What to Do When Your Heart Tugs You in Two Directions

It's my guess that other people experience the same tugs in their heart, pulling them in two directions, like I feel all the time.

Let’s explore this together, because I believe this bi-directional tugging is just a fact of human existence, but I’d be interested to hear if you agree with that, and if you experience it the same way I describe below.

The feeling is that the tugs are coming from my needs as a human being.

One direction is tugging – loud and clear – toward my own protection.

This means getting my emotional and physical needs met.

  • Maslow called these our “basic needs,” and they include food, shelter, and survival at the foundation of everything.
  • A little higher up, these basic needs also include health, receiving acceptance and love from other people, and developing our self-esteem.

The other tug, the one pulling me away from survival-based needs, is a little softer at times.

(Sometimes it’s like the tugging is being done by a wrecking ball). This is the heart-tug that wants to meet what Maslow calls my “growth needs.”

Growth needs are things like experiencing transformation, living true to my purpose, giving back to society somehow, etc.

I’ve chosen a life of service. I know that.

I know that my purpose is to help people as they move out of living a life based on survival needs, into the transformation of getting their growth needs met, because then they’ll live their purpose and give back to society and the planet (and without that, there won’t be a planet).

So what fascinates me is that, even though I’ve been living in this world of transformation for over a decade and spending my daily life acting on my purpose of service to society, my physical and emotional and ego-based needs still tug at me all the time – usually tugging on me to procrastinate - something we've explored in this procrastination coaching video.

I’m writing about this for 3 reasons:

1. Curiosity.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m curious to hear from you about whether this is your experience of being human as well (that is, how do you balance your basic physical and emotional needs against your desire to live a life of purpose).

2. Freedom.

  • If you’re someone who is struggling financially (basic financial needs).
  • Or who is having a tough time in their primary relationship right now (basic emotional needs).
  • Or who is having a health challenge (basic physical needs)...

... then this is a reminder that it’s OK to focus on those basic needs first before launching into the spiritual, purpose-based needs. We are designed to meet the survival needs first for a reason.

3. Empowerment.

This way of looking at needs, and how they play a role in procrastination, gives me a lot of hope, and a lot of power.

Let’s look at #3 further: think about the things you do when you procrastinate. Which needs do they serve... the needs of your ego, or the needs of your spirit to grow and serve and transform?

If you’re like me, and your procrastination always serves your ego, then it becomes easier to accept that dogged old resistance / procrastination feeling without getting frustrated at it. You’re just human, there’s just some basic need tugging to get met, and you can choose to meet it or you can get back to your higher purpose.

  • For me, this means I’m free from beating myself up about procrastination urges.
  • It also means that I now have power over that fearful voice of resistance inside saying, “But I don’t want to grow and transform and be of service right now!

That voice is my ego, and it is afraid that my basic emotional and survival needs are going to get left behind... which makes me smile, since that’s impossible.

“How is that impossible,” you might ask?

It’s impossible because, until our basic survival needs are met, we don’t even start to ask the questions about the meaning of life, and our call to purpose. Those transformational questions aren’t available without a foundation of basic needs in place to support them.

So if you’re taking the time to ask those big questions about what your life purpose is, and you’re aching to take action on your purpose, that means you can trust your survival needs are stable enough to take action... which means any resistance is just that old, silly ego getting scared for no reason.

Go live your purpose!