A painful fact about our obsession with things that give us pleasure.
It’s common knowledge that we often pursue our passions for our own good, but it’s less well known that pursuing our passions can sometimes be quite stressful.
We can examine our passions and see if they’re adding value to our life by making sure they don’t ruin it.
Why Passion Can Harm Mental Health
Passion can be:
- The great kind: Things we genuinely enjoy doing, which bring us genuine pleasure and often place us in a state of blissful absorption. We love the process no matter the end result and the final product. This is called harmoniously passionate.
- We’re obsessed with these kinds of activities that we think define us but which actually end up holding us back from living life fully. These are known as obsessions.
Passionate people who are harmoniously passionate tend to be happier than obsessive ones. However, passionate people who are obsessively passionate may experience less stress and burn out than their obsessive counterparts.
Passion vs Passion
When we’re harmoniously passionate, we feel good about ourselves and our lives. We enjoy doing things for their own sake, not just because they bring us pleasure.
That’s one reason I write now, was last month, and will be next month. I do it because i want to.
When obsessive passions take hold, things can become dark. Especially when people are obsessed with having a better identity.
That’ s the aspiring fashion designer who wants to be a super star but doesn’t know how to go about it. That’s the actor who needs the recognition of his peers. That’s the writer who writes for free just to get noticed.
Compare that with the other kind. The kind where people love doing something so much that they just keep going at it no matter what happens.
The model who just likes to have some laughs and hang out with other people, regardless of whether she gets paid or not. She doesn’t care about being photographed or acting in movies. Her only goal is to make everyone around her laugh and enjoy life.
The actor performs his best on camera, regardless of what he does off screen. He wants to show the world how talented he is, and he won’t stop until he succeeds.
The writer works hard every day, whether anyone else sees it or not. They write because they can’t help themselves; it’d feel wrong if they didn’t.
Knowing Which Passion Type is Yours
This is a really big question that may require more honesty than you’re willing to initially give. It could be the one big issue you aren’t yet ready for.
If you’re obsessed with achieving a certain image, then realise that obsession can be hard to shake off. You won’t let yourself get there by letting yourself think about it too deeply.
There are some signs that you need to look out for when hiring freelance writers. However, humans are complicated and these aren’t hard and fast rules, so…
- If you’re passionate about something because you want to be seen as successful at that thing, or if you love to identify yourself as “an artist”, “a musician”, “a lawyer” or “a doctor”, then your passion might be obsessive.
- When you’re passionate about something because you really enjoy doing it, and when you do so for hours at a time without realizing it, then your passions probably align well.
- Think external achievement vs internal satisfaction.
Consider this too, but change the following activities to your own passions.
Are you interested in either performing or writing for television, film, or theater?
Do you enjoy writing or enjoy being thought of as a writer?
Are you interested in talking about your work or actually working on it?
You see the distinction? One is activity or procedure-based and the other is identity-based. If your passions are based in your identity, then rejections aren’t just seen as objective critiques of your efforts, they’re also hacked into your very self.
That’s when the mental health problems can begin to crop up.
It’s important for us to be confident in who we are so that we don’t feel ashamed when things go wrong.
We’re often driven by our egos, which seek out identities that we think will be pleasing to others and satisfying to us.
Even though these identities may not be pleasurable at all, they help us to achieve self-esteem.
Obsessive passions can be good for your skills, but they can also make you feel insecure about yourself.
In order to get better at something, you should practice it often. When you’re working on something you really enjoy doing, you’ll find yourself improving faster than you would otherwise.
You might not end up liking what you’ve done, but you’ll definitely learn a lot along the process.
Doubts and Taking the Leap
Question your passions, but be aware of the risks associated with them. If they’re not really for you, then consider giving them up.
“Never let go of your passions” may sound good at first, but if you realize what the wrong kind of passions can do, then it might not be so wise after all.
If you’re not sure whether to go for it or not, here’s an interesting factoid from a recent research paper:
It’s Wise to Think Carefully
Even if your obsession is just a hobby disguised as a love of something else, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with it.
You may enjoy it, even get paid for it, and it may lead you to some amazing places, but if it’s impacting your mental well-being, then it may be worth thinking about whether it’s really helping you.
If you’re pursuing your dream job because you believe it’ll give you a sense of self worth, consider whether you actually enjoy the process of working towards that goal.
Is it fulfilling enough to keep you motivated? Or do you feel like you’re putting in hours only to receive praise and recognition?
Do you find fulfillment in the end product or does it simply serve as a stepping stone to bigger things?
Do you really love it, or are you just trying to please others by making them happy?
If you really enjoy doing something for its own sake, then don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.