Previously Published in SHE Magazine, Sept 2108
Melissa Fritchle, LMFT, Holistic Sex Therapist & Educator
Sex therapists are often asked to comment on how to increase passion or how to keep passion going. But often these questions are skipping a key component, which is - What is the experience of passion? How can we get more familiar with it so that we can invite more of it in?
Passion can feel like a deep well, where other interests are shallow. Passion feeds itself instead of quickly burning out. It is empowering, giving us courage and focus. In recognizing something we want, we can shed the old clothes of ambivalence or self doubt.
Passion is felt in the body, whether it is for a person or sex or a calling or an artistic endeavor, it is felt. Some people describe a quickening of pulse or breath, or a fluttering in the belly, or a rush of energy or heat in the core.
Something you are passionate about awakens you in some way. I sense that passion comes from things that bring us closer to our true selves, that expose us to ourselves in new ways. We are passionate in the now, we want to be there, we want to experience. We are called to show up. Passion stirs something in us that must feel real, that must invite a part of our self that is authentic and wants to come out to play. Passion invites us into our life.
Passion often feels new and edgy. There has to be something to learn there, something to remain curious about. Passion pulls us to dig deeper, go further, to create and keep creating. If we feel we have it all figured out, no surprises, I doubt passion will remain. Passion provokes us and stimulates risk.
Passion can scare us. In fact, the second dictionary statement on passion reads, “a strong feeling that causes you to act in a dangerous way.” And when talking to a friend about this, his first response was to question the difference between passion and obsession. Interesting. Passion grabs hold of us and feels outside of reason. Passion is not entirely a choice. But to me, passion is kind. It motivates us and channels us but doesn’t own us.
Passion is a flow fed by our elation.
Passion invites us to be uncontrolled – not out of control. There is a subtle but important difference here. Being out of control can hurt us. In that state we have no ability to gauge our own limitations and sensations or to do anything to mediate them. But choosing to be uncontrolled - Well, that is a beautiful thing. Letting go of control, temporarily, means we have already assessed that we are safe. That we can trust the environment, our body, our partners, our own capacity to feel and respond. Being uncontrolled means we can see what happens. We open our self to sensation; we allow our response in the moment.
Foundationally I have come to believe that passion is a choice we make about how we engage in the world. Choosing to look around us and find things to be excited about, rather than going through the motions trying to stay in the ease of the familiar. Choosing to let people see our excitement rather than playing it cool. Being curious enough to get inspired.
To live passionately requires us to pull down walls we build up, walls that have all the answers, that are cynical or bitter, walls that are shy or feel undeserving. We each have our blocks and ways we hold ourselves back. It takes conscious effort to prune away the limiting structures within ourselves. And it takes kindness to be gentle with our self in addressing the things we fear, the hurts that have shut us down before, the riskiness of being human.
Passion says “it is worth it” and reflectively I think we create passion by saying “this is worth it”. We want to give to that which draws our passion. And in giving, we receive more, and this feels good. When we are unwilling to give or invest or risk, we will be without passion.
So making space for this driving force in our life means first believing we have the energy to give. Believing that we are strong enough and brave enough and big enough to contain your passion and to express it. You draw your passion from within. And so before you choose where to channel or express your passion in the external world, you need to replenish your inner reserves. Tend to your self compassionately and honor the passionate relationship you have with yourself. Then you will have the spark you need to keep passion alive throughout your life.