Difference between Passion and Obsession

I was talking to a client during one of my coaching sessions, where she kept on discussing the importance of passion in her life. She was passionate about her work and everything else came second. This was during the first session. Typically, in Life Caching, you work with a clients over series of sessions and this becomes an interesting phase for their self-discovery. Little did I know, that my client who started with sessions on passion was actually discovering her obsession over it. She was caught in a tongue in cheek moment during the third session when she realized how this whole pursuit of a certain goal at work had become an obsession. During such moment’s clients look to their coaches for valuable insights and that’s when I thought how passion and obsession are only very slightly different from each other. Thus the need to explain it in the most lucid way to my innocent client.

Passion is a drive that motivates you to do something incessantly for the love of it and you have complete control over this drive. Obsession is passion without control. Obsession is a phase where your mind’s attachment to the passion eludes you, conquers you and enslaves you. Your mind intrudes all thoughts which once made this obsession, a passion. Passion equates to a sane desire whereas obsession means desire leading to insanity. On explaining this to my client, I realized how she broke the illusion of her obsession turned passion. This delusional phase had destroyed her personal life, was about to turn her professional life into mayhem and would have nearly become so, if not the timely intervention. What I learnt was pretty interesting to become the crux of this write up today. Little do we know about the difference of passion and obsession. Little do we know of the power of passion and the darkness of obsession. So how does one continue to harbor the passion and evade the obsession?

Few things that one must always bear in mind- Passion is positive, obsession is negative. Passion drives one to achieve perfection in light of joy and happiness. Passion means accomplishments for the love of it and success is just the by product of a passion which is well nurtured. Where as in obsession one is driven by madness, craze and absolute need to get what they desire. This kind of a drive only brings frustration, anger, sadness and longing. Failure and psychological disorders are the by product of obsession. We all start with passion and gradually turn to obsession. When we begin to see fleeting glimpses of failure, sadness creeps in, fun goes out and the thrill to achieve something becomes everything. This is where your awareness comes into play and creates a clear demarcation of passion and obsession. Look out for few symptoms when you become aware of the insane desire to go after something which may actually be burning you out:

1 Anger emanating from lack of success

2 Frustration and restlessness causing lack of sleep

3 Constant need to prove something and be on the go

4 Incessant worrying or thinking

5 Unable to enjoy the process or the journey and only focused on the goal or the final destination

If you are experiencing one of more of the above listed symptoms, then you know what is happening to your passion. In such case, cut back, take it easy and remind yourself that YOU are control of the stirring wheel of life and not your obsession. Cut back on time from such obsession, invest this time into something more fruitful and work on ways to keep yourself occupied constructively without being drawn into the madness. Harness the power of awareness that will help you keep this obsession in check. Get the fun element out of this whole activity and do it for the simple joy of it and not because you ought to do it. Separate random doing from enjoying the activity. Fun is an important precursor to passion and frustration and restlessness of obsession. Measure your state of mind as to where you stand and take precautionary actions. Speak to someone who can help manage this difference and work on simple ways of inculcating passion and doing away with obsession.

My client after having realized the problem, decided to stop the pursuit of her career goals and take a break of few months to simply STOP and enjoy the phase of life that she was in. she came back to me after a few months and this time it was not for a goal or an area of improvement but her remaining sessions were entirely focused on developing those one or two hobbies that could become her passion. She gained a lot of insight and so did I. As I always say- every client has something to teach the coach, a meaningful lesson or an important takeaway from life. Since then I have kept a constant check on my passion and I hope you too  will from today.

Karmel Nair is a certified Life Coach, Psychotherapist and a Published Author. For more information on coaching,  improvement, success in life and overall well being , write to us at coach@karmelnair.com or subscribe to the blog posts below.












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