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We have all heard sappy stories about things people did for others that “made a difference” in their lives. While I don’t mean to sound cynical and I am very much a believer in treating others with kindness and respect, it is also true that our culture can train us to believe that “doing for others” is where it’s at. We go through life thinking we’re racking up spiritual or moral brownie points by being a Class A Good Citizen. I call this spiritual co-dependency.

I know a great number of people who are utterly miserable because of their sense of duty. They do everything BUT what they really want to do with their lives then walk around feeling resentful and bitter. They put little smiley faces and big, loud exclamation marks at the end of sentences because they want so badly to convince themselves that they are happy.

But they aren’t happy.

I have encountered many people like this in my life. I used to be a person like this.

I used to factor myself out of “do unto others” and filled my time and life with little projects and tasks that did nothing but feed my ego’s belief that there was something outside of me that needed my “help”. This was a really easy way to avoid working on myself and enjoying my own creativity. What a sad, sad trap.

In addition to changing this in myself, I have been weeding out people in my life who operate at this level of consciousness. It’s false, it creates suffering and these relationships just aren’t fulfilling. I find that people who are doing things out of duty are usually privately resenting me or other people who are following their joy.

There is an inner voice that talks to me and tells me when this is the case. I can tell when an offer has a weighty sense of obligation attached to it and I say, “No thanks.”

The holidays are a fabulous time to examine this. Like the little girl in the video below who is asking “WHY?”, we can do the same.

Why am I buying this? Do I have the money or is it because I want to appear generous?

Why am I going to that party when I don’t really like the host?

Why am I pretending to like Aunt Sue’s holiday casserole surprise instead of just saying, “No thanks.”?

(Insert the many, many WHY questions that we can ask here.)

We often think we need to validate others. In truth, we want validation ourselves. We want to belong. But to what? To a tribe that doesn’t fit us? To a list of values that are really just upholding a status quo that we don’t really believe in?

Why not get in touch–REALLY in touch with your core values and needs and live those instead? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why?

One final question, if you’re doing what you’re doing because it’s what you think “God” wants, ask yourself this:

Doesn’t God want you to be happy?

I do. I want you to be happy or I wouldn’t have spent time writing this. Love yourself enough to want your own happiness and go out there and grab it.

You deserve it.

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