Do you live your life under the weight of obligation?

Because I know people who do.

If this strikes a chord, it’s not with judgement I speak but rather with love and care about you and your heart. We only get one life, maybe it’s time to cultivate a mindset of freedom…

I became heavily involved in church throughout my teens, helping run a youth group, working with troubled teens, singing up the front at church and off a truck at the top of Queen Street… With that came a lot of responsibility and I’m sure obligation, although I couldn’t see it back then.

I then broke away and did the big O.E. I still remember sitting on the plane out of here at 19 thinking, heck…it’s just down to God and me now. No one else overlooking, judging and weighing in on my decisions, no parents to advise me, and no person to fall back on…just me and God.

So, I went and had the time of my life! I made some awesome choices, and some very poor ones, but they were all mine to make. No one was the wiser except me (yes, and God).

The freedom that came with that short 4-month O.E. was priceless for what it taught me about the world, myself, my faith, my freedom to choose, and of course, my family and friendships.

My life has since flowed with freedom I can’t describe, where I’ve lived in my faith and trusted in the journey it’s led me on. Through it all, I’ve learned to listen, weigh up, and choose. Always with integrity, my values and my love for others in mind.

BUT, at certain points I’ve still suffered with the weight of obligation.

I know, of course, you’ll likely have responsibilities and commitments that you feel you can’t move out from under, and you may have others absolutely depending on you – therein lies the rub. I get it.

To choose you or others? That’s the bugger – as we have an inbuilt siren that tells us to ensure others are cared for first – yet a very wise counsellor (yes, a counsellor, I highly recommend them!) once told me self-care is not selfish.

So, how do you cultivate a mindset of freedom in the face of obligation?

At that time, my home life consisted of me, my partner Mick, my daughter, my elderly mum and Mick’s son. I was struggling as Mum’s needs overcame me. I ended up in tears one day as I came up the drive, not ready to feel the full weight of what my evenings brought. So I saw a counsellor to help me through it, and she taught me about setting boundaries, as I apparently had none.

That lack of boundaries kept me tied to obligation rather than speaking out to what I needed at that time.

And so, I went to work setting boundaries around me, that made me much safer emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I started to say what I could do and what I needed, and back came my sense of freedom. I figured out how to deal with my responsibilities and take care of the people I love, whilst making it work for me. It’s fair to say I didn’t get it right first time. Setting boundaries takes practice for sure, but it’s well worth it.

I no longer felt obligated.

If you find yourself thinking or saying any of these things: I don’t really want to go. I have to do this or that. They just turned up. I said no, but they didn’t listen. It’s a clear sign you don’t have appropriate boundaries in place to protect yourself. The good news is that now you know, you can take action. We’ll dig deeper into setting boundaries in a future newsletter.

When you set boundaries in your life, not only will your relationships benefit, but you’ll start to attract in people who are magnetised to your freedom and increased joy.

I’ve had others set boundaries with me without love, and that doesn’t feel so great. So, if you’re about to start, make sure you do it lovingly. A change of state in a relationship can hurt, so be gentle.

In my business, I say, “I GET to work tomorrow”, as opposed to I HAVE to work tomorrow. I choose to choose and recognise the freedom this brings. I no longer feel obliged in my relationships, making them a lot more honest and transparent.

That weight of obligation looks super heavy, and I wonder if it’s worth it or if you’d be better off cultivating a mindset of freedom? Living a life of freedom!

It’s not that you need to shun those who you previously felt obligated to, just break the shackles that bind you to them and see what happens… Decide today that you deserve choice, you deserve freedom, and if you can find some pocket within your existence for that, then give it a whirl.