The Responsibility Process™ Helps You Deal with Feelings of Obligation

When you feel obligated, you are doing something you don’t want to do but feel you have to. Feeling like you “have to” generates resentment that you either bottle up or release at unrelated or inappropriate moments, and the resentment produces unproductive or at least wasted thoughts and action.

The Responsibility Process shows us that the feelings of obligation are just a mindset. It is just one way of coping with a situation we don’t want. The good news is that you don’t have to stay in that mindset.

woman with computer holding a babyHow to Release Feelings of “Have To”

To release yourself from obligation:

  • Ask yourself: what are you doing that you don’t want to do but think you have to?
  • How does that make you feel and act?
  • Ask yourself what you want to get out of the situation
  • Look to see what’s true that you’ve not been seeing
  • What if you trusted your power and ability to respond resourcefully to move from obligation to responsibility, what might that look like?

Catching Yourself is Key

I applied these steps recently when I “had to” push some urgent work aside and accompany my sons to their activities. I caught myself grumbling internally and growling at them. When I caught myself, I stopped.

I forgave myself for being human and silently asked myself what I wanted. The answer came immediately: I had signed up for this activity (in more ways than one!) and I wanted to be a dad at that moment and enjoy my sons. The resentment vanished and I was much more responsive and available — instead of feeling badly about my obligation, I decided to live in the moment and enjoy it fully.

That was a quick release. Sometimes it’s not so easy and can take a lot longer, but the process is the same — keep intending to take responsibility, keep asking yourself what you want, and keep looking to see what’s true. The clarity will come to you if you take those actions. Your natural Responsibility Process™ works that way, flawlessly, time after time.

You can have it the way you want it — more importantly, you can want it the way you have it!

“Obligation is indeed a long way from responsibility.”
Tom DeMarco, speaking at the Cutter Summit, May 10, 2006

Learn more about Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process

Posted in Coaching, Responsibility on 08/04/2010 06:10 pm
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