Find Your North Star

Have you have ever felt adrift in life? Are you uncertain of a decision or direction? 

People often walk through my office door seeking clarity to determine a course of action or to gain more control in their lives.  Psychotherapy can be one way to gain insight to navigate through life’s adversities, improve overall well-being and do so with meaningful direction. Although providing support for difficult times and decision making is one thing, it is far more productive to teach people a method to find a way forward.

How do you steer through life?  A useful metaphor to inspire direction is the idea of following a “North Star.” If one is lost, finding the North Star orients like a beacon or navigation device to choose an appropriate direction.  The North Star can be an anchor of certainty.  The following provides an outline to create and use this tool to ground and guide.

A North Star can help to disengage from the superfluous noise that can distract.  External influences and the critical inner voice tell us what we ‘ought’ to do and can cause confusion.  Having an inner compass enables us to make choices that align with our truth and innate wisdom.  It also helps to reduce self-imposed turmoil to make decisions based on our veracity.

Like its celestial relative, a personal North Star keeps us focused and on the path toward a purpose or passion.   There is usually more than one way to get to a destination, and we have choices along the way.  However, defining where we want to go (i.e. that meaningful intention) is key. 

In order to chart the course, it is necessary to “find” a North Star.  This can be done by creating a phrase that guides, motivates and is productive and attainable.  When constructing a North Star, consider several components. 

It should include a sense of essential self, intuition and hope:  the unique combination of who we are and who we are inherently becoming.  A North Star is more than an affirmation or a mission statement:  it is a psychological and spiritual beckoning that supports, encourages and inspires. 

Couples can create a North Star for the relationship.  Whether to maintain focus on a common goal, to navigate through a rough patch or to bolster their commitment to each other, a North Star benefits couples by creating mutual meaning and purpose.

A North Star changes to serve a specific purpose.  A North Star reminded me “I have the ability to access the resources to handle what is around the corner” during a recent challenge.  This encouraged resilience by creating direction and a sense of calm given uncertainty.  When I began to worry, I trained my brain to stop and recite my North Star.  This affirmed what I knew to be true and moved me forward from fear and anxiety.

We all have tools to manage challenges, choices about how to navigate adversity and the ability to define our purpose and passion.  By using a North Star, the path can become clearer and obstacles can become opportunities to strengthen your resolve to flourish.