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Passion Thieves – and How to Stop Them

This sign is supposed to be about protecting your material possessions. Yet the deft work of someone’s pen has opened up a whole new meaning here…

Passion theft.

And with that notion, the one of passion thieves – and what they might look like – and how to stop them.

The whole thing reminds me of a technique which is often used in narrative therapy: externalising.

Externalising is the (strangely revolutionary) idea that you are not the problem.

That, in fact, the problem is the problem.

So what? you might think. It seems a pretty self-evident truth. Yet, initially, the field of psychology saw things differently. For a long time, the overwhelming thought was that the flaw lay within people themselves, and so it was people (not problems) that needed ‘fixing’.

Yet, as our friend with the passionate pen outlined, there are other ways of seeing this stuff. Ways that stop the blame game (and the guilt game and all that shaming and self-doubt that can come with the idea of personally being the problem).

So how does this externalising thing work?

Well, for instance, instead of seeing yourself as ‘an angry person,’ you may find that anger gate-crashes your world sometimes.

Instead of being ‘an anxious type,’ perhaps anxiety follows you around.

So it’s about not perceiving (or judging) your whole self as being, say, lackluster just because a sense of passion or exuberance have gone missing for now. Rather, it’s about seeing a ‘wet blanket’ for what it is (which is not you, or in any way indicative of who you might be in future) – and just getting out from under it. Not slapping yourself with a label, but labeling the quality or problem or impact.

So, back to that sign on the street. How can you stop the theft of your passion for life?

And whose hand steals into your bag to grab it anyway?
Is it Boredom’s slow and stealthy approach?
Complacency slipping in unseen?
Workaholism’s diligent strategy?

Does Perfectionism insist on exacting passion as a price for its services?
Or is it Self-doubt that undermines your passion, eating away at it?
Or any number of other qualities or behaviours…

Do any of these things seem to travel in gangs together to overwhelm you more powerfully and make off with the prize? Or are they lone stalkers?

And so, what might feel like a good approach to outwit these would-be thieves? To keep your passion safe from them.

Locking the doors or keeping your passion close to you?

Staying away from the dark alleys where Complacency & Co. might hang out?

Or perhaps knowing that you have an as-yet-untapped supply of passion that you could connect with and nourish?

So maybe externalising passion like this – or any of the countless other human emotions and challenges – might shed new light on the issue or problem.

Maybe it can also enlighten us with a new solution, too.

And perhaps externalising can even help us see ourselves in a new light as well…

What do you think?

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.

Passion Thieves – and How to Stop Them

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2010). Passion Thieves – and How to Stop Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Sep 2010
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