I feel Obliged! Living with Energy Debt
How often do you say: I have to do this, I have to go there, I can’t not do this, or what will people think?
Have you ever stopped to question the society we live in today and what it does to our mind, body, and soul? When you think about it, we live in a society that’s made to tire us out by making us think we are weak if we can’t keep up with the “go, go, go” mindset. As a result, we are set up to live lives that deplete our energy by causing us to be in a constant state of stress. When living with long term stress we are using up stored energy (the energy of tomorrow if you will), and if we do not properly rest and take care of ourselves then we end up creating mental debt because we are using up more energy than we are able to replenish for the wellbeing of our mind, body, and soul.
The reason we often find ourselves in a position of constant stress, creating mental debt or see so many people experience burnout is tied in part to obligation. We feel obliged to keep up with the “go, go, go” mindset, and to meet certain standards because that’s what is praised and normalized. For example, if you’re a working mom you’re expected to excel at your job, to be even more “present” than people without children to show that nothing is holding you back; however, you might also have meals to cook, need to clean, run errands, provide help with homework, drive the kids to extra-curricular activities, and attend PTA meetings to be active in your kids’ education. Being able to do all those things and more puts a great deal of stress on the mind as it necessitates a lot of non-stop energy; the long-term effects of constant stress on the body is what can be dangerous. Since this is the reality for many, we most likely can all relate and sympathize with the need for change.
We need to change the narrative in society to stop normalizing the idea that we are supposed to always be on the go, to be agile and to multitask. In reality, multitasking spreads your energy which makes it even more demanding to complete one task and not affect the quality. I think we need to normalize having off days and saying no; there’s a difference between pushing yourself to work hard and learn something new compared to pushing yourself to exhaustion because you feel like you always need to be doing something to show you’re a successful person. A failure, whether it be at work, school or in a relationship will not be the end of the world, it’s the pressure we place on ourselves because we feel obligated to maintain a certain standard that makes it seem like it is. Instead, the real focus should be on wellbeing, but how do we tame the nagging feeling of obligation? Maybe it’s by sharing more and actually seeing the people around us—recognizing commonality leads to compassion.
Rising cortisol levels for short intense moments is our body’s natural defendant against perceived danger. However, today we often fail to snap out of what is meant to be a momentary response to stressors because we can’t shake the feeling of obligation to look a certain way, to meet specific requirements for success, to have a high paying job, to own a house, a car, have a family, perform at work, workout, look fit, and always look presentable. When we feel like we must strive for perfection, it’s hidden obligation, it’s the reason we feel we must pay a price to make others happy to be happy ourselves. However, to pay that price we are stomping on our own wellbeing and consequently setting ourselves up for burnout. Hence, develop a strong sense of self-awareness to know what triggers you, how you react to stress and stressors, and know when you need to stop before you break.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-improvement and practicing discipline, we need that, it’s part of what drives progress, but haven’t we taken it too far? Is there really something wrong with saying you have too much on your plate and re-prioritizing or saying no to something you don’t want to do?
It’s okay to take on a lot, but we are all built differently and have different capacities to handle stress for varied lengths of time, which is why self-awareness and compassion for ourselves, and others, is essential. What I’m emphasizing is taking care of yourself along the way so that the stress you experience doesn’t constantly deplete your energy.
Put differently, you need time for wellness, which means slowing down to listen to your body and finding a balance between being and doing. Often times we need to set boundaries so that we can keep doing while setting aside time to just be and give our bodies time to recuperate and process before we task them with more. It can be comforting to know that we all have power, the kind that comes from knowing what we can control, which is what we do and how we react to what’s happening to/around us.
Next time you feel pressured or stressed try being YOU unapologetically. It is definitely easier said than done but shifting your focus to yourself really changes the pressure you will feel from obligations.
20 thoughts on “I feel Obliged! Living with Energy Debt”
I feel like I’m always on the go and rushing things, but I need to calm down and take it easy. I’m trying my best to improve my self care.
Being aware is the first step! Stick with it and remember you are number one.
Such a great article, very informative. You’re absolutely correct that we need to be more self-aware and check in with ourselves first. We cannot allow others to call all of the shots in our lives, so setting boundaries is likely the best course of action. Very interesting topic, thank you for sharing.
Jay | Eager Books
Glad you enjoyed it.
Great post! There is definitely always something to learn even while remaining true to who you are. Enjoyed reading.
Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)
Yes, it is a reality, we are in a constant go, go, go; especially us, moms. We have multiple obligations and want to be on top of everything all the time. We have to take a break to relax and stop being so strict with ourselves. Thanks for this post!
Sometimes knowing we are not alone in the feelings we have can help release some of the pressure we put on ourselves.
I really like this line: “Put differently, you need time for wellness, which means slowing down to listen to your body and finding a balance between being and doing.” That’s a very good lesson.
Great article and I talk about the same things in my training. Thanks for sharing
So glad you enjoyed it. Happy to hear you also share this in your trainings.
having to say no is a problem to me, i’m always looking to find balance in my life to be more productive
It’s tough to say no, especially to the people we hold dear. Just remember you are only one person. Give yourself permission to make you a priority.
This was such a great post. Sometimes I forget to give myself grace in this department. Knowing your limits and communicating when it’s necessary to take a step back is so important.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Recognition is the first step to positive change.
Yes, Yes, and Yes! This is such a valid feeling, and I’m so glad that you’re bringing light to it. I’m always feeling trapped between the “should dos” and “can dos” with the time and season of life that I’m in. Believe it or not, my body just sent me the clearest message this last week about the need to rest and not try to do it all- suffered from a massive neck and shoulder strain that left me practically immobilized for 4 days! What a clear message to tell me that I’m not doing myself any good by going at the rate I was.
Yes the body has a way of sending us signals to let us know we need to slow down and reevaluate. Hopefully you are back to feeling good and are making those positive changes. Stick with it! You are number one.
Excellent post/blog. Just the title is right on by reflecting how l felt a couple of years ago and still sometimes. This post reminded me to choose myself first in order to be able to help, give, be there for my family,friends and others. Thanks for sharing!
I’m so happy to hear you were able to recognize you needed to make you a priority. It’s a continuous struggle we all have but many don’t ever realize it! Keep fighting for you.
I truly believe this is something we all should read once a month. It’s an important thing to consider and should serve as a reminder. You’re absolutely right! Thank you for this!
Glad you enjoyed it.