Passion (from the Ancient Greek verb πάσχω (paskho) meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something.
Obsession is the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.; a persistent idea or impulse that continually forces its way into consciousness, often associated with anxiety and mental illness.
Passion and obsession, two words that get intertwined quite often. Are they one in the same? It’s easy to get obsessive about things we’re passionate about. The definitions above show how similar they are. Why does passion have a positive connotation and obsession has a negative one? Is there such a thing as healthy obsession? Do people mask unhealthy obsession with passion? Sure, sometimes. It can be fairly easy to do. I know Iv done it without even knowing it. Then when I do realize I’m obsessed, I use it as a tool. Am I fooling myself? Probably.
For me, it comes down to energy. When I’m passionate about something, I feel more joy discussing it and acting on it. It feels fluid and I don’t feel empty and exhausted later. When I’m obsessed, I usually feel more persistent and the pleasure comes from me knowing I’m doing what I feel I should be doing. Obsession usually involves something I want or something I already have but feel I may lose. Example time! OK, I’m consistently passionate about dogs and public relations. I can go on and on about these topics for hours. When I spend time with my dogs, volunteer with animal rescue groups, give PR advice, complete a full day of work on a campaign…I feel great. Stable and balanced. I can just as easily get obsessive about these things too. My dogs behavior is a reoccurring obsession for me. I can easily get obsessed with a particular PR project I’m working on. In both instances I am demanding perfection, which is usually unattainable. When I’m in this place of obsession, I feel annoyed, drained and sometimes hopeless. No fun. Don’t even get me started on romantic relationships, obsessions favorite playground.
So what do I do about it? I ask for help. Call it God, the Source, Higher Power, Energy, Mother Nature…whatever you wanna call it. I ask something larger than myself for help to see the truth. Sometimes I also ask a trusted friend. Am I being passionate or obsessive? Both? Help me find balance in this particular situation. Getting the obsessive thoughts out of my head makes them lose steam. I also take some contrary action (tips below). Guess what my experience is? It works! Usually not right away, but if I keep at it, keep asking for help and guidance, things work out. Amazing, right? Remember, knowledge is power.
- Make a list of 5 (or more) things you feel passionate about
- Make a list of 5 (or more) things you know (or have a feeling) you obsess over
- Any overlap? Too much obsession?
- Try these actions to fight the obsessions that ail you:
– Get physical: take a long walk, jog, swim or whatever physical activity you prefer.
– Clean house: literally, clean your house! This is my favorite…my apartment is spotless when I’m obsessing (clearning clutter is also good feng shui).
– Pump up the jam: listen to some music: turn up your favorite playlist, dance around to change your energy…if you think this is silly, DO IT…it works.
– Creative visualization: think the opposite of your obsession, imagine a happy place and time as if its already happening. For example, your obsessing about being more fit, imagine you are already in the best shape of your life and truly FEEL it. Positive thinking can be powerful, especially when you can really feel it and believe it.
– Identify the fear: since most obsessions are rooted in fear, write down a list of fears related to this obsession. Seeing them in front of you can really help you become more aware and sometimes make you realize how silly and unrealistic it all is.
– Change your routine: many obsessions can become routines for us. Change things up, do something you rarely get to do (visit a museum, take a cooking class, change your driving route to work, visit the library, volunteer, etc).
Ideally these tips will help you snap out of it. Now listen up, I’m no doctor…so if your obsessively washing your hands until the skin is raw or you can’t leave your house without touching the microwave 22 times, you may want to seek professions help. I know Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be a serious thing you don’t want to take lightly. Hopefully your obsessions aren’t this serious and can be combated without any pill popping. I know some obsessions can seem incredibly overwhelming, but becoming aware of them and taking contrary action can make them a whole lot less powerful. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?