Monday, June 1, 2009
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Harold Whitman
Okay, I am not advocating selfishness by bringing you the above quote. I am advocating interest. In what makes you tick. And you can always use that to give back to the world.
We all want to have passion at least somewhere in our lives. Some are afraid of it, and go to great lengths to avoid it. Some are afraid to live without it, and go to great lengths to create it. And, not to be confused with hunger, desire or drama, passion or lack of it really is what brings many people through the therapy door.
Some of us want it in our friendships, some want it in our careers, and most of us want it in the bedroom. We are frustrated, despondent, depressed even, when we feel that we have gone too long without it. But we don't often know how to create it. And we don't know how to make it jive with serenity and contentment, with order and routine and acceptance of the normal ebb and flow of relationships and jobs.
I see lots of attempts to ignore passion, and lots of attempts to find it. In the eating disorder community, we don't talk about passion nearly enough. And I see many folks confusing passion with compulsion and competition. Or letting passion turn into compulsion or competition.
And its often about squelching hungers. Sometimes there is a deep seated fear that knowing what you truly hunger for will shake up your world. Or someone else's. Or that you will not be able to have what it is you really want, or what really lights you up. Or that you will in fact be consumed by. The refusal to know your passions, the fear, is a common experience of many who suffer from eating disorders, as well anxiety and depression.
In the therapy room, passions of all kinds are welcome as a topic of discussion. They can be ushered out into the light and studied. There is no need, often times, no mandate, to act on them, but just to know them, to talk about them, to not squelch them back down inside - out of fear. Good decisions can be made when one is passionate. Passion does not have to be impulsive or clumsy, or hurtful or forceful. It can be life giving and useful. Quiet and steady.
The point is this: lots of energy often goes into to avoiding knowing ourselves. We may even fear we are dangerous in some way. But I think the danger is in not talking about passion. I think that depression and anxiety and eating disorders are all well treated when we put passion into the picture and get to know where it lives in us and for what or whom. Our relationships usually benefit as well. For all the attention we give to unpacking panic and depression, communication difficulties and addiction, we should not forget to weave passion into discussion and learn what it means to us, what ideas, fears, images, memories or feelings the word itself brings up. And then we can use it to move forward toward whatever it is we are seeking. We can use it to have more what we want and be more content with what we have.