Welcome to Self-Care Saturdays, a series of bonus blog posts that will be released on the last Saturday of each month. In a world where we are constantly faced with demands on our time and energy, it can feel impossible to slow down enough to pay attention to our own needs and take steps to care for them. These articles are meant to get you thinking about one small step you can take today to practice kindness and care for yourself.
What is the thing you desire most in the world? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What events or experiences lead to the most anticipation in you? The most excitement? What do you enjoy doing above all else? What do you feel called to do? What are you made for?
When we think about desire and passion, it can lead to happiness and daydreaming about what you want your future to look like. Or it may stir up painful emotions. You might not be able to answer the questions, or you feel that your current life does not reflect your desires and passions.
How do we define desire and passion?
Merriam Webster defines passion as ardent affection; a strong liking or desire or devotion to some activity, object or concept; sexual desire; or an object of desire or deep interest. On a different vein, desire is defined as a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment; something longed or hoped for.
It is interesting that both desire and passion are connected to sexuality or intimacy. Our sexuality is linked the core of who we are as human beings, to our identity. Therefore, these passions and desires link into the core of our beings. However, desire and passion often become warped when they involve constantly searching and striving for that which we desire, just to find that it is disappointing. Desire and passion need to be tempered so that they do not transform into an addiction to the desired object.
We might respond to the awakening of desire in ourselves negatively, fearing the potential outcomes. Avoidance and numbness soon follow, but the desires don’t disappear. Instead, they demand to be expressed, often in the form of addictions. This addiction numbs and gets rid of the longing, but is only a temporary fix, and the desires rear their heads again soon after. When we truly get in touch with our desires, we actually protect ourselves from the ways in which that hunger can spill out sideways into addictive behaviors.
Developing desire will be a painful process. Connecting with our desires and passion can lead to longing and grief as we realize areas where we haven’t been able to experience their fulfillment. This is why we tend to avoid and numb out when we feel desire come up. But ultimately, living into our desires gives us a deeper and more meaningful life.
How do I cultivate a life filled with passion and desire?
Identify the moments throughout your life when you’ve felt most alive.
Look for the moments of wonder or awe you’ve experienced in your life. Pay attention to experiences at work or at play where you’ve felt the power of flow. Imagine yourself stepping back into memories of feeling alive. What happened? How did you feel? Who was there? Reflect about moments in your memory of vivid happiness as a child: what images, experiences, or times do you remember most vividly? Where have you felt an unexpected surge of emotion, maybe while watching a film or reading a novel? Out in nature? Sitting across from a friend over coffee?
Consider the moments in your life when you’ve felt the most numb.
Identifying the moments when our hearts have felt dead can actually provide a window into desire. We avoid desire and dilute our passion by numbing because of the pain that comes with desires. Where are the areas in which you have numbed yourself to what is good? Where have you looked at a beautiful sunset or a mountainous landscape and felt nothing? Answers to these questions can hint at the areas that are closest to your heart. What is your go-to numbing strategy? Where do you dissociate? Pay attention to moments when you’ve felt apathetic.
List the losses you’ve experienced that have been the most painful.
These losses could include the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship or marriage, or the loss of a job or dream. What did you desire to have happen in those times? What do you regret, or wish you could go back and change? Where have you felt disappointed? Where has hope felt lost? The people, experiences, or things that are valuable to us are often the most painful to lose. As we pay attention to these losses, we can become more aware of areas of desire.
Listen to what you want.
Often, we weren’t given the freedom to be able to have what we want. Maybe you grew up with strict parents or teachers, or had financial limitations that prevented you from attending the school you wanted. When we experience disappointment of our desires and feel numb as a result, we can become comfortable in doing what is “right” or what is expected of us. This can lead into the trap of perfectionism. Instead, pay attention to the things you truly want to do.
Write about the live you wish you could live.
We often dream about a different career or become interested in a new skill or hobby that may or may not have anything to do with our present career or vocation. What is your dream job? Is it where you work, or elsewhere? If you could have a do-over in life, what would look different? What do you feel called to do? What are you made for? Write a story, a journal entry, or even just a list of what you wish your life could look like. Are you able to take steps to make that dream a reality?
Step outside of the daily grind and into an area of passion.
The drudgery of day to day life drags us down and tells us that we can never truly have what we desire. It is so easy for our passion to be dulled and numbed as face responsibilities. To find the passion again, we have to be intentional about eliminating busy-ness and avoiding situations in which we feel we have to do something for performance’s sake or because it is “right.” Maybe even things you enjoyed at one time have begun to feel like a burden or chore. As you begin to say “no” or give up those areas more and more, you’ll be able to find the enjoyment anew in those activities. As you release the control that comes with perfectionism, you’re able to trust.
Finally, cultivate patience.
Desire and passion stir up a longing for what is not yet here, and may or may not come. No wonder it is scary to go there! As you begin to become aware of these desires, step into what it might feel like to wait. Yes, it is painful. No, it is not easy. But being aware of our desires and willing to walk into the potential pain of not yet receiving them brings us a sense of life and authentic joy.
Are you consumed by desires that feel so big and powerful that you can’t control them? Or are you caught in a pattern of avoidance and feeling numb? Do you even know what you desire or are passionate about? At Restored Hope, I offer counseling services in Ann Arbor to help you listen to your life in a way that allows you to recognize your desire and begin to create space for passion in your life. Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or email me today to hear more about how I can help.