Five Ways to Kill Your Passion for Life

by Vinita Hampton Wright on 02/05/2014

the number 51. Worry about what other people think.

When others’ opinions become a driving force for you, you cannot attend to your own wisdom, gifts, ideas, warning signals, and honest inclinations. You trade your unique vision of this world for second-hand glances. You cut off your action from your greatest source of power: your own soul and all the faith and grace that reside there.

2. Ignore your deepest desires.

We are created to desire, to want, to dream, to hope. When we push down those most basic human energies, we cease to move toward what God is dreaming for us. God guides us through our deep desires and loves, and the power in those desires and loves is what propels us forward to our destinies.

3. Focus on the negative.

Whether the negative you focus on is in you, in others, in the media you choose to absorb, or simply in the way your day is going, it will drag you off course. Get negative and watch the passion slip away, just like that. The passionate person does not ignore what is negative and needs attention—bad news, an unjust situation, her own anger or fear or anxiety, sorrow in the life of a loved one—but neither does she shape her reactions and attitudes around the negative. She is always heading toward the better day, the resolution, reconciliation, forgiveness, creativity.

4. Waste time and energy on what is not really important.

Do you create tasks that simply fill the time and make you feel more productive? Do you spend a lot of time with people who drain you of hope and happiness? Do you get involved with dramas and problems that are not really yours to take on? Take a brutally honest look at a typical week and identify lost potential. Sure, you could attend that thing because someone asked and you feel obligated. Or you could politely decline and go write your next song or cook the beautiful meal by which you express your care and passion for your loved ones.

5. Think in terms of success and failure.

In the first place, success and failure are quite relative. Sometimes a huge failure leads to the most creative thinking and subsequent success. It’s possible to fail in terms of making money but be a profound success artistically. Have you succeeded in planning a flawless event—only to deprive other people of the opportunity to participate and learn? If you measure your life by calling everything a success or failure, you will narrow and simplify your vision and thus miss so many nuances of experience that lend it meaning. Better to think in terms of, Did I grow? Did I learn? Did I love others? Did I experience joy? Did I dive honestly into sorrow?

Please feel free to add your own items to this list.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean C February 5, 2014 at 12:09 pm

This may be a sub-set of #1 above, but here goes:
Allow others to force their values and belief systems upon you, thereby supplanting your own and all you hold dear. This is a real passion killer.

I was raised in a family with a domineering mother who indoctrinated me with concepts about my lack of worth, inability to achieve my dreams, even to the point of insisting her opinions (read orders) be followed in my marriage, her opinions being the only accurate ones in life. Needless to say, it took some time for me to realize that her opinions, beliefs, attitudes were her own, and that I had a right to mine, as well. I did achieve the goals I’s been derailed over, eventually, became my own person. Not that she ever approved, but at the end of my days I won’t feel I have wasted my life.


WriterLinda (Linda G) February 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Were a person to fret the opinions of others they would be confused as opinions change with passing of every silly breeze. My own opinions change so I don’t listen to those either.


Jean C February 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm

The self appraisal questions at the end of #5 are excellent, and are what I ask myself in conjunction with doing the Examen.


ann February 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Jean, I also had mother-problems. I was a pre-mature baby w/ multiple birth defects foretold, none of them realized. So the mind-set I grew up with was others always come first, their needs and wishes come first. After all, I was “spared.” Even now I am troubled that I’m not in a regular volunteer effort. Several appeals have been put out for drivers at my church, but I’m a nervous driver and will not drive in snow, ice or heavy rain I know I will have to get a bus pass if I wreck this car, don’t have enuf savings to buy a new one. Recently I called the police to get into a friend’s apt;, she was n’t answering her phone and was jaundiced. I took her to emergency room and she had cirrhosis. Several people have told me I saved her life, which I probably did. So I know I am a person for others, but that nagging guilt is with me that I’m not doing more. My spiritual director is very helpful in helping me sort this out and I have an apt w/ her Friday. This post was very meaningful to me and I have printed it out. Thank you. Ann


Jean C February 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I think our take-home message is that people are often flawed in ways they are not aware of, or if those flaws are pointed out to them, in ways they do not wish to change. They may be products of their own upbringing, life experiences we haven’t had. Having said that, we don’t need to make their problematic attitudes, beliefs, opinions, our own. In fact, we must NOT make them our own, called as we are by God from before our conception, if we are to believe what the Bible teaches, we are each and every one of us created in God’s image, called for a purpose we might not be aware of (and which might not ever include being a driver!!!), but ultimately, if we are good enough for God then we should be good enough for ourselves. Being a giving person doesn’t automatically translate into giving of ourselves according to someone else’s standards, either. And, by the way, my husband and I stay off the roads when the weather is bad, too, as we consider it risk mitigation. Best wishes for a productive Friday appt.


WriterLinda (Linda G) February 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I thought that way too and then I decided that if God wants me to do something he will get me there. That works too. Often he gives us to do with what we have in front of us. Right under our nose sometimes.


Brenda February 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Another way to rob your life of passion is to take yourself … and life … too seriously. Many people would could benefit from a good dose of perspective. I was reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love just this morning, and in one of the first “visions,” God showed her a small ball the size of a hazelnut. When she asked what it was, He told her it was “all that is.” From God’s perspective, everything is small. We human beings often assign way more importance to events and situations than they deserve. How differently we would go through life if we could see as God sees. That’s not to say that life is a lark. Serious situations do occur, but I often find myself getting uptight about stuff that in the grand scheme of things don’t amount to a hill of beans. In those times, I try to step back and ask myself how important the current situation is to my life. Will I even remember it in a week or month? Will the outcome have any real significance in my life. Then I tell myself, lighten up!


ann February 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm

thank you, Jean. It’s one of those things I “know” intellectually; but knowing it at the feeling level is more difficult. You express yourself so well in writing; I’m happy you’re a contributor to this site. Ann


Jean C February 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Ann, thank you for not misunderstanding what I was saying – I thought I sounded preachy after I hit “send” and that wasn’t what I intended – rather I was cheering us all on. I, too, like you, get it intellectually but my heart doesn’t always process things as I’d wish.


Grace February 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Ann, try reading the words expressed by the FATHER about his SON Jesus at his Baptism: “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Lk3:22b). Following, repeat them saying: ‘you, Ann, are my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased.’ This made quite a difference for me as they made me understand I too am a daughter of God, the Father.
Hope this helps you.


Kathy February 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I think true happiness is in acceptance. The older I get I realize I don’t have to figure it all out and that trying to control everything is just exhausting.the word TRUST comes up again and again.Recently I allow my own thoughts and then I resolve to step back and say why not? I am learning to trust in the life given around me and I am not the be all and end all of everything. I guess what I’m saying is that to be who I was created to be I must be open and loving , laugh, and get out of the way. Again TRUST in God !


Sally February 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Awesome post, Kathy. Very well said. It has been a long, ongoing journey for me to learn to accept and love myself without constantly putting up bars. God doesn’t set the bar–I do! And for what? So I can never reach it? It can be a miserable circle that is damaging and prevents spiritual growth. It is also my challenge to trust and surrender (which by the way, is NOT for wimps). Thanks for your thoughts.


ann February 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

wow, Kathy, well-spoken! Thank you. We are becoming what Vinita wanted: a community. Ann


Pat February 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Kathy’s post is so true, I have long been plagued by fear and concerns about pleasing others. Gradually with much inner work I have come to reinforce my own belief that: I Am Good Enough!! because God made me to be who I am. I am finding my way in volunteerism in retirement, and realize that pacing myself will fuel my passions, and spreading myself too thin even in good things is a drain on the soul. I was reading Fr James Martin’s book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, and was captivated by the Ignatian thought that when we discover our passion we will begin to recognize God’s will for us (I paraphrase). But I know that when I let go of my preoccupations with the approval of others I gain insights and ideas for a life well lived. Happiness always to all


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