As a mini example from the old republic game:
there is a part of a very early group mission where you have to decide whether or not to vent an engineering section and the people in it to save the ship.
Lets say your a republic trooper with debt to the republic. If you chose to vent the compartment, you might lower your debt to the republic because you saved a cruiser full of people and equipment. However you might gain some obligation to the dark side.
Alternatively, if you freed a bunch of hutt slaves you might lower your dark side obligation, but increase an obligation to the hutts.
As plot hooks dark side obligation takes the form of imperial attention, rogue Jedi, and "principled" freedom fighters. Some one may have caught wind of your reputation, or a criminal syndicate might think you're the right party/person for a job.
Eventually, if a force user turns, the obligation flips, and increases when you ignore the bad and focus on the good.
In this way, tracked as obligation, it's easier to set up guidelines for how characters gain/lose the influence, and gives the GM a lot of narrative control.