Obligations, I do believe, is a difficult one to wrestle with. Duties and obligations are quite different from one another. One must know and understand the difference between the two. Everyone has worldly duties. Karma yoga is doing ones worldly duties without attachment, dispassion. Obligations are added to ones regular duties, they are not the same. The duties are tasks that we have placed upon ourselves to accomplish, because of the way we live our life. Obligations are expectations that are to be met beyond ones duties, this is how it is seen.
These expectations are laid out by others, or by the others in our own head, and our personal attachment of fulfilling them whether we like it or not. Often, as I see, ones obligations are far too numerous, and get confused and entangled with ones duties. By this I mean, the list of obligations, especially at the holiday time, is quite overwhelming for a person mentally and emotionally, and it creates confusion and anxiety. This causes the body to react, because of the strain of too many uncontrolled thoughts, and the bodies limitations in being able to carry them out.
More often than not people over load themselves with expectations, mostly though in their own mind. Following through with them has an aspect of selfishness in it. The fears that come about, and they are fears that are born of this selfishness, are what things we think are like, “what will they think of me if I do or I don’t meet this obligation.” Everyone likes to be thought of and seen favorably. So, the more obligations that are met, the more one feels that they’re looked at more favorably.
One feels the self-worth is completely at stake, with regard to obligations, often. In fulfilling the obligation one has an artificial sense of completeness, just for that moment.
Another fear of not meeting an obligation is the obligor may not meet an obligation that we place on them. The tit for tat syndrome, like, I did something for you now you are obliged to me, you see, there is some karma yoga here too.
During the holidays to meet obligations dispassionately is the key. To be truly obliging means to meet each obligation with kindness, with the desire to please, without aversions or expectations. Know the difference between duty and obligation. At the holiday time many people fear not meeting all the obligations, may create further problems for them.