Obligations and Expectations.

TracyObligations and expectations are something everyone accumulates over time.  They can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.  They start to layer themselves on us until we start to feel like our lives are being directed by everyone but us.  Family obligations are one thing, such as celebrations and doing things for other family members because we want to, but it’s another story when acquaintances start to guilt you into doing what they think is something you should do, because they feel obligated to.  People do this when they don’t know how to say no.

With great friendships and true love there are no obligations or expectations.  Fear is full of obligations.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of what people will think if you say “no”.  Fear of being a minority.  Fear of not being accepted if you don’t play along with the politics.  Fear of being judged.  Fear is a horrible emotion that leads you further away from who you truly are.  Fear nothing and you will make the right decisions.  Without fear you can live your life truthfully and authentically.  The next time someone puts their obligations onto you ask yourself  ” Is this really something I want to do?” If the answer is no then chances are it is an obligation trying to be put on you.

When I first started to see this happening in my life I was unsure of how to deal with it.  I finally just said “no”.  I stood back and looked at the person who was trying,  I will repeat trying, to put their obligations on to me.  I flat out refused to accept it.  People who over book themselves are really pro at putting their obligations on others.  If their doing it, so should you.  Soon their family and life gets overtaken by what they feel expected to do until they no longer have control over their own lives.  Family dinners get cancelled, the time they used to spend for themselves is gone because of the obligations they have accepted throughout the years.  It’s a Dominos Effect.

People in general these days are busier than ever, and there isn’t enough time in the day for everything they’re obligated to do.  In my opinion we need to get back to the basics and quit accepting more things to do.  We need to have our family be our priority and spend more quality time together.  We need to stop overbooking our kids and ourselves and start living our lives for us.

I am not certain whether it was an age thing with me in being able to say “no” or that I really just have my time and my family as a priority.  I think it’s a combination of both.  If we don’t start making changes, our family time will become a scheduled event marked on our calender along with everything else.  For many this is already the norm, but it’s never too late to reevaluate if your time is well spent or balanced.  Life is too short to have it filled with obligations we didn’t feel good about to begin with.

That’s just my opinion!  Comments are always Welcome !


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  • Francesco

    You have just echoed most of my life since I was a simple farm boy. I suppose it was part of the hard work & community ethic directed to me from my first generation immigrant parents. In my case it was not so much fear, as it was awareness that evolved into obligation. I had friends that had no community obligations & no outside interests or hobbies that took their do nothing time & I find them shallow. At times I feel too tired to address all of the “Yes obligations” that should have been “NO’s”…but I feel rather rich in my efforts, the experience I have and mostly the memories of giving without expectation… its not perfect, its just life.

  • Tracy Westerholm

    Great comment Thankyou ! To give without expectation in return is the only way! I agree that interests and hobbies make a well rounded individual but when these interest or hobbies are done because we feel obligated to, we are not richer for the experience because we are not giving ourself freely to the experience at hand. It becomes somewhat forced..

  • Laurie

    Hi Tracy….wow, I thought I would click on this just for fun, and who knew, but it was EXACTLY what I needed to read. It is really hard when you fall into a pattern or cycle where you feel overwhelmed by everything in your life – but when you stop and look at it all, it isn’t really all stuff in MY life, but what is in other people’s lives. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it becomes about fear – for me it is the fear of losing the people I love, letting them down. And guilt….but how does one learn to deal with the guilt. And let it go? Any suggestions….

  • Tracy Westerholm

    I can only tell you what worked for me and that was finally standing up and doing what was best for me and my family. It’s hard to please everyone but at the end of the day you need to find balance. If they love you they will understand your doing what you feel is best. Sometimes those around us just need to see things work before they accept it, believe me I know that much for sure!! When expectations and obligations are lifted you find yourself doing things more because you WANT to not because you have to or feel obligated to and sometimes it’s just that simple. Tracy

  • Maggie

    No. It is a sentence. Nothing has to come after that. It is great to use when setting personal boundaries. Although, just because we say no does not mean that others will stop bashing into our boundaries – some people are masters at it. Then we have to say no again, and again, and again.

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