68-year-old who unretired: I went on a 30-day silent retreat – what I learned about how to live a happy, regret-free life,” posted on, where he enumerates four lessons he learned from his 30-day retreat.

In his third lesson, “To find purpose, follow your passion,” Jerjian recounts how on the third week of his retreat he broke down weeping and thinking about all the people he had hurt in life. But on the last day, Jerjian wrote, “The tears came from a place of joy and love. I realized that my true fear was hurting others, and that my passion was helping people.”

Oh, this really sent me whimpering in thought trying to think back about my past if my passion (or purpose) about writing ever emanated from my deep fears.

Way back at 43, after some 15 cumulative years of college teaching (including a stint as Dean of Student Affairs), I found myself at an excruciating crossroad between leaving my teaching job and shifting to writing as my new occupation. Not that I only learned the writing trade at 43. Even erstwhile in my old seminary days, I used to be a staff of our seminary organ – but ‘twas just kind of chalking up a rookie writing skill or so.

Back then at 43, already with four growing up sons and a non-working wife, and being BURNED OUT in my teaching job (as if I was just “parroting” about the lessons, plus the toxic routine of checking papers and computing grades) and likewise plagued with some campus work politics, I was on the brink of quitting teaching and switching to writing.

I was beset then with the following fears: being a lifeless robot or not finding any meaning or significance in my job; no guaranteed means of income or how will I and my family survive; feeling insufficient in my writing skill compared to those who were already in the industry; what if my efforts will come to naught or my writings are not appreciated, and all sorts of what-nots. Vis-a-vis these fears, there was only one driving motivation: I love to write and I like to help other people through my writing.

Reckoning so, I realized then that my deepest dread was HAVING NO MEANING OR SIGNIFICANCE IN WHAT I DO, and my purpose is TO HELP PEOPLE FIND A SENSE OF SIGNIFICANCE OR MEANING IN THEIR LIFE (and I found it through my passion, profession, or vocation of writing).

Thus, now 18 years hence, I’ve noticed how far and long I have come – from mere feature writing for a Catholic news magazine, to speech writing for different government and corporate leaders, editing organizational newsletters, editing book publications, to now writing for this column, and even writing and publishing my book (now being marketed by the country’s biggest bookstore chain).

I’d like to reckon so: Had I not confronted and conquered my fears, I wouldn’t have come far to finding my purpose now.

In corollary, thus, let me share the following “5 STEPS ON HOW TO USE FEAR TO FIND YOUR PURPOSE” from Lisa Sierra (

  1. View fear as your ally, not enemy.
  2. Name your fears and ask them who’s daddy.
  3. List down ALL your fears in relation to your current situation versus going for the ideal situation.
  4. Strike out your fears which are not part of your control and write down what can be done for the remaining ones.
  5. Decide which of your fears you can and cannot live with.

Peace ye! Fear not, find yourself first – then find your purpose. There’s no denying, at the end of your fear is the person you ever wanted to be or the ideal life you ever dreamed of.

#InspiredAndBlessed #BobAcebedo #FromConfrontingYourFearsToFindingYourPurpose #OpinYonColumn #OpinYon

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