I came across this sentence: "People often think they need to find that one thing they're passionate about, but that framework is a trap in itself." (source)

I'm wondering why it's not "a trap itself," but "a trap in itself." Could anybody tell me what it means and how I use it in the future.

  • 2
    Hello, This seems to be a quote of Michael Gervais linkedin.com/pulse/passion-trap-michael-gervais When you are asking about a phrase that you have seen, please tell us the source, and if possible link to the source. – James K Aug 25 '20 at 8:59
  • Yes, you're right in saying this is a quote of Michael Gervais. When I googled "a trap in itself," I just found out this exsample by chance, and thought, "Wow, someone really used it that way," but I was not sure what use it is. Hmm, again, I'm sorry for not attaching the link to the source. – Evelyn Stewart Aug 25 '20 at 10:44
  • Thanks, I've added the source to the question. Why were you googling "a trap in itself"? – James K Aug 25 '20 at 11:14

Lexico gives a definition of "in itself":

Viewed in its essential qualities...

So this means that the essential properties of the framework (of seeking the thing you are passionate about) is a trap. Presumably he means that you will become trapped in the search, and not enjoy what you already have. It is a stoical point of view.

Lexico gives the example (slightly simplified here):

Bringing up a family is a full-time job in itself’

The phrase "in itself" adds very little to the meaning of the sentence. It suggests that "bringing up a family" is a full-time job, and it can't be made less than a full-time job.

  • I didn’t get what “essential qualities” means here, but I think of “in [and of] itself” as meaning not due to causing or being caused by any other factor. – StephenS Aug 25 '20 at 13:18

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