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De-Construct This: Obligation

June 11, 2013

photo_vortexRecently I  listened to an interview by Allison Crow. In it, she spoke about the Energy of Obligation vs. the Energy of Inspiration.

In her talk, she described “obligation” as another word for debt, and how when we do things out of obligation, we are actually living from a place of scarcity and creating energetic debt in our lives. As a result, our lives are unbalanced, and we become out of alignment with who we are, our values, and what is really important to us.

The opposite of this is “inspiration.” Living from this place is seeing & experiencing the abundance of life, which allows us to make inspired choices—those that honor our values and priorities. Work doesn’t feel like work. We do activities and take actions because we like to do them, not because we have to do them. We make choices because they feel good.

These perspectives of obligation and inspiration have led me to delve deeper into two things: First, the relationship of obligation and choice; and second, how this shows up in our lives.


Obligation is a choice. Period.

I believe we are always at choice. There is absolutely nothing in life that we have to do. Rather, we choose to do it. (Yes, even the stuff you don’t think is a choice is actually a choice—like parenting and going to work every day.)

This means, too, that if we are living from the obligation, we are choosing that for ourselves.

I know some of you may be having a few palpitations right now, as you sit there thinking, “But we can’t just have this free and easy life doing only what we want. That’s selfish and completely unrealistic. Being a responsible person in this world means we have obligations to fulfill.” <– Actually, that line of thinking is a perspective, not an absolute.

Here’s a different perspective: We can consciously choose the responsibilities and obligations we take on. I’m not saying that we will never have obligations in life; what I am saying is that they are not automatic or by default.

The difference between these perspectives goes back to the energy piece that Allison Crow talked about. The first perspective is one of “life happens to me,” and it acts as a vortex, sucking all of your energy into taking action and doing activities because you think you have to do them. The more you chase your so-called obligations, the more they multiply…and the less joy and fulfillment you find in your life.

The second perspective comes from an intentional and empowered place. It is you leading your life, not letting your life lead you. When you choose your obligations, you show up for them because you WANT to do them, and there is an inspiration behind them that multiplies your energy rather than depletes it. From this place you can let go of things that do not reflect your core values and top priorities, so that you have energy for the things that ARE aligned with the life you want to create.


Obligation or Inspiration: Where do you spend most of your time?

One of the ways the perspectives of obligation and inspiration show up in our lives is through our self-talk. The message-reel that goes through our head when faced with doing something or making a decision is a key indicator as to the place we’re living from. Namely, it looks like this:

Energy of Obligation

  • “I need to…”
  • “I should…”
  • “I have to…”

Energy of Inspiration

  • “I want to…”
  • “I get to…”

Say each of those out loud. Do you feel the difference? Obligation actually feels exhausting versus the refreshment of inspiration. There is heaviness and powerlessness to the words of obligation, whereas inspiration evokes lightness…and freedom in choice.

Obligation = The language of playing small.
Inspiration = The language of living huge.


I have a challenge for you.

This week, start building an awareness of where you spend most of your time and energy—in obligation or inspiration. Notice how frequently you say, “I have to” “I should” or “I need to” do something versus the number of times you say, “I want to” or “I get to” do it.

If it’s lop-sided toward the have-to’s and the should’s, go deeper and look at the intention behind these activities. Ask yourself the following:
– What values and priorities am I not honoring by living from a place of obligation?
– What am I allowing to be created in my life instead?
– What are some specific ways I can be more in alignment with who I am and the life I want to live?


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2013 11:11 am

    Love this post – thanks for sharing some great food for thought 🙂


  1. Life De-Constructed

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