Blocks to Passion — we are brought up to make finding and living our passion difficult. Here are 5 ways this happens, and some alternatives
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It seems funny to me that people argue against discovering and living their passion. Let’s look at a couple of distractions, and some ways to find your way through.
I Don’t Know
We all have a pull — a desire — for things like passion and vocation to make sense.
Here’s a hint: they don’t.
I like to say, you can’t feel a thought, and you can’t think a feeling.
Despite being whole beings, we are also “sided.” As in a coin — there’s no such thing as a one sided coin.
We in the West are conditioned to look to our thoughts, our explanations, and belatedly (or not at all) to consider our feelings — our needs — our desires.
Thus, for most people — thinking is a given, and feeling needs work. To discover our passion is to learn to trust our feelings, body senses, intuition, and “heart.”
The vast, vast majority of humanity never got guidance in dealing with one’s passion. Most of us were trained to follow tribal rules and directions. passion be damned.
I’m the first in my family to get a BA, followed by a couple of Masters degrees. My parents prized intelligence, and encouraged me to go to Elmhurst U.
That being said, my mom had plans for me and my little brain — she expected me to go from Elmhurst to Seminary, and then to become a Minister. I thought so, too. Until I lost interest. I “disappointed her” by first working at a bank, and then opening a photography studio.
While I ultimately did become a Minister, I tired of the Church and the games, and opened a counselling practice.
Mom also never quite “got” the whole counsellor thing.
Anyway, many people carry on family traditions, becoming lawyers, doctors, academics, etc. Now, this is not to say this is “wrong.” The only thing is, did you choose your path, or did you just go along for the ride?
When I ask people about their passion and their vocation, most tell me they have no clue.
I always respond, “If you pretended that you did know, what would it be?”
99% can tell me.
What this is all about is that, as soon as we’re pretend that we are just speculating, (and of course, if I’m imagining, no one is going to judge me, or try to stop me…) out pops what’s important to us — what we’re passionate about.
Another way passion shows itself is by what we choose to give single-minded focus to.
Darbella is like this. She was an excellent teacher because of her focus on being there for her kids. Since she retired, she’s quite focussed on honing her photography / editing skills.
I had a friend who followed the above pattern. When I asked, she didn’t know, big sigh, etc. I asked the speculation question, and she came up with a great project — to go to Japan (where she’d lived) and to start a web project to replace photos people lost in the 2011 Tsunami.
Guess what? She decided to go, and it changed her life.
Take Away: As yourself the “speculation” question.
When your mind rebels and tells you you’re being silly, just breathe, and see what’s there. Something will occur to you — something with a strong pull in your body. Your heart. Listen, and then ask yourself: “What would be one step toward accomplishing this?”
I’m Being Blocked by.… “them!”
This is the “They are conspiring against me” position.
And you know what? Sometimes, they are!
We once knew a woman I called “the almost-painter.” When she was a kid, her parents hated that she wanted to be an artist they , so controlled her physically, by banning art supplies. They said, “We support the arts; we are not artists!” As an adult, she took over for them, and blocked herself.
Adults can’t be controlled (short of physical violence) by others. We can do it to ourselves, by speaking in the voice of our parents and tribes — thus stopping ourselves while blaming them.
Standing on our own two feet requires strength and persistence. We are fighting against stories that were implanted when we were especially susceptible to swallowing stuff whole.
The other thing is this: most other people don’t actually “have our best interest at heart.” Others want us to be “sort of” happy or content, but likely sub-consciously don’t want us to be happier then they are. Or more successful.
Doing so raises a big question for them: And what am I doing with MY life?
Many are so committed to their world-view that they are willing to go to extremes to try to keep you doing what they are doing — to make you behave, conform. And when you wander from their norm, they accuse you of being “Out of (their) control.”
Growing up is this: You question yourself, govern yourself, and walk your path. You choose to walk with those who walk beside you, and leave behind the critics.
Hard? It can be, but doesn’t have to be.
Take away: Ask yourself: whose opinion do I value more than my own? Let go of that! How? Turn your attention, relentlessly, to who you are and what you want to accomplish with your life.
Discover the few folk around you who are on your side — who encourage you to experiment, to play, to do new things. Listen to their comments, and go inside and see how it “resonates.”
Focus on you, and what pulls you. Ground yourself, breathe into your belly, and let the energy move. You’ll see a next step. Take it.
In other words, fighting the people who are trying to hold you back is silly. You don’t need to be “right” You need to act in accordance with your heart and your passion.
What If I get it Wrong?
Most of us live in countries where anything is possible, so I’m not sure what following our passion costs us besides time (and money.) None of us are locked into anything.
One of my favourite clients from years ago, a dental hygienist, decided in her 40s that she wanted to be a dentist. She needed to go back to High School to get some science and math credits. She had herself convinced that she was dumb.
I encouraged her to go to HS, study, and see what happened. She did.
She ground her way through the HS courses, and got into University. Got a BA. Got a Masters. Discovered that she was pretty much an ‘A’ student. After one rejection, got into Dental College. She graduated in her mid 50s, and is now a practicing dentist and teacher.
She had all the tools in place to stop herself. And she didn’t.
This fear of being / doing it “wrong” also happens when the time comes to end relationships. “What if the next one is worse?”
Well, did you learn anything from the former relationship? Can you imagine being more selective and mature (you ARE older…) now than then?
All the negative talk is normal. We’ve discussed this!
When I paint, for example, the first few days, the voice in my head screams that “this time,” I won’t be able to get it “right.” I look at what I’m doing, and I agree. What’s in front of me sucks.
I keep painting.
And then, it doesn’t suck. The underpainting is just the structure of what happens next. So long as I keep painting, things sort themselves out. My creativity and hand knows what to do, so long as I don’t let my critic stop me.
Take away: there is no “wrong” choice. There’s always something to learn, and when the learning stops, when the passion stops, it’s time to take another path.
Look at how you are scaring yourself, stopping yourself, from accomplishing something with your passion. As with my friend, “go to High School” anyway. Find that first step, start, walk, paint, sing, do. Get the ticket for the flight to Japan!
Here’s What I Don’t Want
Our little egos are clever. They know that if they can keep us “listing” — stuck in our heads concocting list of what we don’t want, focussed on what could go wrong, we’ll stay stuck, AND think we are making progress!
Some people have hundreds of reasons for not doing something; hundreds of things they don’t want.
A client once said, “I don’t want my daughter to turn out like me!”
I replied, “OK, so I guess it would be all right for her to be a crack whore on Yonge Street?”
She was horrified. I said, “Well, she wouldn’t be like you… now maybe you might tell me what you do want for her, not what you don’t.”
This is not a prescription for ignoring risk. It’s a prescription for acting positively while being aware.
Take away: listen to how you stop yourself. Are you creating endless lists? Blocking yourself over “What will people think?” Delaying acting until you can be 100% sure you’ll “get an ‘A’?”
No, really. Tell yourself, repeatedly, “Stop!” Then, “What can I do, right now, to get one step further down the path I have chosen?
Yeah, well. Change is scary. Period. Discovering something new requires “leaving port.”
Dar and I learned to kayak on the Ottawa River. We learned on the same set of rapids (including a couple that are class 5) the river rafts run. Scary water.
We spent 3 days learning paddle strokes, trying to learn the Eskimo Roll, (nope…) and learning to “wet exit” an overturned boat (yep…). And then, we got in the boats, and went where our instructor pointed.
We both dumped, once ( I paddled down a waterfall, and crashed into a river raft. It won.) and we both got down the river. I didn’t ever want to be in class 5 rapids again, and haven’t. Whitewater, yes, and have.
Was I scared, running those Class 5s? Nope. I was terrified! I, however, trusted our teacher to be there if I got into a mess, and I trusted my learnings and my balance. The fear was painful, and the satisfaction extreme.
Being scared is a way of being alive. We forget how scary learning to walk down stairs was. How scary learning to ride a bike was. How scary learning to swim was. We forget because the pleasure outweighed the fear.
But really, we got through it by getting through it… not by sitting there, scared and immobile, but by acting in spite of.
Take away: really, the main take away for this and all the points is: life hurts. Living a full, rich, and deep life involves challenges, terror, confusion, and that flies in the face of our “feel good society.”
We move, really move, only by hopping from rung to rung, pain to pain, moment to moment. We do this by staying in the feeling, in the moment, and opening ourselves to all of it.
We discover that if we do, the difficulty becomes simplicity, and then we open to the next thing, and the next pain. We just “be scared,” and take another step.
You can stay stuck, and feel the pain of stuckness. Or, you can choose to take a step into uncertainty, and breathe, and open, and truly see.