Welcome to the new WWB Passioneer department! I am so excited about introducing this area of exploration for all my World Wise Beauties ( and beasts for that matter too).
As a psychology major in college I was most attracted to the fairly new school of ideas from Humanistic Psychology. The humanist ( now part of a Positive Psychology movement) are focused on an individuals potential and stress the importance of self growth and self-actualization. They just seemed to look at the human experience more “holistically” than the other disciplines of psychology I studied and the idea of looking at the whole person made a lot of sense to me.
Human Potential, Self -Actualization, ( a term coined by Abraham Maslow) Creativity, and Individuality are the central themes of Humanistic Psychology and wonderful topics for us to explore at World Wise Beauty. I am excited to delve into how we “actualize” and become our “true authentic selves”. Deep? Well maybe, but for all of us at WWB, it’s just a process of self-discovery. Becoming “comfortable in your own skin” is a worthwhile mission and I believe we are all Passioneers ready to take flight. After all…life is too short for the boring stuff!
I am honored and thrilled to introduce my first guest blogger Rebecca Fraser Thill, who has her Masters in Developmental Psychology and teaches , writes and speaks about her passion for “aligning the authentic self with the working self”. An important process and meaningful journey for all adults at various ages and stages of development…
5 Steps to Finding Your Passion
by Rebecca Fraser-Thill
Guest Blogger at World Wise Beauty
“Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.” That’s my favorite quotation of all time, and the basis of my life’s philosophy. I love how the line, spoken by civil rights activist Benjamin Mays, powerfully exhorts us to find our “unique and distinctive something” because we’re the only ones who can attend to it.
1. Understand What Passion Is – And Isn’t
I’ve had countless coaching clients and students say to me, “I’m not passionate about anything.” My response? “You’re kidding yourself.”
The thing is, passion has been grossly misrepresented in our society. We think of it as some loud, aggressive energy that causes people to toss out practicality and go boldly forth with vigor. And, sure, sometimes passion looks like that. After it has become well established.
In reality, passion starts as a mere whisper. It’s a stirring that gently tugs at you time and again when life stills enough for you to notice it. We expect passion to be an incessant wallop over our heads, like the desire to drink after a hot day in the sun. When we fail to recognize that passion begins as a hesitant tapping, we fall into the trap of believing we “don’t have a passion.”
2. Turn Off Your Practical Mind
Recognizing and living your passion is the greatest creative endeavor of your life. Respecting the creative process, then, is a key part of finding your passion.
The creative process begins with vision. During the visioning phase, practicalities are strictly off-limits. You have to be willing to think like a child, who can build a tall ship in the living room in the morning and slay dragons in the backyard in the afternoon.
You have to give yourself permission to think up grandiose ideas without putting them through immediate thought trials. Tell yourself, “I’m just thinking here. I’m just dreaming.” Then hold yourself to it. You can’t create a vision with a cynical critic standing on the sidelines saying, “That could never happen because of X, Y, and Z.”
3. Hear Yourself
Now that you’re open to what passion feels like and have your practical mind crammed into your mind’s closet, you’re ready to start to hear yourself. I regularly recommend that my coaching clients begin writing “morning pages” daily. These free writes recommended by writer Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way are invaluable tools for getting in touch with your thoughts and quiet stirrings.
The “rules” of morning pages:
- Do them daily.
- Do them in the morning, ideally soon after waking up.
- Write them in long hand. (Turning on the computer presents too much temptation to check email or Facebook for “just a minute”…which always turns into twenty minutes.)
- Write three pages ONLY. If you let yourself write too much, the process will become time-consuming and you’ll be less likely to do them in the future.
- Do not censor yourself. Write whatever is in your mind. Period.
Morning pages are powerful for three reasons:
- Since they’re completed in the morning, you’re still in a “dreaming” space. Your inner critic tends to sleep in late, so you get to let thoughts out before he or she begins censoring you.
- You give yourself one set time each day to hear yourself. That practice in and of itself holds great power.
- By writing, you see your thought patterns and obsessions emerge in a way you can’t by simply listening to your inner chit chat.
4. Quiet Others’ Voices
In the morning pages, you may start to see the hints of passion emerge – topics or themes that you come back to time and again and/or that evoke particularly strong emotions in you.
Some of these “passions,” however, will not feel true to you. Some of them – and many of your thoughts, fears, and frustrations – come from someone other than you. They’re the ideas of your parents, teachers, friends, and society at large that you imbibed and accepted as “your own.”
“Passions” that come from someone else don’t last and don’t motivate us. As Mays said, we each have our OWN “unique and distinctive something” to attend to. So after a few weeks of doing morning pages, begin to sift through your writing and consider what resonates as being “yours” versus “not yours.” It doesn’t matter who precisely the “not yours” came from; you’ll waste time and energy dredging up the past. Instead, focus on moving forward with your true voice firmly established.
5. Guard Your Passion
Now that you have a sense of the stirrings that come from somewhere deep inside of you, it’s up to you to guard that passion and let it grow. Heaping too much practicality onto a passion early in the process will make it withdraw to the recesses of your mind.
Although you’ve learned to keep your inner critic at bay, beware of the outer critics all around you. Until you’re genuinely confident in your passion, don’t share it with others.
When you do feel ready to share it, choose your confidants carefully. It’s best to pick people who live a vision-filled life for themselves, and respect the process of crafting a life that matches the true self. These individuals can serve as guides as your passion gradually moves from whisper to shout. Before you know it, you’ll have the bold, loud passion about which others are envious, but you’ll be too busy acting on the passion to notice.
Rebecca Fraser-Thill is the founder of Working Self, a site that encourages twenty- and thirtysomethings to pursue fulfilling, self-driven work. She has been teaching psychology at Bates College since 2003 and is a life and career coach, freelance writer, and speaker. Connect with her on Twitter @WorkingSelf