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being intentional: CHecking your optional obligations

Ryan Sheehan in Portugal, writing about optional obligations and loyalty to yourself

You know when you are going through the motions of life, and it is much simpler to just nod, go along with it, and then beat yourself up later?

I think for a long time, part of my "keep your head above water" tactic was to simply do as I was told. No "No's", no pushback - I did not have the capacity to stand up for what I wanted, if I even knew what I wanted.

From the various trips to Ottawa, testimonies, reporting, whatever you may have over the past few years, I always come back to the concept of selling my soul. A lot of the decisions I have made have been for the "greater good", for "the cause", to "move the needle forward" with little regard for what I actually want.

The irony is that I think (and most people probably do) that I am a person who does stand on their own two feet and am loyal to myself more than average person in life.

How often do we check in on our "obligations"? How many optional tasks, situations, etc. do we take on that we consider obligations?

The word OBLIGATION has been pounding my head for weeks - societal obligations, personal life obligations, work obligations, internal obligations.

I read an article that said to write down everything you feel obligated to do whether you think it's valid or not. For example, keeping up with this blog, to me, is an obligation set completely by myself - I have full autonomy over it living or dying, but I feel an obligation to do it (I also happen to love it). So I sat my ass down for a few hours and just wrote out every single obligation I felt in every category and pondered them. The second step of this article is to meticulously go through this list and only add back the things that bring value.

I am so guilty of just going through life and claiming to be "present" but really it's just ignorance. Lately, that ignorance has been on things I take on as obligations. It's easy to forget that we are adults and have autonomy over most parts of our life - again, guilty as charged!

Every inauthentic obligation that I take on, to me, feels like selling my soul a little bit. The purpose of life is to give back, have relationships, of course, but where is the loyalty to yourself? What is your relationship to yourself when following through on optional "obligations"?

My intention moving forward is to consistently check in - is this a real obligation, something I want to do, or something I feel obligated to do but is truly optional? The last few weeks of loyalty to myself has really shown its value - removing or avoiding situations that felt inauthentic or even inappropriate come with resounding rewards.

So, what are your obligations? Are you obligated or is it truly optional? No more selling our souls!




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