Does your life feel defined by all that you have to do every day? Confined by your to-do list that is expanding at the same rate as the universe? Do you have trouble getting up in the morning because life feels like a never ending merry-go-round from hell you cannot get off? Do you find yourself sometimes racing from thing to thing to buy yourself just a bit of free time, but when you finally have the free time, you are too distracted and rushed to even know what to do with it, much less enjoy it?
If you have answered yes to more than one of these questions, you may be suffering from DUTY “slavery”. Your life has gotten so cluttered and crowded and defined by the tyranny of everyone else’s demands. It may feel like all you do is work, parent, cook and clean, watch a few Netflix and collapse in bed for some restless sleep. Then rinse, repeat, it starts all over again the next bleary morning. While we must inhabit many roles in life, roles such as partner, wife, husband, mother, lover, employee, boss, etc., we are more than our roles. But we can have so many roles and they can be so time consuming and overwhelming, that we forget we are just a human being. In need of some love, and some space, and to not feel eaten alive by our myriad responsibilities.
Existing vs. thriving.
I know the pattern of DUTY slavery, I used to live in it 24/7. One day after losing my temper with a customer service agent, I realized I needed to stop and get off the merry go round of crazy and really look at my life. As I took some time to do this, I came to an important realization. DESIRE was not the primary motivation propelling my life toward my goals and dreams, I had staggered off that path down into the dusty dregs of DUTY. My life was defined and imprisoned by my many roles, responsibilities, and duties. I had become another DUTY slave and lost any sense of DESIRE for life, goals or dreams. I was just existing, trying to get through the days putting one tired foot in front of the other.
Don’t push the river.
Being caught in DUTY is like trying to push the river. Going against our body messages and natural desires. Living in DESIRE Is like surrendering to the river and working with the flow rather than fighting it. DESIRE is a powerful sensation and emotion that can give wings to our efforts to attain our dreams. It is light, fiery, effervescent and feels amazing. We are born full of DESIRE. But that flame can get snuffed out by early life challenges, poor parenting, performance pressure and the all encompassing driving beat of our culture that says you must DO and accomplish S- – T to be important and loved. And so year by year, people lose their wings of DESIRE and the motivation of passion to follow their dreams. In an unfair exchange they take on the saddle of DUTY and responsibility.
Language is telling.
My dear friend Maria reminded me that even our language can promote or reflect this plummet from DESIRE into DUTY. We use terms like, “I have to, my boss is making me, if I don’t do ___ she will kill me,” etc. Instead of saying things like, “I can’t wait to, I get to, I am excited to,” etc. Perhaps just paying attention to the language you use over the next few weeks can give you a clue where you spend more of your time. Are you caught only in DUTY, or do you have a balance and are also able to live in DESIRE and freedom?
While we do have things we must do and people to care for, we were also made for thriving in life and not just existing though it. Thriving does not occur for those who live solely in DUTY. Our lives will have to have some duty and responsibility but hopefully this is balanced out by times of passion, DESIRE and joy.
Take time to listen to you.
If this blog strikes a chord of resonance inside you, I encourage you to take some time to look at your life and choices. Take some time to be with your naked self. Get to know what he or she used to DESIRE and what lights you up. Then as you are able, take some baby steps away from DUTY. Take an art class or a writing class, try that new sport, risk that career change, find out what you love and do more of it. Your body, soul and mind will all thank you and life will feel wonderful and nourishing, instead of like lukewarm leftovers.
Which place do you live in most of the time? Why is this the case? What happens when you living our your DESIRE?
Do you recall your first message like with regards to DUTY? What about DESIRE? Our early family life tends to set strong templates for the way we “Should” live and that is often where DUTY Slavery begins.