Calendars, to-do lists, deadlines, and upcoming events have so often encased me in knots of tension, anxiety, and frustration. After consulting them, I’m quickly overwhelmed with the obligation of it all.
- I see a bunch of must-dos.
- Dread takes over.
- I’m contending with resistance.
- I’m searching for willpower or seeking justification for the escape route I find I’m taking.
If you find yourself wrestling against the burden of the commitments you’ve made, you might find something useful from my experience with this Perspective Shift. Yes, on any given day I can find myself in this all-too-familiar script. But I experience the dread and resistance far less frequently when I embrace this Perspective Shift.
Essential Two Thoughts:
The helpful Perspective Shift rests on two thoughts that I accept and I’m working to make deep-seated beliefs.
- Everything I do today I choose. This thought generates energy. I get to choose! Choice restores control. Choice creates possibilities. Together, control and possibilities, melt the dread and loosen the resistance.
- There’s nothing I HAVE to do. Really? Yes! Having choices is a reality you can accept. Even Benjamin Franklin’s critical witticism expresses this truth indirectly: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Reluctant to Embrace this Perspective Shift?
If you notice you’re scoffing, rolling your eyes, or mounting a critique, then your conditioned mind is aware and worried.
If embracing these two thoughts feels like an indulgent invitation for irresponsibility, then your conditioned mind has some similarities to mine. I can remember my conditioned mind stirred up thoughts such as these:
- I can’t really choose.
- Well, while philosophically it might be true that there’s nothing I have to do, such an assertion has absolutely no relevance to real life.
- Maybe I can choose, but if none of the options are appealing, then choice doesn’t really matter.
- If I actually did what I wanted, then [fill in the blank with the catastrophic event of your choice.]
Yes, Choices Have Consequences:
Of course, we all know that choices have consequences! That’s kind of the point. These two thoughts that facilitate the Perspective Shift don’t negate that but rather these thoughts shift the focus from what you might lose to what you have to gain.
Consider Ignoring Your Obligations—Just for Fun!
Before making any “obligatory” choices, consider the consequences of various choices. What are the probable consequences of choosing to ignore a commitment and choosing to honor it? For example, ponder lingering in the comfort of your bed instead of getting up promptly and going to the gym.
That thought exercise usually reveals the tradeoff is between the short-term discomfort for the long-term gain versus the short-term ease for the long-term neglect. Awareness of that tradeoff, although uncomfortable, shifts your attention to the reality that you can choose. Ignoring the trade-offs strengthens default behaviors, which keep us stuck.
Choice to Align Values and Goals with Daily Actions
Viewing my commitments as obligations makes me keenly aware of the consequences of not fulfilling them but that perspective obscures the relationship of obligations to my values and goals. Alternatively, reminding myself that there’s nothing I have to do, and that I can fill my day with things I choose, puts me in touch with my desires, my values, and my goals.
I’m quickly aware that honoring my values and achieving my goals will make some choices far more obvious and desirable than others. With these two thoughts, I can embrace this Perspective Shift that encourages me and rewards me for aligning my choices with what matters most.
Additional Benefits of the Perspective Shift
My heightened awareness of the connection of today’s to-dos, calendared events, and pending deadlines WITH my values, goals, and desires creates that ALL IMPORTANT activation energy!!! In case you’re not familiar with activation energy, it’s the fuel that aids you in melting resistance.
To initiate any task and work with ease, we need to work through some resistance (principle of inertia – an object at rest tends to stay at rest) until we generate some momentum (principle of inertia – an object in motion tends to stay in motion). Our thoughts can either melt that resistance or reinforce it. Thus, the Perspective Shift, which focuses on choice, which is about control and possibilities, melt it while thoughts of obligations reinforce it.
Whether you plow ahead with the dread of obligations (honoring or neglecting them) or alternatively express your commitments as choices, consequences are real. Consequences may not be immediate, but they will certainly appear over time.
Embracing CHOICE over OBLIGATION, which implies no choice, highlights the link between the needed action and what matters MOST TO YOU!!! Remember things like a desired career advancement, creative expression, income that supports your desired lifestyle, relationships that enrich you, and optimal health matter to you. When that connection is strong, you can infuse the identified action in front of you today with the positive energy of the future desired outcome.
When I remember, “Everything I do today I choose,” I’m reminded to align my choices with my values and goals. This Perspective Shift guides me each day as I make those choices. When I find myself slipping into older default patterns of dreading obligations, I remember, “There is nothing I HAVE to do.” Then I seek the connection between the to-dos and my goals, and the resistance loosens! Starting to feel a bit like magic!