Are hobbies important, or distractions to what is ‘really’ important?
Blogging this post as someone who is married and has had hobbies that require years of energy, time and work, it’s impossible for me to say particular interests are healthy for relationships. It has been hard at times and I’ve had to manage my own desires with what is actually important. More importantly, was coming to the conclusion to what was really important to me.
I don’t say that likely, because it was very difficult. Even with my partner, discussing our relationship priorities, at the time I remember thinking our discussion needed to be quick because I had so many other things to do. That was the alarm bell and it made me conclude that I needed to change my lifestyle to include more time with the people I love.
In reality it was that someone loved me very much and missed me.
If I’m not there for someone who loves me, then what’s the point of them being there and feeling hurt? I was so busy giving other things my attention, things that were on top of full-time work which amounted to much the same as my hobby. So I was doing the same things outside of work.
My personality is a creative one, which for obvious reasons leads to lots of research and application learning. As a teenager moving into adulthood, such things are fine because you have hours and hours to learn, test, execute and refine. And by hours, I mean weeks, months and years of self-education full-time.
This learning was great for me, I found full-time work through it, travelled the world, met some amazing professionals and made many friends. It has given me control and freedom to create things from my imagination and that in part is a wonderful accomplishment. But when I got into a relationship, and then married and had children, it did impact my relationship. I didn’t slow down, quite the opposite, I took on more and more jobs, for friends and for myself.
In hindsight, these actions that I repeated many times must have communicated to my wife that I placed these interests more importantly than her. I had a desire to complete/create/interact because there was a feeling of self reward when doing so.
Imagine someone you hold in high esteem: your mother, father, sister, brother or a loved one. Now think about how you would feel if you tried to interact with them and they constantly put more interest in an object or subject, so much so it made you feel invisible.
That would hurt, no?
It would devalue the feeling of self-worth because contact and communication with someone you love and care about is the glue that holds things together. Their opinion matters, and how can it feel like it matters if it’s not shared. If your partner shares your enthusiasm for the interest and takes part then obviously the experience is a different matter entirely. The issue, I found, is when a hobby is solitary and absorbs private time from the relationship itself and becomes an obstacle to your responsibilities.
If you’re single then the responsibility isn’t as high and you have more time, but, when you’re in a relationship that time has to be shared and not just with your partner, but with their family and your family. Add children to the equation and the time you were so used to consuming into a hobby has significantly dwindled and that might feel frustrating or restrictive.
I still have my interests, but I manage them. Some are gone completely. There’s a time and a place I will get involved but I make sure I’m there for the people I know I care about.
The decision to throw yourself into something is fine as long as you understand the consequences. If you keep placing other things above people who care about you, you will eventually lose them. To them it will look like you’re not interested. A balance and distinction between hobby, work and life proves invaluable.
Many factors come into play if a hobby is healthy or not. It could be a business drive or an addiction?
Addiction, a word that conjures up many assumptions, but to know the difference one must be honest and understand what addiction really is. To be able to distinguish it from a pastime.
When the hobby stops being fun and becomes destructive to your personal life you need to ask yourself some questions that you may feel uncomfortable with.
When do you know you’ve crossed the line into addiction?
The following list has been referenced from netplaces
- You put the behavior above being with family and friends.
- A feeling of euphoria drives you to continually seek the desired behavior
- Mood swings may become apparent in connection with the behavior.
- You may obsess over the behavior, spending excessive amounts of time planning and engaging in the behavior.
- Expenditures connected with the behavior may damage your credit or deplete financial reserves, even to the point of bankruptcy.
- Tolerance is built up around the behavior. In other words, you will feel the need for more and more of the activity to get the same “high” feeling.
- Your job or schoolwork may suffer because of more time and focus going toward the addictive behaviour.
Should any of the above list feel familiar then what is the harm in talking to someone about clarifying it? Ignored, long-term the person that could suffer is you.
Any hobby can amount to an addiction or a distraction from the things that matter most. Some hold the scars and have survived, whilst others have lost the things that are most important to them.
The message is to realise the consequences of a hobby and know when it’s something much more, to do something about it before irreparable damage sets in. And if the damage is already there, then not to sit on the problem but find the inner strength to get help.
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