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How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Passion 

By August 2, 2021May 30th, 2023No Comments

If you’re reading this, chances are you are goal-oriented, enjoy challenges and self-improvement, and also are pursuing a passion.  

Oftentimes, the goals and desires we have for ourselves come from a place of passion.  Passion can be a pretty strong driver.  It can also be so strong that it causes problems in our lives.  In psychology, there are two types of passion; obsessive passion and harmonious passion.  

Obsession passion can lead to burnout and destructive behavior. The person feels so driven by the activity that it consumes them, and they even get lost in it. It can lead to problems in relationships, burnout, and even shame.  Obsessive passion comes from a place of compulsion.  It can also be linked to fear and an extreme seeking of external validation.  Obsessive passion and addiction walk a fine line.  Obsessive passion can also be dangerous because a person’s self-esteem can get tied up in the activity.

Harmonious passion is engaging in an activity you love for the joy it brings you, not for external rewards or validation.  When you only define your success based on external validation and don’t love the work (or at least love the work most of the time) for the sake of doing the work itself, that’s where you see people quit or burnout.  Harmonious passion is doing the work for the sake of personal mastery and improvement.

Checking in on how your passion is driving you, what you’re trying to get from it, and how to maintain a healthy relationship with your passion is important.  That isn’t to say that pursuing passion is fun all the time. Some definitions of the word passion go back to defining passion as suffering. Suffering doesn’t have to be negative, but sticking with something, even when it hurts (within reason) or is hard can have good benefits- bike riding hurts when you ride uphill and is often challenging, but we keep showing up because most us like riding for the sake of riding.

Being aware of what you’re giving up for short periods of time helps balance obsessive passion and prevents it from taking over your life. Asking questions like “what am I getting from this?” or “what am I truly giving up for this?” can help.  Also, doing different activities with different people can widen your perspective so your passion doesn’t take over your perception of what is important in the world.

Remember: The Work is the Reward.

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