Micro Entrepreneurism, Simple Living & Art
Because there is a huge difference between genuinely wanting to do something and feeling like you have to, or you should.
In the midst of a recent discussion, I got stuck on a tangent about what I now am calling “relationships of obligation.” These can be friend, business, romantic, or otherwise. I think the concept I’m talking about can be best explained with an example:
I like to send mail. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and say that I love to send mail. I smile creating it, I delight in giving it to the postman, I get all anxious and excited waiting for it to get to the recipient, and I get giddy thinking about the smile on the other person’s face when they get it. The whole process makes me happy. I send mail to people, some that I know really well, and some that I really don’t, but I send it to them, because I want to. I don’t send mail because I want or expect them to send me something back. It is not mail with strings attached. And yet sometimes I do get mail back, awesome mail, quirky mail, mail sent just for the hell of sending it.
This mail sending is free, no obligations. It is truly a gift.
Sometimes my gift gets misunderstood. Instead of being received as a gift, it is received as an obligation. Now the other person must give me something back. And they want to, but only so that they don’t feel guilty later. I think this happens when there is an imbalance in the relationship, either in the actual dynamics of the relationship (there is a feeling of inequality) or in the mindset of the other person (they are not in a place where they could give a free gift, and therefore cannot understand when one is being given to them).
I have relationships of obligation and I have ones that are not and then I have ones that have transitioned from one to the other, in both directions. Sometimes I know that I have been the person out of balance, imposing the sense of obligation.
I’ve been trying to understand the root of this and I think it comes down to self love. If I am full of love, I can’t help but want to share it with other people, and not because I need theirs, for I have enough all on my own. Also, I am open to receiving gifts because I’m not worried about not being worthy of them. But when the self love is running low, gifts start to feel like obligations. I can’t imagine why someone else would want to give me anything, because I don’t know what I offer them in return. And this is when gifts given have strings attached because I need things in return. Its a cycle, but a breakable one. The first step, as per usual, is just recognizing that you do it.