Can a health problem be a guide to your purpose?

Doctor experiencing tension headache

Are you feeling dragged down by a health problem, whether it’s large and threatening or small and persistent?  I invite you to consider whether your health problem could be a guide to your life purpose, and thus a gateway to healing.

I know from hard experience that ill health can be deeply discouraging.  But I’ve also learned that it can point us toward the life path we’re really supposed to be on.  For me and so many others, our health problems call us to notice where our lives are out of balance, where our hearts feel malnourished, and whether we feel a passionate calling to serve a purpose that might seem surprising yet lead us to delight.  As I struggled for years with immune and autoimmune challenges, I discovered gradually that the more I honored my desire to connect with nature and teach others about linkages between our own wellness and the Earth’s wellness, the more my mind, body, and spirit came into alignment, and the more my heath improved.  My work and lifestyle have shifted in many ways and my health is better than it’s ever been.  I know it’s possible to say ‘yes’ to discerning how you can learn from an illness, use it for the good, and let it boost you forward into your highest and best contribution to the world.

Whatever your purpose is, it matters to your health.  If your purpose is unfulfilled your body will tell you about it.  To heal, you need to look beyond medicating the bodily messenger or being frustrated with the messenger and instead listen deeply to its wisdom.  An unfulfilled altruistic purpose may be stifled underneath the surface of your mind-body-spirit system in such a way that your body tries to capture your attention via symptoms of illness.  An unfulfilled purpose may disrupt mind-body-spirit energetic integration, thus making you much more vulnerable to the other factors that can influence the development of illness (genetics, environment, diet, stress, etc.)  In indigenous cultures around the world, this phenomenon is called shaman sickness.  Those with shaman sickness have a powerful life purpose, typically involving healing or leading of some kind, that tends to cause health problems if it’s ignored.

By paying attention to both indigenous wisdom and modern insights, we’re learning that the threat of illness can be an invitation to heal at a deep level: to heal yourself, re-balance your life, and contribute to healing life on our planet.  We live in a time when people and the Earth have many needs.  Thought leaders worldwide agree that many of us alive today have the purpose of contributing to the Great Work (a.k.a. Great Turning or Great Transition) of re-balancing the human relationship to the Earth, restoring human health, and continuing to heal relationships within the human species.  In this era of crisis on the Earth, many of us are experiencing health problems related to stress, a fast life pace, our impoverished diets, and environmental toxicity.  Our health problems are reminders that life on our planet needs repair.

Your purpose may be simply to lovingly nurture your own body, stand up in moderate ways for the good you believe in, or care for your family or a garden.  It may be to create art to inspire others, to teach children, to become a health coach, to rescue animals, or to advocate for the restoration of your local waterway or forest.  The options are many.  Perhaps you have a larger calling as a leader.  What is important is to listen to the internal voice that may be begging you to honor or discover your purpose, and may be whispering to you that your health will be so much better when you do.

For more support with exploring how your wellness and purpose are linked, you can receive a free copy of “8 Ways To Know Whether Your Illness Is Pointing to Your Purpose, & What To Do Next,” by visiting

Remember, if you have a persistent health problem and you feel called to make some type of helpful contribution to the world, those are not separate threads in your life, but threads that are asking to be interwoven.  Your purpose is your unique way of being part of the life system here on Earth.  Aligning with it also may be a key to your health.


charaChara Armon, Ph.D. teaches about the connections between wellness and life purpose to help you discover your pathways toward health and service.  As a teacher, mentor, and scholar, she ignites attention to our opportunity to heal human and Earth health as the same endeavor, for mutual flourishing.  Find her at,, and on Owning Pink.

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