Most people I think would agree that feeling obligated can be stressful. When we feel like we have no other choice or that we have no say in the matter, we can feel trapped, stuck or helpless. This can create a cycle where we end up feeling burnt out, tired and feeling like we want to quit.
Finding what motivates us is key to understanding ourselves and to move ourselves forward in life.
Years ago I took a course called “The 6 Advisors”. Through this course I learned about who the 6 Advisors are and how they each play a role in our internal dialogue. Imagine that you’re the CEO of a company and you’re sitting at the head of a boardroom table and you have 3 advisors on each side of you. Each of the advisors is either talking or sitting quietly. And it’s usually the ones that are talking the loudest that you want to ignore:).
One of these advisors continually says “I have to, I should, I must” and if you listen to that advisor, you end up feeling obligated, tired and unmotivated. You can manifest a lack of interest, passion, dedication, enthusiasm or attention to detail. You end up feeling powerless and resigned. You may let others have too much influence over your choices. And you can feel like you’re spinning your wheels or just going through the motions. In the body it shows up as a slumped and defeated body language, a lack of energy and tension.
These phrases become so automatic in our thinking that we don’t even notice them anymore. While taking this course I became very aware of just how much I would constantly think “I should, I must, I have to” before I thought of the action.
But once you train yourself to notice it, you start noticing it all the time. And it’s in those times that we can create a wedge and replace the advisor’s thought with “I get to, I choose to, I want to”. Every time you think “I have to, I should, I must” stop, replace that with “I get to, I choose to or I want to” and you’ll notice a difference: a difference in energy, a lightness, and a freedom that wasn’t there before.
In taking the 6 Advisors course I learned that we can choose our thoughts. If we don’t like the thought that comes to mind we don’t have to settle for that one; we can wait for another thought to come along or we can plant one ourselves.
Instead of thinking robotically, we can choose more energy-rich thoughts like ‘I want to, I get to or I choose to’. I bet if you were to observe your thoughts throughout your day, you would want to have a quarter for every time you thought “I have to, I must or I should”.
By observing yourself in this way, you can be present with your thoughts more rather than being on automatic pilot. And you’ll get yourself unstuck and find new ways to motivate yourself forward.