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  1. #1
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Default Feeling obligated

    Just curious... something going on in my life at the moment that's making me wonder if SJ life is like living under constant feelings of obligation to one thing after another... and whether these obligations are resented by the SJ or not, and whether there's any way for an SJ to understand a person not feeling obligated by the same things without concluding that that person is therefore a bad person?

    Obligations like... oh, anything. But things that are not actually legal obligations, I mean, things you do, in a real sense, have the choice as to whether or not you fulfill them as opposed to things that you'd be arrested for not fulfilling like paying taxes and stuff.

    So, things like spending time talking to a guy who's bought you a drink; going to visit a family member who's in your neighbourhood even though you're not close to them and it's quite an effort for you to get there, because you've been invited; bringing a bottle to a BYOB party (like I know this ISFJ woman who got sidetracked by an emergency on the way to a party and didn't get time to buy a bottle before the store closed, so she wanted to go home but I refused (and was driving lol) so we went but she felt guilty for days afterwards whilst I had no intention of taking a bottle cos I wasn't gonna be drinking anyway since I was driving - she's a teetotaller anyway "but it says BYOB on the invitation!! "); donating money to somebody who rattles a charity collection box under your nose; going to a wedding you've been invited to even though you won't know anyone else there; going to a birthday party of a person you don't like much because they've invited you and they give you a ride into work occasionally... and any other things you can think of.

    I guess this is more aimed at SFJ's than the T's, but I'd be interested in the STJ's point of view too and really anyone else's!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member dnivera's Avatar
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    My life is full of things that I "should" be doing, and the proper way to do things. I'm constantly thinking over social situations in the past where I didn't do something I should've done, or when I should've said something in a better way, or behaved differently. I don't consider them obligations, though, (in the sense of something negative that you dread doing), it's just the way I live my life.

    Those other things that you mentioned (like donating to charity or talking to a guy who bought me a drink), on the other hand, actually sound like real obligations that most people would dread doing (myself included). I'm guessing a lot of people would not want to do those things.

    But my sense of "obligation" is not like that at all - it comes more from a sense of doing the right thing for the benefit of society and the good and maintaining healthy friendships in general. Things like holding doors for people, making sure that I say happy birthday to someone I don't know very well if I know it's their birthday, and showing the right amount of enthusiasm at a party I'm not really enjoying....that's more of what my sense of is like obligation. I don't resent having to do these particular gestures...I feel they're really necessary to maintaining order.

    I probably sound like a walking stereotype.
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  3. #3
    No me digas, che! Recoleta's Avatar
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    Very interesting topic, Subs. Hmmm...yes, I'd say I do live under a lot of obligations; but I wouldn't say that I necessarily resent them. Sometimes they do get obnoxious and frustrating and really wear me down, but I am happier when I have some obligations rather than having none at all.

    I think SFJ's suffer much more from social obligations than STJ's do. I can pass up a wedding invitation to someone who is not very close to me, or a birthday party of someone I don't particularly care for, but I will at least make an effort to acknowledge the celebrations. I might give a card (or present for the wedding), or send a happy birthday email/text message/phone call to the person so they know I am thinking of them even though I will not be in attendance. I might feel a little more obligation to family....just because...they're family.

    The places that I really feel obligation are the places that I willingly commit myself to such as my schoolwork, friends, family, and job. I almost enjoy these kinds of obligations because it means that in fulfilling these obligations I am making a difference in the lives of those I care about, and am doing work that I generally find meaningful and rewarding. Sometimes though, if I feel I am underqualified or do not feel like I can reasonably commit the time and energy needed to fulfill my obligations I begin to feel guilty and negligent. Obligations are kind of like a blessing and a curse. I love when people depend on me for things, but at the same time sometimes my efforts are taken for granted and I end up with too much responsibility piled up on top of me. I try to keep a reasonable balance in my life though -- I pick my battles.

    Take for instance, I recently accepted a job to teach Spanish at a university (I start on Monday), and while I love the Spanish language, and am studying to be a teacher I still feel vastly underqualified for this job. I am expected to teach completely in Spanish from day 1 and am supposed to focus on speaking communication. Now, my reading and writing skills in Spanish are very good, but my speaking abilities are lacking and I KNOW I'm gonna get stuck in class and will be fumbling around for words. Plus, I have never taught before -- much less at the university level. This is going to be a huge challenge/burden for me, but I know it will undoubtedly teach me lots, so that's why I accepted the job. I put that obligation on myself. I will, in turn, commit myself to being the best teacher possible while trying to follow the guidelines that the department has set out for me to follow. I like the challenge, it's just that sometimes I will work myself too hard and will be too critical of myself.

    Does that make sense?

  4. #4
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    yeah it makes sense, you both sound quite a lot like my sister and mom who are the ones who've got me thinking about this stuff.

    Especially the part where you say "because they're family". That's exactly what we've clashed over - they take this as read that "they're family" is, on its own, something that has a claim over a person, whilst I don't. And because I don't, they can't seem to see me as anything but a cold, uncaring duty shirker and all round bad egg. And I don't know how to explain to them that if I care about someone then it's because we have some level of bond between us, naturally - y'know, we have to have spent at least some time together, have talked quite a bit, know and understand each other to some level. But to them, somebody being their cousin seems to be enough for it to have a claim over them somehow, even though they might not have seen that person since they were two years old and wouldn't recognize them if they saw them on the street.

    They could've had nothing to do with a person for thirty years and yet if they happen to be in their neighbourhood and invite them to a barbecue to say hello they feel completely obligated to go and, like you say, they don't resent it, they just consider it their duty and a pleasure to fulfill it. I'd see it as a total drag to give up some of my time to spend an afternoon pretending to care about a person when we haven't even thought about each other for 30 years and after they're gone, we'll continue to not think about each other.

    They don't seem to see any difference between that and if I were to refuse to go to my own sister's birthday party (which I wouldn't, because there is a natural and genuine bond between my sister and I and I'd want to go even if it were the lamest party ever). I think it's a question of them believing they owe somebody something just because they're related, whilst I don't necessarily.

    Hmm... it's interesting... I also have a sense of duty, a very strong one, but I find it fascinating how it's turning out that the difference between myself and my SFJ relatives is exactly what things we consider to actually be obligations.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  5. #5
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Well, sug, I like having people rely on me, and I like being respected for my can-do attitude. Also, I tend not to cultivate relationships with people who only take, take, take, so I feel that I get a lot back from the people who care about me. Plus, I can find a way to enjoy events thrown by even the dullest acquaintances, because I'm such an extrovert and I drink. If you'd like me to be an annoying ESFJ, though, I'll gladly hector you for neglecting to call your parents and for poor grammar.
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  6. #6
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    I'm not an SJ - but sometimes I feel I have to take responsibility and/or pick up the pieces, which really blows because it is not my strong point.

    After a while, you learn a very important concept and that is: SOMETIMES YA JUST GOTTA SAY NO!!!!

    No. N-O. Two letters with a lot of power. You're not letting other people down; you are setting your priorities. You need what I call "YOU" time, and if people do not want to give it to you, screw 'em. You have to take it in order to be able to continue giving.

    So if you notice people are being ass rats and not giving you the time you need to recoup, tell 'em you CAN'T. Be polite but firm. And if they won't give up, tell them to go "where the sun don't shine" because some people need a direct, straight answer.
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  7. #7
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Well, sug, I like having people rely on me, and I like being respected for my can-do attitude.
    I'm the same, people do rely on me - about the only people I know who say I'm unreliable are my immediate family and if anyone else I know heard them say that they'd burst out laughing - and I'm baffled as to why the family think that because I have never, to my knowledge, broken a promise or let them down on anything I've taken on. I totally do not flake!

    I think though for some people if they don't understand your reasons for doing things they might fear that you're sorta like a loose canon? Like could it be that because my reason for doing an obligation isn't "because it's family!" or "because it's expected", then for all they know I might not bother next time... like because they can't pin me down they assume I won't voluntarily pin myself down? lol

    Also, I tend not to cultivate relationships with people who only take, take, take, so I feel that I get a lot back from the people who care about me.
    Yeah, I don't really think about stuff like that though when I get to know someone, I just take things as they come and take the person as I find them. Often people do turn out to be more take than give but I tend to find myself still putting up with them in the hopes that I can gradually sorta convert them to a more balanced approach, thinking if that happens then they'll be happier and so will all the other people in their lives. I'm not a pushover or martyr though... I guess I'll just 'keep trying' whilst a lot of people will do the sorta 'two strikes and you're out, door slammed and locked forever' thing.

    Plus, I can find a way to enjoy events thrown by even the dullest acquaintances, because I'm such an extrovert and I drink.
    Me too on all the above. Doesn't mean though, that when I've planned something already that I'm looking forward to that I automatically want to drop it to get drunk and party just because some long lost relative claims they'll be hurt if I don't turn up... like I mean so much to them even though they've been out of my life for so many years and will be back out of it again afterwards. I guess I just resent the sorta emotional blackmail angle of it... y'know like feeling like the idea that they'd be 'hurt' obligates me to go even though it doesn't make any sense.

    If you'd like me to be an annoying ESFJ, though, I'll gladly hector you for neglecting to call your parents and for poor grammar.
    Haha, God no! Actually the worst person I know for that is an INFJ
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
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  8. #8
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    It is an interesting thread, especially to hear ISTJs talk about their perspective. And yes, my experience with ISFJs vs ISTJs is that ISTJs can more easily draw a line or reduce the level of their involvement based on a detached eval of the situation; ISFJ is much more inclined to do something bigger than perhaps they logically needed to do.

    As point of contrast, I was raised in a heavily in SFJ house and spent a lot of my life in that sort of environment. So I am the sort of person that can still blow off family stuff or not follow the social niceties if I think they don't make sense or are inconvenient for everyone; but I also am very very aware of it when I do it, and I often can feel some level of guilt, because I feel like they might misunderstand MY commitment to them and take it as a sort of slight if I don't do what was expected. (So sometimes I will do it anyway, even if it's unnecessary, just so that they understand I still care.)

    And not to say sometimes I don't enjoy doing these things, but not because it's expected of me.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Especially the part where you say "because they're family". That's exactly what we've clashed over - they take this as read that "they're family" is, on its own, something that has a claim over a person, whilst I don't. And because I don't, they can't seem to see me as anything but a cold, uncaring duty shirker and all round bad egg. And I don't know how to explain to them that if I care about someone then it's because we have some level of bond between us, naturally - y'know, we have to have spent at least some time together, have talked quite a bit, know and understand each other to some level.
    I dislike family obligations for a different reason. I don't like it when somebody in the family only wants me present so that they don't have to face their own discomfort in knowing that we don't really have a relationship. In other words, I want a real relationship or nothing at all. It hurts me to try to have a real relationship only to fail. I don't find any comfort at all in maintaining a facade. It is draining and it reminds me of my failure to improve the relationship. I have thought about why somebody wants me to be there if all they do is ignore me when I'm there, and it can only be so that they can keep up appearances, even to themselves. It can only be that they don't want to face that they really don't want at all to relate to me.

    It seems like what hurts me makes them feel comfortable. I can sense when somebody really cares for me or not. Some people in my family are cold and always will be, and I don't want them to do their duty by me. If they really have never liked me I would rather just let them not like me and not pretend that I think they really do like me. I used to try and try in my teens to play my role and get them to play their role, so my life would be the way it should be, the way it is on TV. It never worked, and it made me miserable. So now I'm done trying. Any other kid would not try so hard to get an adult relative to like them. With most kids, it's the other way around. The adults have to try to reach out to them. With me, I tried to reach out, and it got me nowhere.

    My parents will not admit the truth of this. There are some truths about relationships that seem to be things that most people cannot or do not want to face or admit.

  10. #10
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    substitute, the short answer for me is, no, I don't know how to not feel obligated. Thinking about it, I would say it's pretty much impossible.

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