Passionately speaking

When Passion Becomes an Obsession

Once you are passionate about something, it’s all you can think about

When you really love doing something, you don’t get tired of doing it, right? (Photo: mohamed Hassan)

I love writing, so I write every chance I get. I write on my phone as I’m falling asleep because that’s when I’m most creative. I write when I can’t sleep because I’m hyper-creative with an overactive mind. I write on the bus because I need something to do until I arrive at my destination. I write on weekdays and on weekends too, because why not? I write whenever possible because I love it. Writing is a passion and being creative is fun. And when you really really really love doing something, you don’t get tired of doing it, right? Wrong. You get burnt the hell out!

I got burnt the hell out because I wrote and I wrote and I forget to give my body and mind a break. My body would be tired, but my mind says, “You better write this idea down before you forget.” I put my mind under a lot of mental exhaustion in the name of passion. I put my “self” under stress in the name of loving what I do.

When I'm passionate about something — or someone — I have very strong feelings about it, and I often don’t feel the need to take a break from whatever it is. If it’s my work, doing more of it seems like the best thing to do. If it’s a person, then I want to be with them all the time. Whatever I’m passionate about, I want it morning, afternoon, and evening. All. Day. Long.

You quickly realize passion and obsession are starting to look alike when you’ve been writing all day long without taking a break to clear the mind and recharge the body.

But the things we love the most end up looking like an obsession when we step outside of ourselves and look at it from an outside perspective. And what’s an obsession? It’s the unhealthy version of passion. Obsession is insanity. It looks crazy. It’s doing something so much that you are neglecting to pay attention to yourself and other aspects of your life. It’s forgetting about your other important needs like food, exercise, sunlight, and spending time with someone other than the one you are passionate about — or wait, obsessed? — with.

After months of being obsessed with writing, I quickly realized passion and obsession were starting to look alike. It became the same thing, and the result was fatigue. And when it had to do with another person, it was them wanting to get away from me because I was looking crazy. Remember the movie Obsessed by Beyoncé and Idris Elba, the other woman looked crazy as hell. She was too passionate about another woman’s man. And in the end, she paid for it with her life.

The same goes for an obsession with our work. We pay for it one way or another. Back pain, neck pain, eyestrain, headaches, and mental health issues.

And sometimes we still work through it all until the universe says, “That’s enough!” and forces us to take a break by making us fall ill. Sometimes bad things happen just to save us. And other times our emotional health suffers too. Then there’s a real problem.

Too much doing and not enough being is a catalyst for disaster.

I learn the hard way. When I work too much, my eyes pay the price. Then I don’t have an option but to close the laptop or put the phone away, take out my contacts, and sleep. Or take a break. But I always let it get to eye pain and migraines to do the right thing.

Breaks are important and needed for physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual well-being. Without breaks, we overwork all four levels of the self.

Working for long periods without taking a break leads to exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative.

Whatever it is you are currently working on, you will have more fun and do it better if you give yourself some time off to miss it. When you do something for far too long without taking a break, you become less effective at doing it. Stepping away from the work you are passionate about helps you remember why you love it so damn much. You return to your work with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Then your passion never gets old and doesn’t turn into insanity. Absence they say makes the heart grow fonder and that can apply to our work and even the people we love so much. When you take a break from the person you’re passionate about, you give them a chance to miss you.

When I step back from writing and return, I find my mind is at ease and words flow easily. So these days, I make sure I schedule breaks and I don’t write as much or at all on the weekends. I take the weekends off to spend time with my family and do the other things I love to do.

Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. (Photo: OpenClipart-Vectors)

Taking a break from writing doesn’t mean I stop thinking about it and new ideas. Taking a break from someone doesn’t mean I stop wanting them. A break is just what it is. A break. You return to it after the break is over. When I took a break today and decided to bake a muffin, I still had ideas come to me as I baked. That’s the thing about taking breaks. Brilliant ideas come to us when we’re idle. Breaks boost creativity, too. Why do you think the most creative and brilliant ideas come in the shower? Because creativity is supercharged when the body is relaxed.

Too much doing and not enough being is a catalyst for disaster.

You need breaks whether or not you enjoy the work you are doing. When you work, your mind makes the effort to help you finish the task at hand, but for a challenging task like creative writing, taking your mind off the task can keep you inspired. Breaks reduce stress and the need for a long recovery at the end of the day.

Working for long periods without taking a break leads to exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative.

When you do not schedule breaks from your passion, it turns into an obsession and obsessions aren’t healthy or cute and normally end in disaster. When my mind wanders and I keep losing my flow, I know it’s time for a break so I’m going to take one now.

Ghanaian-American. Certified Life Coach. Conscious Leadership. I write about the mystical and rebel against rigid beliefs. Shhh✨ https://linktr.ee/Kimberly.fosu

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