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Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've been having a lot of problems lately with obligations. You see, there are two different kinds of obligations - those that you agree to (dinner with a friend, showing up at work every day, scheduling a morning run or an evening zumba class, general housework, etc.) and those that you don't (a work project that is forced on you, drop in company on a Saturday afternoon, having to pay for an expensive car repair, you get the picture...).

While I tend to pack my life very full of obligations that I agree to, it has come to my attention in the past couple of months that there is a big imbalance in my life between welcome obligations and unwelcome ones, or things that people just expect of me without asking my permission about them. And that is NOT cool.

This imbalance is throwing me off my game. That big, fat "I Don't Wanna" hat that I've been sporting for the past couple of weeks is due to this imbalance. Since we tend to lump ALL obligations into the same category and since I am harbouring hatred in my life for all of the people and situations that have been put on me since I got back from Germany, I have confused my desirable obligations with the things at which I am truly angry. And this is helping no one. I don't want to run in the mornings because my boss expects me to finish a huge project by the end of January that is not in my job description. I don't want to leave my house to spend time with my friends because my staff called and woke me up early on Sunday morning (during my personal time) with an issue that needed to be fixed immediately. These two things have NOTHING to do with each other, but in my mind, they are all things that I HAVE to do, and because I am angry about one of them, I have therefore become angry about all of it. And when I'm angry I cover up the emotion with one of three things: food, sex or shopping - the Band-Aid vices to which I cling when I don't really want to feel what I'm really feeling.

I'll be honest - most of this has to do with some issues at work right now. But so much of my personal life overlaps with my work life that it is impossible for me to separate the two into two different issues. My "ME Project" is a full time job in and of itself. This journey for me is much deeper than what is spelled out here on Spark; in my blogs, on my page or on the message boards. In order to revamp my life, lose weight and become an overall healthier person inside and out, I am devoting a ton of time and attention to ME - my behavious, my interactions with people, my food, my exercise, my reactions to situations - I'm working on all of this all of the time, and so a lot of what I accomplish with regards to my "ME Project" just happens to be while I'm otherwise on the clock at work. Thankfully I have the perfect job to be able to devote time to both it and myself in a day. I love that. What I don't love is when work throws me a curve ball that opens up something new in my "ME Project" that I didn't know existed before but that becomes a huge issue in both worlds until it is addressed. If left unaddressed I start to resent my day job AND reach for the fast-food/sex/retail therapy fix - because two negatives make a positive right? Right? Not so much.

My other issue with unwanted obligations is that I tend to have a bit of a Wonder Woman complex. When something is broken, I have to fix it. It makes me feel important. But that can also backfire when the thing that you have to do doesn't have a sure-fire positive outcome. Superheroes aren't supposed to fail. And I'm not sure this time around that I will succeed. Big, stupid, Kryptonite curve ball.

The first step in figuring out this curve ball was in defining what in my life is a welcome obligation and what is not. I could point to the things that I wanted to do, and I could point just as easily to the things that I didn't want to do (which until today was pretty much everything). But it took some work to dig deep enough to find the true culprit of my anger which was causing this ripple effect of negativity through everything that I have on the schedule. Knowing what I'm really angry about is one thing, fixing it is quite another. It's going to involve work. But being able to understand the cause and effect in this case of my reasons for rejecting all of the good things that I've been putting into my life lately is a relief. Now comes the hard part of learning to accept and love and DO those healthy things again, whilst still being angry about this work situation and not letting one affect the other.

This is a pretty big step for me. This is the point at which I would have quit before. This is the place in the past where things would get too hard, too personal, too unmanageable and I would give up. Give in to the vices and throw my hands in the air. But not this time. I can see my anger this time and I'm not going to let it get the best of me. Yes, I am still obligated to do the thing I don't want to do. But there are ways around it and people who can help and I do not have to hold myself 100% accountable for the success or failure of this project. I am laying down the Wonder Woman cape. I do not have to save the day this time. I will do the best that I can with what I am being given and if I do fail I'll figure it out then.

In the mean time, my running schedule, healthy food prep and personal life shouldn't suffer. Wonder Woman needs to rock her Spandex suit!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I often have to force myself to do the fun social activities my friends want me to, because the "other" obligations overwhelm my time sometimes. Unfortunately, my "other" obligations usually involve my family, and specifically my mom. They are things I really do have to do, but I occasionally resent them, and then I resent the fun activities when they fall around the same time. But now I do make sure I fit in the time I need to workout and eat right. Obligations come and go, but I need to take care of me.
    2365 days ago
    I agree, it is hard to balance the me project with everyone else, sometimes even when we are succeeding it can still be exhausting. Great to spend some time working out what you want and what others want.
    2426 days ago
    Ohhhhhhh, I just love this. It is just so self-aware as you tend to be, but the distinction between the types of obligations and how both require a precarious balance is just brilliant.

    Work does seem to get in the way when it is so intertwined with my "real" life - I am trying to initiate boundaries and it has never been my forte. It's definitely tricky.

    But the whole thing where people place obligations on me without permission.

    ***Oh, hellz no****

    Good on you for picking at all of the scabs to see what's underneath [gross analogy - but unusually accurate.]

    That is the real work and you clearly know how to handle your business.

    Battle on, warrior. The ME project is all that matters as far as I'm concerned.


    2430 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/26/2011 9:53:37 AM
    Wow, extremely insightful. It really got me thinking... about things I needed to think about. Thanks for sharing.
    2431 days ago
  • RIGBY31
    Definitely the "Me Project" stays on the front burner. Life's juggling act often makes a mishmash of our emotions, starts the domino effect. The fact that you're looking these issues square in the eyes is huge. Progress will be made.
    2432 days ago
  • CYD1057
    Insightful post and congratulations on thinking through and separating out these issues in your life. There are many people whole go their entire lives not developing the maturity to analyze and distinguish how situations affect other aspects of their lives. You have not only done this in a stellar manner, but have articulated it too! Your post has given me reason to pause and think today. Thanks!
    2434 days ago
    We all stive to find that fine balance of being Wonder Woman and satisfying the desires of our inner child/woman.
    You deserve to live the long healthy happy life you want while meeting all your needs.
    2435 days ago
    You rock, though, seriously!! Great insights here, thank you for sharing them with us, and brava to YOU!!!!! emoticon
    2435 days ago
    emoticon that you are figuring this out!
    I deal with this all the time in my job in which added obligations pop up all the time, most of them in my job description, but unpredictable. Learning to ask for help is crucial, as is realizing that you can't always be at your top form, but you will do the best you can, given where you are.
    And learning to say NO has been a big part of this for me.
    I don't enjoy socializing if I'm worn out so sometimes I say no to that...but am trying to organize myself so that I can do the things I truly want to do which pop up.
    It's a journey... emoticon
    2435 days ago
    This distinction is really interesting, and something I intend to think about. Thanks.
    2435 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    I so know these feelings...pressure at work means I dont want the pressure to have to work out today... its daft and ultimatley self destructive, but yet it happens.
    2435 days ago
    Great insights about voluntary obligations and imposed obligations and the tendency of the latter to taint the former when things get overwhelming. You've given me a lot to think about in my own life. Thanks!
    2435 days ago
  • WYND10
    You can be your own Wonder Woman. I am happy to hear that you're making strides in figuring out what makes you tick. And tock. And chirp. And sets off your alarm. Ok, enough clock references :). But it's great to see you evolve. You're amazing.

    2435 days ago
    You've made enormous improvements in your physical health and wellness but I think I am most impressed with the progress you've made in understanding the reasons for any destructive behaviors you may be battling. Don't let your anger short circuit your ME Project. You've worked too hard and come too far. I'm rooting for you.
    2435 days ago
    Glad you are finding your balance.
    2435 days ago
    Congratulations on what is obviously a very big breakthrough. I know this required a lot of soul searching and courage. But now that you've identified the problem, you'll beat it. Cuz that's just how you are. emoticon
    2435 days ago
    Wow, taking that next step is a big thing for you I can tell, so DO IT....step on ahead and I can relate to trying to balance everything and learning to say NO is a hard thing, especially when those things we are saying NO to have the appearance of being so "good" but not necessarily good for me!
    2435 days ago
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