At a time like this, thinking about our sense of passion and purpose can feel like a luxury. But the truth is that connecting to inspiration can be a beneficial coping mechanism. If you are an essential service provider in the areas of healthcare and social services, inspired connection to your passion and purpose is a vital element in your ability to develop and draw on your resiliency.
In 40 years of working in human services and education, I’ve noticed a theme in what first captures the heart of service providers and what keeps them going long into their careers. When asked, most will tell you that they felt a sense of calling to a vocation in service to others. There is a belief that they have a contribution to make and that what they have to offer might be of benefit to others.
Curiosity about the human condition along with a reverence for the human spirit, ignite a fire within service providers who are committed to an optimistic view of the world and the people within it. These intrinsic motivators go a long way to keep service providers engaged even in the face of long hours, challenging circumstances, relatively low pay (for some minimum wage), human suffering and dysfunctional work places.
Passion on a Continuum
When the connection to a sense of passion and purpose begins to wane, service providers become that much more susceptible to the risk of burnout and exhaustion. In fact, they have been trained over the years, to be on the lookout for symptoms of burnout and to develop strategies that keep it at bay. They have been encouraged to practice “self-care” in order to stay well. Most of the emphasis tends to focus on the basic aspects of physical health that we all need in order to survive and thrive. But, something is missing.
Lately, I have been hearing the guidance to connect in to the passion and sense of purpose that originally motivated me to a career in service to others. Returning to that place where I first felt inspired has been suggested to be a source of inspiration for what I am facing now. It is meant to remind me that I signed up for this with good reason way back when and if I can just get in touch with that original spark, I’ll find my way through my current challenges.
I believe there is truth in this idea, and I believe there is more to it. Your length of time in the helping professions has an impact on how much your original call to serve has evolved. In fact, if you are new to the field and your first year has found you smack in the middle of a global pandemic, I would place bets that many of you are re-thinking your choice and coming face to face with a disillusionment that most stave off until at least years two or three.
If you are a veteran like me, and you can recall what initially inspired you to enter your chosen vocation, you are likely aware that a lot has changed since then ~ even if only in subtle ways.
The Power of Passion
So, connecting to passion, purpose and inspiration is vitally important in terms of restoring resilience, but those energies must be accessible and believable to us in this moment. Often the motivations that fueled us in the beginning were philosophical in nature just for the shear fact that we had little to no applicable experience. Real life has a way of altering those abstract ideologies, but it also has the capacity to strengthen our commitment to the vision in practical ways.
Connected to passion we become more creative and able to innovate. Passion helps us think outside the box. It connects us to our capacity, deeper wells of ability, and expands self-trust giving us the ability to endure and keep going. Without passion we run out of steam and feel directionless because passion is about purpose and offers us focus.
A state of passion helps us to dig deeper into our stores of resilience and to strengthen our capacity to recover. In a resilient state, we develop stronger coping strategies. If we don’t care about something we don’t invest in this development. It’s the challenge that calls us to our stores of resilience in the first place.
Passion fuels inspiration. When we are inspired we are enthused and we become filled with an energetic force that goes beyond thinking and logic and taps into intuition and the human spirit. We need new ways of being not a return to the normal that was. If it had been working well, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
Nurturing and paying attention to your passion is one of the highest expressions of self-care. To say that you care about expressing your passion and feeling a sense of fulfillment through your contribution is a demonstration of your commitment to caring for yourself. You are saying that you care about what matters to you even if no one else does.
Powerful Guiding Questions
Follow your curiosity and respond to these probes:
How can my original inspiration guide my practice right now?
What feels good to me in the work I am doing in the world?
How can I contribute today in ways that express my passion for this work?
What helps me to be present in my interactions with others when I feel rushed and overwhelmed?
Reflect on your original inspiration to be of service in the world and then nurture those passionate feelings in the present moment. Allow that energy to direct your approach as you respond to the needs of people around and as you deeply tune into and care for your own needs.
Living and serving from a place of passion and inspiration is a self-care strategy. Allow yourself to be buoyed by the spirit of contribution and the energy of service. Know that your presence has influence and what you offer has impact, not only in the world, but within you as well.
Another instalment in the Conscious Service Series for Helping Professionals and Personal Caregivers.