It’s Easy to Idealize Passion

fall foliage

Passion looks really good. It’s full of vibrant colors.

It’s Easy to Think, “I Need to Be More Passionate”

But is it true?

Someone recently wrote me saying, “I admire your overflowing energy. Please someday talk about passion since I am having difficulty jump-starting after a loss.”

For Me Passion Is a Double Edged Sword

On the one hand, it is wonderful. When I am passionate, I am focused, I believe in what I’m doing, and I have energy.

But on the other hand, when I am passionate, I may also be lacking in peace, driven, and imbalanced.

Passion is idealized in this world because action is idealized. Doing and accomplishing are held in the highest esteem by society. And passion is the drive to meet this end.

So Passion Has a Good Name

But passion may not actually be what I need right now.

If I want to be passionate when I’m not feeling passionate, I only amplify my suffering. The more passionately I want to be different than what I am, the more passionately I fall into depression.

In fact, maybe depression is nothing more than passion without a means to fulfill that passion. After all, passion is another name for, “I want…” And “I want…” hurts more than anything I know.

Passion May Be the Poison, Not the Cure

I may think that I’m not passionate enough. But the real problem may be that my passion is focused on something I cannot get. Or I may be trying to passionately hold onto something that I can no longer have.

It’s not that I have no passion. It’s that my passion is caught on something I can’t have. And so there’s no room for new passions to emerge for things that I actually can have.

Passion Is Wonderful if I Can Keep Adjusting my Passion to Match Reality

When I was a nature photographer, I was passionate about my work. But I couldn’t make a living at it. That depressed me. I was passionate about something that wasn’t working for me.

It wasn’t until I let go of nature photography that my new passion of facilitating The Work of Byron Katie took hold.

Letting Go Is Easier with Inquiry

What allowed me to let go of nature photography, after investing three years of my time, was doing The Work with Byron Katie. In 2009, I sat with Katie and questioned my thinking about my situation. Just go to YouTube and search for “I’m not living up to my full potential.”

Once I got clear, I dropped nature photography the next week. It was done. My passion was freed up again, and I could move on to being passionate about my next job, and now this job.

Same with when my Mom Died

I did The Work every day on my loss. I questioned every thought that grieved me. And little by little, I found myself letting go of my passionate desire to have her still be alive. It took time to grieve my loss.

But inquiry sped up the process. I had to get really close to my passion and question it. I asked myself, “I want her to be alive, is it true?” And I listened with compassion to my crying mind and heart. And I compared this with who I would be without that thought.

I explored every turnaround, and slowly even found the good in her death. I became a traitor to my suffering, disloyal to a passion that I could never fulfill. It took time to see that this was peace, and that moving on didn’t mean I didn’t love her.

Ironically, it was dispassion, not passion, that opened up the door for my passion to flow again.

Have a great weekend,

β€œThe bottom line is that when the mind is closed, the heart is closed; when the mind is open, the heart is open. So if you want to open your heart, question your thinking.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

  • Andrea says:

    My dictionary English – German translates “passion” as “Leidenschaft”.The
    german word “Leiden” is “suffering” in English. So if I translate it back it is
    “sufferingship” or something like that – —
    The more I do The Work the more I discover the wonderful state of not
    being passionate but simply loving- which feels like kinda being sober,not drunk
    with hysteric emotion and “intensity”.

    Greetings from Germany ! How does spring look like in Vermont now?

    • todd says:

      Wow! That German etymology is very illuminating. Thanks for sharing it. And love your analogy of being sober, not drunk. It really fits.

      Still cold here. We just went ice-skating on the river! πŸ™‚

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