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Why Following Your Passion Might Be Bad Advice

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follow your passion
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We’ve all heard it a thousand times, if you want to be happy in life, follow your passion. Let’s look closer at this advice. The word passion comes from the Latin root word patior, which means “to suffer.” So, when someone tells you to follow your passion, they’re saying you should do something for which you are willing to suffer.

That’s not how passion is used in today’s entrepreneurial landscape. It’s been hijacked and saddled with a new meaning tied to a financial outcome. Frankly, passion has nothing to do with earning a 10x return or building a seven-figure business. That garbage is used to peddle books and programs—it’s not truth.

Here’s the question to ask yourself to see if you’re passionate about what you’re doing: Am I willing to put in the work and never see the fruit? If the answer is no, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not your passion. 

Fear not, though. In this article, I’ll lay out an alternate starting point for whatever it is you want to achieve in life. That said, I don’t want to ignore passion, so let’s first walk down the path of following your passion to see where you might end up.

The Side Hustle Culture

Let’s start with a simple question: Why has “follow your passion” become such a popular mantra in recent years? Part of it is the misconception I mentioned that riches will come if you pursue your passion, but the other piece is employee disengagement. 

Worldwide, we’re showing up to work totally checked out. A Gallup study revealed that 85% of employees are not engaged at work, costing us $7 trillion annually in lost productivity. That’s more than the GDP of all but two countries (US and China).

If you’re showing up to a place you hate every day, one where your gifts, abilities, and potential aren’t being realized, of course you’re going to pursue your passion by starting a side hustle. It’s estimated that 37% of Americans have done just that.

Where Your Passion Might Lead

Side hustles don’t just represent extra income—they represent freedom; the chance to break away from a hated job and pursue a passion full-time. So, let’s say you do that. Statistics paint a grim picture for your chances of long-term success. According to the Small Business Administration, about half of new businesses make it past five years.

If you’ve tethered your identity to the twisted definition of passion that equates success with a certain outcome, your self-worth will take a big hit. You might see yourself as a failure, which isn’t true, but that won’t stop those thoughts from entering your mind. Instead of attaching your identity to your passion, let me suggest a different approach.

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Sheryl Sandberg

Find Your Worth Before Your “Why”

What Simon Sinek talked about in his book “Start with Why” is spot on. Before looking at the “what,” you need to figure out the “why.” But there’s a crucial step before that: You must first see yourself as worthy of having a “why.” If your self-worth has cratered after you followed your passion and failed, you might not feel very worthy. That’s why I suggest beginning here and not deferring it to the future.

Let’s keep digging. In order to see yourself as worthy, you need to answer the question: Who am I? Only once you know yourself can you see the worthiness inside you. When I set out to answer that question myself, here were three things that helped:

  • Doing something challenging
  • Making time for reflection and visualization
  • Creating “I am” statements: I am _________________

Let’s walk through each of these steps in a little more detail.

Take Steps to Discover Who You Are

The first step in finding out who you are is doing something challenging. For me, that was CrossFit. I believe that when you do something physically challenging, it opens up the possibility that you can accomplish something mentally challenging, too.

We’re building what Dr. Albert Bandura called “self-efficacy” which is our belief in our own abilities to succeed in challenging situations or accomplish a difficult task. When I do an intense workout and don’t die, it builds my confidence that I can do other difficult things, too.

However, I can’t tap into that belief if I don’t take time to reflect on it. That’s why, after you do something challenging (it doesn’t have to be exercise), you must make time to be silent and visualize yourself achieving something difficult in the future. By doing this, you’re acknowledging and reinforcing the idea that you’re effective and capable.

From there, I find tremendous value in writing “I am” statements such as this one: I am capable of doing hard things.

When you do something challenging, you’re working through the progression that ends here. You move from “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “I can” and finally “I did.” By reflecting on your thoughts, you can recognize this progression, and by verbalizing it with an “I am” statement, you’re making a clear declaration about your identity.

“The man who achieves makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing.” – Benjamin Franklin

Using Your Gifts to Serve Others

I can say with confidence that these three steps will help you discover who you are, why you’re worthy, and what your “why” is because it worked for me. About a decade ago I was nearly broke, had to short sell our first home, and was diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of our fourth child (and my wife was the one who did all the heavy lifting there). In every way, I saw myself as a failure.

As I worked through this process, I discovered new things about myself, rebuilt my self-worth, and found a new “why” which turned out to be helping people find the truth that dwells within them. Now, I’m fueled by passion because I’m rooted in purpose. Instead of focusing on an outcome, I’m focused on using my gifts to help as many people as I can. If you ask me, I’m willing to suffer for that.

What are your thoughts on the above article? Do you agree with the author or not? Share your thoughts and ideas with us below!

Mike Flynn has been advising individuals, as well as executives of companies large and small since 2005. In 2015, he launched a podcast called “The Impact Entrepreneur Show”. Since then, he has had nearly 200 one-on-one conversations with some of the world’s most elite athletes, thinkers and entrepreneurs in an effort to discover how they are using their personal stories to have a game changing impact in the lives of others. For more advice on uncovering who you are, check out Master the Key on Amazon.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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