Obligations are an expected part of life. We take them on when we feel responsible and caring. However, obligations can drain us of our purpose and energy. They can pile up on us and drag us down.

An obligation is an unwelcome chore and a drain when we do anything that is not right for us in the moment. For example, I used to feel obligated to call my mother. I felt that it was my responsibility to call her, even when I was engaged in some other activity that was important to me. No matter what, I’d call her every couple of days, without fail. One time she answered and said jokingly, “You again.” It occurred to me that my mom is a very busy person, with a full life. She has four children, several grandchildren, countless friends and other relatives who call her regularly. She didn’t mind that I called, and enjoyed talking to me. But she didn’t need to hear from me every other day. I had assumed an obligation that was not necessary or real. I had pulled myself out of my appropriate activities to do something that I thought was expected.

I also realized that I wasn’t much fun to talk to when I called her out of obligation. Often I was busy and felt slightly resentful that I had to call. It was all made up. I didn’t have to call. I needed to do what I was doing and release myself of the imagined obligation. Now I call her when I feel like it, or have something to ask or tell her. Interestingly, it’s usually every two or three days. I’m more pleasant to talk to (I hope), and have more to offer, because I’m looking forward to talking to her.

I had another situation come up with one of my coaching clients. The client called me without an appointment during the middle of the day and immediately began talking about a problem she was having. I cared about her and felt obligated to help her, so I dropped the project I was working on to talk to her. After 30 minutes of listening to her and attempting to help her, I felt seriously stressed. Several people had tried to call me about the project I’d been working on. Time was running short and I was becoming stressed and drained. However, I felt obligated to keep talking, and satisfied knowing that I was helping this person in need.

A week later this same person called, and the incident repeated itself; and again a few days later. She had the same questions and same needs. I wasn’t helping her after all. Instead I was encouraging co-dependence. I wasn’t allowing this client to help herself and use the information that I had given her during her last session. What’s more, she wasn’t honoring my time. Energetically the time was not working in her favor because it was a stressful time for me to be coaching.

Are your obligations real or imagined? How often do you feel self-important and overly responsible for other people’s happiness? When an obligation becomes a burden, it is an ineffective use of energy. Either you’re doing the wrong action, or you’re doing it at the wrong time, or for the wrong reasons. An obligation is a joy and an opportunity when it is appropriate. I schedule several coaching sessions each week. These obligations are blessings and not burdens.

You drain yourself whenever you do something, which isn’t best for you in the moment. If you give your power and love because you feel you have to, not because it feels right at the time, you martyr yourself. Self-sacrifice weakens you, and rarely helps someone else. Look at the obligations that you take on unnecessarily. If you do what needs to be done in the moment, there is no drain. You’re happier and more effective

Copyright Deborah Hill 2007.

Author's Bio: 

Deborah Hill has been actively involved in the healing & coaching of others throughout her adult life; first as a Registered Nurse and Nurse-Midwife, and finally as an intuitive coach, author, speaker, teacher, energetic therapist and artist. Her extensive life experiences include 4 degrees in science and psychology, 18 years as an entrepreneur running her own business, and raising her wonderful, grown daughter as a single parent.

Deborah has extensively studied many forms of natural and traditional healing, as well as counseling, coaching and spiritual disciplines with several teachers over the past 35 years.