When passion becomes poison

I’m a passionate person.  I like being a passionate person and I like being surrounded by other passionate people.  My passion is what drives me to make a difference in the world, if only in a small, individual way.  Is it possible to have so much passion for a cause that you become blind to the people around you, that you stop hearing what they are saying, that you become your own worst enemy?  I think it is and he’s why…

Over recent months I have had the absolute privilege of working with a fantastic, passionate facilitator who has taught me a lot about integrity and humility.  His passion is directed and focused and always balanced with his ability to self check his impact on his audience and friends.  I really admire his approach to helping people understand his culture in a non confrontational, comfortable way.

I guess I got used to this approach and came to see it as normal behaviour or maybe I needed it to be normal…So, I was absolutely devastated when I was confronted by a few members of the same cultural group who had a very, very different agenda.  The same passion was there and the same intent to deliver cultural understanding but the behaviour was very different.  In this case, passion had become poison.

The really unfortunate thing is that when passion turns to poison, you don’t help your cause because people become fearful of you and stop communicating and ultimately disengage altogether.  What comes out of your mouth is nothing but hot air.  Your anger and your pain become a huge barrier to moving forward and you end up in the place that you are trying so desperately to move from.  You become your own worst enemy.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from this experience

-one person’s pain is no more “special” than another’s – let’s acknowledge the pain but not compete over it

-it is important to understand the past in order to move forward

-if you take your passion and deliver it to people in a non-confrontational, calm and caring manner you will have much more success in being heard

-creating partnerships and having the courage to converse honestly and openly will enable forward movement on issues

If people are not listening to you, perhaps your passion has turned to poison…

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 06:45:33

    Hi Jude – gosh, sounds like an interesting experience you’ve been through. Must be time for a catch up soon. I’m a passionate person too (who would have guessed!) so at times can relate to what you’ve said. Talk soon!
    Heather

    Reply

  2. Lyndal
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 22:14:49

    I couldn’t agree with you more regarding how detrimental it is to moving a situation forward when people are stuck – especially when they are passionately embedded. Passion can indeed be a poison. However, I do know, from working alongside people who have experienced a great deal of pain, that there are different variations of pain and most certainly, there are different capacities for moving through pain dependent on the nature of that pain and the environment that it exists in. For example, as a white, middle class, relatively privileged and productive member of society, the pain I have experienced in the past may not be comparable to those whose journey through life has been more traumatic than my own. I’ve known pain – what adult hasn’t? But thankfully, my pain has been intermittent, confined to some dark years and ultimately, I was given the resources and resilience to apply the skills needed to move beyond it. Had I been in a concentration camp….or the victim of ongoing sexual abuse…..or subject to the generational trauma that comes from removing Indigenous children from their families…..maybe I would be less able and willing to move on from that. My point is that until pain is processed and until the cause of the pain is removed, it is not as easy to let it go. Given that Indigenous people remain second class citizens in our society….dying younger than white people do….jailed more frequently than white people are….abused in domestic and family violence situations more often than white people are….having their children removed at a rate far in excess than white children are removed….watching white people cross the road to avoid them…..being subjected to paternalistic policies by Government that white people are not….is it not any wonder that the pain and anger continue?

    Reply

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