Passion and obsession, what's the difference?

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Louise Hay
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Passion and obsession, what's the difference?

Passion and obsession are two realities that require commitment and effort. But while passion helps us grow and improve, obsession has a negative influence on our life. 

Last update: October 01, 2020

Passion and obsession are two very close, but profoundly different realities. The first corresponds to an intense flow of emotional energy that leads us to overcome our limits, to make efforts out of the ordinary; the second paralyzes the will, or rather, sets great limits.



They are, at the same time, two contiguous dimensions. In many cases we start with a passion and we find ourselves, unwittingly, on the ground of obsession. It could be said that obsession is a kind of excess of passion.

In short, it is plausible that they are the two sides of the same coin. Both subjective realities cause great emotional involvement, maximum attention and concentration. Nonetheless, the first is constructive, the second is destructive.

"Passions are like winds, necessary to give movement to everything, although they are often the cause of hurricanes."

-Bernard Le Bouvier de Fontenelle-

Passion and obsession

In many cases, passion and obsession follow a line of continuity dictated by external factors. Usually it all starts with an enjoyable activity, which soon causes us intense gratification. So rewarding that we are passionate about it.

Passion drives us to dedicate a lot of time and effort to this activity, in order to satisfy gradually increasing parameters and requirements for perfection. Then comes the results and the recognition for the effort, and this is where the problems can begin.

External validation can also work as a negative factor. What was previously done spontaneously and for the simple pleasure of doing it, now becomes the activity of seeking a precise answer in others. You no longer enjoy the process, but the result. At this point we enter the boundaries of obsession.



The labyrinths of obsession

When an interest becomes an obsession - thanks to the positive response we get from the results - pleasure turns into anxiety. We begin to depend on others and this worries and stresses us. Studies have shown that addiction can develop to such an extent that even unethical actions can be induced.

Since the outcome of the actions and the approval of others are elements that we cannot control, obsessive passions are often accompanied by restlessness and frustration. The addiction to validation is not only emotional but, as has been shown, also becomes physical.

This excessive preoccupation with the approval of others has been proven to flood the body with dopamine and with this a kind of dependence is sealed. This, of course, reinforces the obsession and transports everything to another plane. Now there is fatigue, even wear and, at the same time, uncertain results. It even comes to the need to cheat in order to get the approval of others.

Dependence on external approval

It would be illusory to think that we can completely disregard the opinion of others. Perhaps only those who are spiritually highly evolved can do this. Ordinary mortals depend, more or less, on external approval.

Who wouldn't like to receive an award or recognition for what they do? Even in everyday life we ​​feel a subtle satisfaction when we receive a Like on social networks, new friend requests arrive or we see the number of followers increase.


The secret to not falling into the clutches of obsession, and therefore of the approval of others, is to stop and think. When we get a Like for something we wrote without big claims, we understand that the important thing is to have expressed a thought. The rest is something more that exists today, who knows tomorrow.


True success is enjoying what you do or being consistent without fear or anxiety about the outcome. It is not easy to free ourselves from the motivation of external responses, but we must work steadily to avoid falling into this trap. Let us be guided by passion, not obsession.

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