I remember playing a game as a child where I’d be blindfolded and have to search for a hidden object. As I’d clumsily stumble across furniture to peels of laughter from my friends, the only clues I’d get would be screams of “cold, cold, cold” as I moved away from the object, or “hot, hot, hot” as I inched closer to my prized goal.

I’ve realised to my part amusement and part consternation that I have continued to play this game as an adult, except at the larger scale of life. This time, the search is not for an object, but for seeking answers to the big questions “What is my life’s purpose? How can I unfold my full potential?” I’m convinced that the answers are hidden from me in plain sight because I’ve been wearing thick blindfolds; blindfolds created by trying to fulfil societal expectations, created by beliefs about lack (lack of money, time, support…), and created by a mind that is hapless in the face of uncertainty, as it is trained to make detailed action-based plans and execute them in a predictable fashion. After having spent a great deal of time running around in futile circles with these blindfolds on, I have come to recognise that life is intrinsically compassionate and kind. It keeps whispering “cold, cold, cold” as I drift astray and “hot, hot, hot” as I move closer to the answers I seek.

So in what ways does life play the hot-cold game with me?

Through my body and mind
I remember my days as an assistant professor at a prestigious University in Germany, where my societal mask enthusiastically exclaimed “You’re doing great!” And yet, I felt a deep restlessness inside me, and my body and mind showed signs of chronically being out of tune, with nagging symptoms that refused to go away. At some point, I realised that this wasn’t my body “simply not cooperating”; it was life compassionately screaming “cold, cold, cold”. As I left my academic career and became a freelance coach practicing in Germany, many of the symptoms disappeared, and yet some of them persisted. I’ve noticed that my body tends to thrive when I spend time in India- in the midst of nature in the Himalayas, among tribal children in villages, and in Vipassana meditation centres. I’m taking this as life saying “hot, hot, hot” and by spending more time in these places, I’ll be observing what unfolds.

Through obstacles and synchronicities
Whenever I come up with carefully constructed plans, which I know deep inside to be driven by fear- fear of not generating enough income, of not being successful in the eyes of others, etc., life with its unfailing kindness, says “cold, cold, cold” by throwing all kinds of obstacles in my face. Nothing, absolutely nothing, goes according to my plan! And then there is the opposite – when I trust my intuition and experience flow, when I create from a place of love and authenticity, the most outstanding synchronicities occur. The people who can support me, the money and resources I need, and all the information I could use show up magically from the most unexpected places. This is when I know life is whispering “hot, hot, hot”, encouraging me to trust myself and continue in spite of my mind grappling with vast uncertainties.

Through peeling off masks
As I have started following the hot-cold signals and moved on with my authentic journey, I have noticed that my ego invariably has to let go of things very dear to it, and it usually goes down with a HUGE painful fight! Letting go of being able to tell a co-passenger on the airplane “I am a cave biologist and assistant professor” with pretend modesty, to having to hesitantly murmur “Ummm…I am a life coach. You don’t know what that is? Oh, let me try to explain…” is one example. Or letting go of the beloved apartment in Germany with all its familiar and favourite furniture, to living on the move in India, with my parent’s apartment in Kolkata being my official address, being another. This path has peeled away so many of my masks; my mask of “accomplished scientist”, of “independent and self-reliant woman”, of “a person who knows what she is doing”… is this another twisted way of life saying “hot, hot, hot?” I believe so, as it only asks me to let go of what I don’t truly need, until I shed layers of my blindfold and start seeing, for the first time, with open eyes.

Are you too playing the hot-cold game of life? What signs are you noticing as you move on your path? I’d love to hear from you about it in the comments below.