5 Blocks to Passion — we are set up to make finding and living our passion difficult. Here are 5 ways this happens, and some alternatives
In This Moment
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It seems funny to me that people argue against their passion. Today, we’ll look at a couple of distractions, and some ways to find your way through.
I Don’t Know
As I wrote last week, in Passion, Ego, and Charge there’s a pull (we desperately want) 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, (being “one,”) we’re also “sided.” As in a coin. There’s no such thing as a one sided coin.
This means, for most people — thinking is a given, and feeling needs work. This is all about learning to trust feelings, body senses, intuition, and “heart.”
The vast, vast majority of humanity never got guidance in passion. Most of us were trained to follow the generational rules. I’m the first in my family, for example, to get a BA, followed by a couple of Masters degrees. My parents prized intelligence, and encouraged me to go to Elmhurst College.
That being said, my mom expected me to carry on and become a Minister (the pattern in the United Church of Christ in the US is the 3 Es — Elmhurst, Eden, Eternity.) She was quite confused when I first worked at a bank, then opened a photography studio.
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 about passion and vocation, most clients 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, I’m imagining, no one is going to judge me, or try to stop me…) out pops what’s important.
Another way passion shows 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 sometimes says she doesn’t know what’s next for her, but for several years her single-minded focus has been on upgrading her Qi Gong skills.
Take Away: As yourself the “speculation” question.
I have a wonderful client that 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 last year’s Tsunami.
Guess what? She’s in Japan right now, setting this up.
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
We saw a bit of this language a few weeks back, in the article, True Liberation.
This is the “They are conspiring against me” position.
And you know what? Sometimes, they are!
Last week, I mentioned my friend the painter. When she was a kid, her parents controlled her physically, by banning art supplies. As an adult, she took over for them, and blocked herself.
Adults can’t actually be controlled (short of physical violence.) We do it to ourselves, by speaking in the voice of our parents and tribes.
Standing on our 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.
Growing up is this: Question yourself, govern yourself, and walk your path. 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 in past years, 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. Decided she was pretty much an ’ student. After one rejection, got into Dental College. Ought to graduate in her mid 50s.
She had all the tools in place to stop herself. And she didn’t. (I imagine she still reads this blog. Drop me a line, you!)
This “wrong” fear 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 paint. 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 what we don’t want, focussed on what could go wrong, we’ll stay stuck, AND think we are making progress!
Some people literally have hundreds of reasons for not doing something, for what 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, that’s not 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.
Was I scared? Nope. Terrified! I, however, trusted our teacher to be there if I got into a mess, and I trusted my learnings and balance. The fear was painful, and the satisfaction extreme.
Being scared is a part of being alive. We forget how scary learning to walk down stairs was. How learning to ride a bike was. How 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.
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.
Two paths. One, where you are is where you stay. The other, well, is open for anything.