Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Question from a Reader: What do I do when I don't have a passion for anything?

I have a couple of friends who have asked me this question over the years. This is a hard one. Losing (or never finding to begin with) our passion often means we've lost our compass. Our internal compass that points the way to what is right and true for us.

Sometimes, we feel flat. Passionless, lost. Often times, we reach into the past, trying to recreate something that made us feel like we had promise. Sometimes, when we do that, we start living "in the glory days". All of our life in the present is focused on the fact that it was once good in the past and it will never be as good as it was.

Now, we are wishing. And wishing that something is other than it is is suffering.

This is also a trap for your will and your spirit. Looking up from the bottom of the well when things are not feeling so good is hard to do. Trusting that there is something out there for you, but you don't know what it is yet is VERY hard to do.

Our minds have an innate fear of the unknown. And if we find ourselves in a place where things are passionless, but familiar, we will tend to hang on to that feeling. Familiar, even when its unhealthy, feels safe.

The challenge here is to find your support group. Reaching out for help so you can have faith in yourself and in the future you will create is also hard. It means telling your closest friends, maybe only one or two of them, that you want to try something that is frightening to you. Maybe the thing you want to try is just admitting that you are unhappy. That can feel as scary as jumping off a cliff.

The thing that is beautiful is that there IS a path for you. That first step to health, the first step away from the flat, emotionless place is the hardest. Just in emailing me this question, my friend has taken that scary step.

Imagine you are standing on a grassy hill. There is a river below you. Across the river is your safe haven. A home, a place where people understand you, a place where a teacher will help you find your way. To get there, you have to cross a bridge. The bridge is made of glass. It looks like it is not there. The first step onto the bridge is going to be terrifying. Will it hold you? Can you stand on it? Are you crazy to even try? Once you take that step and you feel your feet underneath you, listen for the voices that are encouraging you on. Strain to hear them over everything in your mind that is telling you to turn back, this is unfamiliar and frightening.

Keep your gaze focused on what will really help you change your life, become who you want to become, healthier, happier, more YOU, more sure of yourself. Look across the bridge, not at your feet. Take another step. Eventually, you will know the bridge is there, and each step gets easier, as though there is sand sprinkled in the glass, and then some steel rods appear a little further on, eventually the bridge is wood and iron, sold and true. And then, you are on solid ground.

The reason we often get stuck in a flat, emotionless, passionless place is because something sad or traumatic has happened along the way. We begin to wish it hadn't happened. We see how things COULD have been, if only we had made a different choice, or not made a certain mistake, or been more patient, or loving, or giving. Or just a better person. We go down this spiral of self judgement that is so loud, and so full of blame, that it is paralyzing.

No wonder you can't find your passion. You've lost your sense of you. Your self worth. Step one: act compassionately toward yourself.

Do not judge.
Minimize harm.
Know that this will pass.

Say this out loud a couple of times. It is sound advice, and sound brain science from the folks who wrote "Wired for Joy" and run the Emotional Brain Training website. (Check it out, it is a powerful tool for change, based on the latest brain science.)

Step two: Find a friend or two that you trust and tell them you are trying to make a change.

Step three: Let go of needing to be in crisis and focus all of your energy on finding little places where you can make a positive choice. Make yourself a cup of tea. Turn off the television. Hug someone. Call your mom. Stand in the sun and feel the warmth on your skin. Hug your kid. Tiny things like this make cracks where joy can leak in.

Step four: Put yourself physically in places that inspire you. If you love the ocean but you are stuck at work, walk outside and stand by a fountain so you can hear the water. Let go of wishing you were at the beach and be appreciative of your love for water. Pay attention to what it is about the water that you love. Find gratitude for your connection.

Over time, you will find your feet, your compass will spin less violently, and you will be able to lift your head and notice, you may feel interested in something. This is the first step toward finding your passion.

I hope this helps!!

Much love,

If YOU have a question please ask it in the comments below! I'll do my best to answer it or find someone who can point you in the right direction. Thanks for reading!

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