Do I HAFTA?

I want to share some thoughts that were shared with me during a breakfast with my friend Jeannette. Ever feel that pull, like you are being deprived? That the outside world is dictating your life? As contemplatives, a good question to ask is “is that true?” Here are Jeannette’s thoughts. -Amanda


Do I HAFTA!?" As a kid growing up, I was constantly being told what I needed to do, how I needed to act and what the 'rules' were for living. My parents tell me I was a pretty compliant child, which surprises me because I can feel the inner rebellious streak deep inside.

I know my parents were trying to teach me to be responsible but because the requirements of my actions were foisted on me from without, mostly it felt like I was obligated to comply. I had to go to school, I had to clean my room, I had to do the dishes, I had to be home at a certain time.

As we become adults, we have more freedom of choice so we may be tempted to think that we no longer 'hafta' do things. The reality is that with our freedom of choice, comes responsibility. We may be leaving many of our obligations behind but our choices come with responsibility.

For example, one of my choices is to own a home. With that choice comes certain responsibilities which are mine to follow though on in terms of payments and upkeep. I can grouse about having to do these things but it was MY CHOICE to own a home that brought these responsibilities with it.

Other adult choices are getting a job, marriage, having children, additional schooling, or owning a car. All of these come with responsibilities that can't be avoided and are simply a part of living a full adult life.

If we stay in our adolescent mindset that everything we 'hafta' do is an obligation put on us by others, we run the risk of feeling like our life is running us. Then everything is a burden to be endured and life becomes very confining and onerous.

Alternately, we can shift our mindset to an adult view, that we have created the life we're living by the choices we've made. Those choices have brought responsibilities which, as an adult, we choose to follow through on for our own sake and for the sake of others on the journey with us. Does it crimp our style and our freedom? Yup, sometimes it does, but as Joan Rivers used to say "Oh, grow up!”

Will we still have obligations impeding our freedoms? Oh yes, if we live in any kind of communal relationship with others we will feel obligated from time to time. We can minimize those obligations so we aren't living co-dependently but the responsibilities associated with our choices will still remain.

Jeannette