Kin Blog

Is Passion your Poison?

March 15, 2019
By Krista Nicol

Every year, Kin Canada receives written submissions from each district for consideration in the National Quill Award competition. In 2018, Life Member (LM) Corie Brand submitted a thought-provoking piece about the difference between harmonious and obsessive passion and how one helps and one hurts us in our personal, professional, and volunteer lives. LM Corie was selected as our winner and we are pleased to have her permission to share her insight with others! Her submission is below.

There is no doubt, in the family of Kin, passion runs deep. It could even be considered a fundamental of the association. Passion, by one definition, can be defined as our connection to activities that we enjoy (or even love), find important, and in which one invests time and energy. Our passions help in defining who we are and with this, also work to shape our value systems. Passion, in how it helps to shape and drive us, is a fantastic base in which to grow and prosper. But is there a dark side? Is passion your poison?  

All people come together with different life experience and values, passion itself proposes the existence of two subtypes: harmonious and obsessive*. Basically, not all passion is helpful or even healthy. Harmonious passion is associated with positive emotion and inherent joy which works to propel one to greater heights. However, as our mind moves between our conscious and the unconscious states, we then move between periods of positive and negative feelings of self-esteem and self-importance. With this, darker forces can emerge. Negative emotions, impulse reactions, and the ego/self-esteem associated with obsessive passion is a natural part of our being. In short, there is a constantly fluctuating balance of obsessive and harmonious passion within ourselves and, as such, in our relationships and clubs. It is a completely natural part of being human. Considering this, do your passions create increased satisfaction in your day to day life, in your relationships, and improve your connectedness to others? Do they push you to develop your skills?  Alternatively, do you, at times, feel the need to argue your viewpoints? Do you find that sometimes you get so frustrated in conversations that you raise your voice, feel like you need to align people to your view, or even terminate the conversation or friendship over the differing views? If these things have happened to you or if you have observed them in your personal and/or club relationships, passion may indeed be your poison. 

In Kin, we clearly seek a harmonious stance in passion. But have you ever been in a room where people have been so invested in their stance that the emotions take over the conversation? Conversations that take on the negative tones and/or lead to insults/defamation ultimately negatively affect the health and wellness of our clubs and membership. People can have a strong desire to express their opinions and may hold the same desires for the association but may have a difficult time listening to other views and ideas that might not align with their own. People with high levels of obsessive passion are typically committed, focused, and dedicated but are often inflexible, excessively and compulsively committed, and may find it difficult to disengage. Harmonious passion allows for people to be completely present and immersed in the activity. It creates the flow between members that is conducive to creativity and development.   

When passion moves into the obsessive patterns, our bodies begin to react on an emotional level. As soon as the body begins to act emotionally, you are actually moving out of your cortex (thinking brain) and into the more primitive areas of the brain. Quite simply put, the more emotional we become, the less we are able to think. At that point, we are more likely to act in ways that are detrimental to the relationships around us. With these factors at play, we may move to what could be described as "operating below the line". When we act below the line, our lives become circumstance-driven. This might come out in a variety of ways: laying blame, creating excuses, denial, talking about others instead of dealing with the conflict directly, and shaming. It might also come out in quieter ways such as acting like a martyr, clubs developing cliques, and less than supportive non-verbals like eye-rolling and sighs. These behaviors don’t solve issues, promote responsibility, nor do they lead to a positive environment. They will, however, cause frustration and negativity in the group. Quite often, if one set of individuals are operating below the line, others will also adopt the mal-adaptive behaviors in retaliation. If you are acting from a place of emotion, you may not even realize you are operating below the line. By choosing to act above the line we take responsibility for our actions and move away from proving points or proving ourselves into showing that you have the ability to respond. This move to a proactive stance can alter how we move within the flow of a relationship or club, and allow for the growth of harmonious passion.  

Next time you are feeling passionate about something consider your emotions. If you are fired up, remember that science dictates you are not in your thinking brain. Your history or influence in the association may allow you to get your way but could also prevent others from opportunities for growth. Be wary of passion leading to a shutdown of ideas and ultimately a lack of satisfaction in the relationships in the association. Take an opportunity to look at your behavior when you are not in a "passionate" stance and evaluate if you were operating above or below the line.  Examine your mindset and take opportunities to be in the moment over proving a point. Create opportunities for awareness through increased education around self-regulation and grounding.  Never allow passion to be an excuse for treating someone badly. Passion can be a gift, don't let it be your poison.

Corie Brand
District 4 Life Member- Mayerthorpe Kinettes