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A Case Against Passion

When I was at my first job as a crisis counselor at Terros, my favorite co-worker led a very interesting life. His name was Jim. He had a master’s degree in social work. He didn’t own a car and didn’t have a TV. I think about him often. He opened my eyes to a new way of thinking.

He shared with me that he gets a new job every year. Staying at one job for any length of time, wasn’t good for him. He said that he gets bored too easily. One year, he milked cows for a living and the next year he was a scuba diver fixing bridges under water. At first, I was shocked. Who does that? I was taught that you find a career, stick with it, put away some retirement money and then retire. End of story.


What I liked about him was that he was carefree and not obsessed with finding that one thing (passion) that would get him hooked for life. The stories he told were captivating. He wasn’t on the consumer hamster wheel. He lived an authentic life free of cultural expectations. When boredom set in, curiosity stepped up for him to go on to the next best thing. He seemed blissfully happy and content.

Who says that we must find a career and stick with it? Americans have a fetish with passion. Well, what’s wrong with living a life well lived. He has a passion for life and life itself with all its magnificent directions.

Some of the most interesting people I know in their 40s, 50s, and 60s don’t have a passion. When we talk about passion, it can make these people uncomfortable that they aren’t living a legacy.

Is passion needed?

When I look at my friends, family members, and colleagues that I look up to in my life, I ask myself, “How many of these people knew their passion when they were young?” How many of them stuck to it, never veered right or left, knew exactly what they wanted to do, built their entire lives around it, and they are still doing that one thing. Basically, none of them.

Not having a passion doesn’t stop any of us from living a gorgeous, kind, complicated, whole heartedness lives. They aren’t tearing themselves apart looking for their passion. They were interested in lots of things.

When I am lost, broken, have a life smackdown, and failed, the very first phone call I make is going to be to someone like Jim. He looks at life like a carnival fun house, trap doors, hidden staircases, getting fired from this, trying new jobs, changing directions, and going somewhere else. Jim’s journey has taught him that you do not judge anyone for the path they are on.

Elizabeth Gilbert

I heard Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, speaking on this issue. She calls those that have a passion and go for it are like Jack Hammers. They jack hammer away at their passion. They get a lot done, they are obsessive, and loud.

Those that don’t have a passion are like hummingbirds. The move from tree to tree, flower to flower, trying this and that and building incredibly rich lives. They cross pollinate other people’s lives with their love and ideas.

Remember Passion

If you don’t have a passion, it’s okay. There are probably more people than not that don’t have a passion. Passion can even be a dangerous impulse. Pause for a moment and look back on your own life. Look at that passionate love story you had. How did it work out for you? What kind of turmoil were you left with when that passion was done with you?

Whether you have passion or not, I am sure you will build a rich life full of trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, twists and turns, that can leave you exhausted and/or blissful. As the 14th century poet Hafiz said, “The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”

dreams, desires, goals, manifesting

Is he/she the one?

Dating. When we date, we try to see if h/she is a good match. It’s as simple as that. So, how do we make better decisions in our personal lives on who or who is not a good match for us. There are three adult attachment styles, which are avoidant, anxious, and secure. Which one are you and which one is your potential lover?

The famous seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza said: “All happiness or unhappiness solely depends upon the quality of the object to which we are attached by love.” So, choose wisely when you are getting involved with someone because the stakes are high. Your happiness depends on it.

If you are already in a relationship with a partner who has an attachment style that conflicts with your own, you’ll gain insight into why you both think and act as you do and learn strategies to improve your satisfaction level. I’ll share with you a small piece of each attachment style so you can get a better idea if h/she is a good match.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Let’s start with avoidant attachment style. Whether you are single or involved in a relationship, even a committed one, you are always maneuvering to keep people at a distance. H/She sees need as a weakness and looks down on people who become dependent on their partner, mockingly referring to such situations as “jail time.”

Avoidants tend to repress rather than express their emotions. If you’re avoidant, you connect with romantic partners but always maintain some mental distance and an escape route. Feeling close and complete with someone else – the emotional equivalent of finding a home – is a condition that an avoidant finds difficult to maintain.

Avoidants do the following:

Avoidants do some of the following: focus on small imperfections of their lovers, flirting with others, not saying, “I love you” – while implying that h/she does have feelings toward the other person, pulling away when things are going well (e.g. not calling for several days after an intimate date.), forming relationships with an impossible future (such as with someone who is married), checking out mentally when the partner is talking to him/her, keeping secrets and leaving things foggy – to maintain a feeling of independence.

An avoidant avoids physical closeness – e.g., not wanting to share the same bed, not wanting to have sex, walking several strides ahead of your partner, the avoidant says s/he doesn’t want to commit but stays together none the less. They blow up and hang up the phone or leave the room when you have a fight and refuse to discuss something that is important to you. Avo rarely look out for your emotional well being.

Secure Attachment Style

Next, let’s talk about secure attachment style. If you’re secure, you’re very reliable, consistent, and trustworthy. You don’t try to dodge intimacy or go nuts over your relationships. There’s very little drama in your romantic ties – no high and lows, no yo-yos and roller coasters to speak of.

In the process of understanding attachment and how a secure bond can transform someone’s life, we’ve grown to admire and appreciate the secures of the world. They’re attuned to their partner’s emotional and physical cues and know how to respond to them. Their emotional system doesn’t get too riled up in the face of a threat (as with anxious) but doesn’t get shut down either (as with the avoidant)

Time and again, research shows that the best predictor of happiness in a relationship is a secure attachment style. Studies demonstrate that individuals with a secure attachment style report higher levels of satisfaction in their relationships than people with other attachment styles.

Those that are secure are programmed to expect their partners to be loving and responsive and don’t worry much about losing their partner’s love. Secures feel extremely comfortable with intimacy and closeness and have an uncanny ability to communicate their needs and respond to their partner’s needs. They can directly express their needs to their partners. Secures aren’t concerned with threatening relationship thoughts even when they are caught off guard.

Secure lovers do the following:

During a fight they don’t feel the need to act defensively or to injure or punish their partner. They are mentally flexible and not threatened by criticism. They’re willing to reconsider their ways and if necessary, revise their beliefs and strategies. They are effective communicators and expect others to be understanding and responsive, so expressing their feelings freely and accurately to their partners. Not game players. Quick to forgive. Inclined to view sex and emotional intimacy as one. Treat their partners like royalty. They are secure in their power to improve the relationship.

Anxious Attachment Style

Last, let’s look at anxious lovers. People with an anxious attachment style are more vigilant to changes in others’ emotional expression and can have a higher degree of accuracy and sensitivity to other people’s cues. They tend to jump to conclusions very quickly, and when they do, they tend to mis-interpret people’s emotional state.

Anxious lovers think about his/her mate often and have difficulty concentrating on other things. They Remember only their lover’s good qualities, and they put them on a pedestal by underestimating their talents and abilities and overestimating their lovers. The anxious feeling only goes away when he/she is in contact with his/her lover. An anxious lover believes that this is his/hers only chance for love. Believing that even though they are unhappy, they’d better not let go.

Anxious lovers do the following:

Anxious lovers call, text, or email many times during the day and waiting for a phone call. They sit silently engrossed in a book, literally turning his/her back on the lover, not speaking with other people on the phone and ignoring him/her. Anxious lovers keep score by paying attention to how long it took them to return his/her phone call and waiting just as long to return theirs; waiting for them to make the first “makeup” move and acting distant until such time.

They act hostile by rolling his/her eyes when they speak, looking away, getting up and leaving the room while they’re talking. They threaten to leave and make him/her feel jealous.

Five secure principles for resolving conflict

1. Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being.
2. Maintain focus on the problem at hand.
3. Refrain from generalizing the conflict.
4. Be willing to engage,
5. Effectively communicate feelings and needs.

When you are in a fight, try to keep several truths in mind:

• A single fight is not a relationship breaker.
• Express your fears! If you’re afraid that s/he wants to reject you, say so!
• Don’t assume you are to blame for your partner’s bad mood. It is most likely not because of you.
• Trust that your partner will be caring and responsive and go ahead and express your needs.
• Don’t expect your partner to know what you’re thinking. If you haven’t told him/her, he/she doesn’t know.
• Don’t assume that you understand what your partner means. When in doubt, ask.

The most important take-home message is that relationships should not be left to chance. Relationships are one of the most rewarding of human experiences, above and beyond other gifts that life has to offer. So, choose wisely.

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