You Create Your Own Obligations
We’re constantly bombarded with all kinds of obligations, from the ones we have to face at work, to those at home, such as having food prepared every day. In the demanding society in which we live, we have to be attractive, hard-working, always on top of things, good parents, etc.
Obligations are the expectations that we have to fulfill if we want to feel like better people. But think about it for a moment: who imposes your obligations on you? Who are those expectations really coming from?
How many times have you been obligated to do something you didn’t like because it was something you “should” do? The word “should” is a part of many of our irrational beliefs, and it implies a hidden need that must be fulfilled if we want to be happy, or at least not sad.
Thoughts that point to obligations
Disturbing emotions usually arise because of an obligation. As cognitive psychology points out, what we think is the direct cause of how we feel, and in turn, how we feel influences how we think. Thus, if we feel anxious, depressed, or angry, we’re probably creating an endless amount of obligations in our mind.
When obligations are directed towards ourselves, we think that we should be a certain way instead of another.
Obligations directed towards others, and the world in general, result in anger. Wanting other people, or life, to fulfill our own personal criteria is as unrealistic as trying to make the sky turn magenta.
Every obligation hides a false need within it, which we banish from our minds in order to feel more complete.
Swap “I should” for “I’d like to”
If we’re able to modify our inner dialogue to fit better with the world the way it is, we’ll find a way to make ourselves happier. And this change shouldn’t just be a verbal one; we have to believe in what we’re saying and act accordingly until our unhealthy negative emotions turn into healthy ones.
All the obligations that are demanded of us are imposed by ourselves, even if we think there’s no way to escape them. If you think about it, nobody is putting a gun to your head to make you live the life you have.
Everything we do is the result of a personal decision, and that’s why the only thing that has to change is ourselves.
Nobody made you choose the life you have today. Rather, it’s the result of a handful of decisions that you made freely.
In order to not feel so obligated and anxious, start by changing your inner dialogue. Every time the word “should” appears in your mind, quickly exchange it for “I’d prefer” or “I’d like” without falling into the trap of demands. And finally, the words “I’d like” should be accompanied by, “but the world isn’t going to end if this doesn’t go the way I want it to,” or “if it doesn’t work out this way, I’ll have other options.”
With a bit of practice and internalization, you’ll start to feel much more peaceful in such a demanding world.