You Aren’t Obligated To Do Anything


The wisest and most loving piece of advice I was ever told was this: “You are always in choice.”

It came during a time of my life that I was able to hear it, even though I didn’t quite buy into the truth of the statement right away.

I can see you rolling your eyes reading that statement because when I told a group of ladies this exact phrase, I saw many rolling of eyes. But I share this piece of advice with you because embracing this truth yourself is one of the surest ways to love yourself and your life.

Yes, my darling, I know that there are so many things we say we HAVE TO do. We have to make dinner and do the laundry. We have to go to work and pay the bills. We have to get our children on the bus to school and deal with dozens of other obligatory pieces of our day.

The real truth is this: you don’t HAVE TO do anything. You have a choice.

Yes, my dear, there are consequences to skipping things, like not paying the electric bill or not doing the laundry. Some of the consequences are more painful than others.

We say yes to things because we feel obligated, even when we want to say no. We don’t want to bake a hundred cupcakes for the PTA, but we feel like we have to, so we say yes. Saying no would make us feel guilty or as if we didn’t care about our child’s school or as if we weren’t as good a mother as the other PTA moms.

The truth is, you can choose to not make those cupcakes. And you can choose to simply say “No” without any explanations.

We say yes to all those things because we buy into the idea that we prove our worth by being busy and trying to be perfect. And to ease the feelings of all that we tell ourselves we don’t have a choice. Now, I won’t get off on the details of busy-as-a-badge-of-honor and how perfectionism is about feelings of worth and fear and love.

Those everyday parts of living are also a choice.

You can choose to not make dinner tonight, which means that you either don’t eat or have to go out. Choosing not to do laundry means that you have to either buy more clothes, wear dirty clothes, or go naked. Choosing not to get the kids on the bus to school means that you either have to drive them to school or that they don’t go to school that day. And there are consequences if the kids miss too many days of school, they fall behind and excessive missed days can lead to them being considered truant.

The belief that life is full of shoulds and have-tos stands in the way of your happiness.

Seeing everything you do as an obligation blocks you from loving your life.

I know intimately how agonizing it feels to be in a relationship that is in no way loving, yet feel that we don’t have a choice to leave. I understand how frustrating it is to be in a job that feels like a dead-end. I know that these are the kinds of situations that make us feel as if we don’t have a choice.

Yet, the truth is, we do have a choice. Albeit a very painful and complicated choice to make.

And, let me be frank, my dear, choosing to stay in a situation you aren’t happy in is also a choice.

I don’t deny that many of us have responsibilities.

Being a parent is a responsibility that leads to a lot of feelings of “have to”. Having an elderly parent can have us feeling squeezed, which is why they call it the sandwich generation. Being in a relationship means that sometimes we spend our time with their siblings, some of which we may not connect with.

And again, we can choose to not tend to those responsibilities. Yes, not tending those responsibilities can lead to uncomfortable feelings: guilt, sadness, frustration. But again, there is always a choice.

What I’m going to say is this: my darling, if you want to create a life you love, then reminding yourself that you have a choice in everything you do will shift how you feel about all those things you do. Changing our mindset shifts how we feel. The reminder that we are obligated to do nothing and choosing to take action opens us up to more within our own life.

Darling, when you remind yourself that you are at choice, those “have-to’s” suddenly become simply a part of life. And, my dear, choosing to to act from a place of service and love rather than from a place of obligation is a way to actively love the people in our lives.

The best thing about choice, my dear, is this: you also get to choose to pursue your desires.

When you look at each action you take as a choice and an act of love, you get to be happy. This little piece of wisdom is truly a path for creating the kind of life you desire on your terms.

Love yourself and your life by learning that you are always at choice.

So… what are you doing with all of these choices? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originated at Attract the One.

About the author

Debra Smouse

Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, author and life coach.

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