The Spirit In Which We Do Things…

Obligation Breeds Obligation…Joy Breeds Joy

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The spirit in which you do things is often more important than the act itself.

When we do things out of obligation we tend to over think and overwork the activity. There is typically a negative undercurrent as the obligation narrows thinking and ultimately creates an actual aversion toward the activity.

For most of us, this has a tendency to lead us into feelings of entrapment and anxiety. It fosters a deficiency in creativity for the activity and our internal perfectionistic scripts become an overbearing dialogue of fixing, doing, and the responsibility thereof. We can do the exact activity with a heart of openness and creativity, curiosity and wonderment and the process itself would breed those attributes.

There is nothing like a spirit of obligation to make us feel trapped, which lends itself to a feeling of helplessness, hopelessly involved in something with no way out and with no escape, exhaustion prevails. Perhaps this tendency to overwork at any undertaking is rooted in an episode from the past where we had something to prove to ourselves or others.

Perhaps it was in a school setting where we felt bullied into something we didn’t want to do or we did it for the purpose of someone else’s expectations. This internal bully may have actually helped us achieve things in life, but after years of internal bullying, the script is old worn out and not of great service any more. It only serves to create exhaustion and anxiety.

To overwork, overdo, overachieve without honoring the process is to give our power to the internal bully. In this way, we have learned in order to accomplish anything we must approach it with perfectionism, judgment, and overwork it through obligation. Where exactly is the fun, joy, or frivolity in that? How does our diva (the PFC) fit in here? It doesn’t. Our creativity, joy, and frivolity have become immobilized in the monument of obligation.

Can you guess which part of the brain this thickens, grows, and expands in volume and density by exercising obligation and perfectionism? You guessed it, the Limbic System!

This part of our brain is the governor when it comes to polishing and perfecting our stress responses.  These patterns can lead us into feeling as if we would like to step out, hide away and leave our lives. And even the very effort of trying to do it differently and rid life of these obligations sometimes feel they end in defeat.

Dr. Mark Williams of the University of Oxford, author of several books, and along With colleagues John D. Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto) he developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy. He describes this part of our mind as the “doing mode”…always trying to fix, accomplish, and achieve. In effect, achieving increases the entanglement of the obligation all that much more. Fixing through this doing mode is not the answer.   The doing mode sets us up for failure before we even begin, precisely because most often, there is no fix to the majority of our perceived problems. And even if there is a fix, we are in such a state of overwhelming mind maze that we wouldn’t even recognize a solution if it were staring us in the face.

The practice of awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations is one step closer to freedom as we begin to just BE without any effort to fix. This works just like a muscle. The more we practice, the more precise and polished this skill will become.

What you practice, think, and develops grows. The spirit in which we do things is so very important. Obligation and perfectionism breed more of that, but the good news is that joy and creativity, and all the best self attributes one could think of also breeds more of the same.

Obligation breeds obligation & Joy breeds joy! Therein lie the freedom and choice. 

Peace In~ Peace Out

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