A friend told me this week that the passions she pursued for much of her life – in art and writing – disappeared from her life almost over night. She loved drawing and painting and writing fiction for many years, from childhood through young adulthood, but one day she just stopped doing them. And she’s still not doing them now, even though 10 years have passed.
Why did she stop drawing and writing and doing other things she loved, things she felt a passion to pursue?
Because she had a baby. And then another one. And then one more.
Her passion disappeared because she became a mom, and other priorities took over her life. And that little accusatory voice starting speaking to her, the one that says, “Everything you do has to be for the children. Or your husband. Anything you do for yourself is selfish.”
Ouch. Do you know that voice? I sure do.
I hate that this friend lost her passion and hasn’t yet found it again. And I know that she’s not alone. Almost every woman I know, especially those who are wives and moms, could probably tell a similar story.
Today we’re going to talk about why passion disappears – why women lose touch with their passions or stop living a passionate life. Last week we talked about the fact that you have permission to pursue a passionate life, and next week we’re going to talk about ways to start getting back in touch with your passions.
But today, let’s talk about three common reasons why women stop living with passion:
1. Life gets in the way. This is what happened to my friend who stopped pursuing her art and writing. For her, “life” meant having children and taking on the responsibilities of motherhood. For another woman it may mean working a job that sucks up all of her time and energy. For another it may mean taking on care for aging parents and adding that responsibility to an already-busy life. And for another it may mean dealing with financial stresses every day – too little money and too many needs.
My friend J, author of Hot, Holy and Humorous, described it this way – “I feel like I have passion…but other things get in the way of me expressing it. It’s like Passion + Distraction = Stagnation.”
I love that. She knows what her passion is, but life is getting in the way of her pursuing it.
Is life getting in the way of you pursuing one of your passions or working on adding more passion to your life? (I’m almost certain the answer is “Yes.”) If it is, take some time this week to figure out which parts of your life are most getting in the way and start to think about how you can make changes.
Of course, some things won’t change, at least not right away. If you have 4 children under the age of 6 or you’re working a stressful job or your mother is in the hospital, you’re facing a lot of demands and stresses that you’ll probably have to live with for a while.
But, small changes are always possible, and small changes that will free up a little bit or your time and energy for passion are well worth the effort you put into making them. (We’ll talk more about how to dothis, starting next week.)
2. Self-doubt takes over. So many women struggle with self-doubt, even when it makes absolutely no sense. I know smart, talented, fabulous women who are almost paralyzed with self-doubt, with the voice inside them that says, “What do you think you’re doing?” “You can’t do that.” “It will never work out.” “You’ll look stupid.” “What will people think?”
I know that voice very well, and you probably do too. It’s the voice that says, when I think about my idea for writing a book, “Girl, you have lost your mind! No one wants to read a book you wrote!”
And when I want to work on pursuing more sexual energy and physical passion in my body, it’s the voice that says, “Aren’t you a little old for that? And I thought you were going to lose some weight.”
For the woman who wants to work on sex in her marriage, after many years of neglecting it, it’s the voice said, “It’s too late. Your marriage is toast. Don’t even bother trying.”
And for the woman who has a passion for helping moms who are struggling with their career, family, and life balance, and wants to start a podcast that would speak to them, it’s the voice that said, “A podcast? You must be kidding! Who’s going to listen to that?”
Every woman experiences the voice of self-doubt. The question is, “Is that voice stopping you from pursuing a specific passion or striving to live a more passionate life?” If it is, you need to recognize it, call it out, and work on silencing it. (Starting next week, we’ll talk about ways to overcome this barrier and others.)
3. Something or someone withholds permission. If you feel like you have no idea what your passion is or how you could start living a more passionate life, it’s possible that something or someone may have withheld or stolen your permission.
So, for example, when someone asks you “What do you really love? What are you passionate about?” – and you have no idea how to answer. Or when you ask yourself, “What would it look like for me to live a more passionate life?” – and you really don’t have a clue.
In those situations, it’s possible that you’ve never (or it’s been a very long time) had a chance to explore your passions or to learn what it would feel like to live a passionate life.
The “something” or “someone” who withheld permission could be your family, church, or culture. It could have been a teacher or a coach. Or a friend. It could be anyone or anything that sent a negative message about passion, like “That isn’t for girls/women like you,” “That’s selfish,” “People like us don’t do that,” or “That’s not your role. It’s a waste of your time.”
If you can’t identify at least one passion in your life, or have no idea how you’d start living a more passionate life, take some time to think about permission to be passionate, and whether someone or something has taken it away from you or made you feel guilty about having it.
Next week, we’ll start talking about practical ways to ignite or reignite passion in our lives.
This summer, we’re taking time to talk about and pursue passion in our lives. And I’d love for you to join us. You can leave a comment or email me at [email protected], and I promise to get back to you. And take advantage of an opportunity to talk about it with other women by joining The Passion Project Facebook group! This is a closed group just for friends of CalmHealthySexy – wives and moms who are looking for encouragement and practical tips for adding more passion to their lives.
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