Coping with Everyday Feelings of Duty & Responsibility for Cycle Breakers, how to “look at your woodpile with pride."


Duty & responsibility are often themes for cycle breakers. There is some trauma around it but also yes, duty & responsibility will always exist on some level. But to address some of the distress or overemphasis around duty & responsibility, consider these tips...

Identify your “wood pile”

“Thoreau wrote in his journal: “A man looks with pride at his woodpile.” (Richo, 2007) Your metaphorical woodpile is your “pile” after “an honest’s day’s work.” “This will be different when you are well as opposed to when you are sick” (don Miguel Ruiz). Learn about your values, deeply. What do you value on a broad, conceptual level (Love, Justice, Nature, Compassion, Fun, etc) and identify how that shows up in your daily life. Are there any other values that show up when you look over your daily life? Values are big and broad and also hide in the “cracks and crevices” nitty gritty of your life.

Take Inventory of Acting on Your Values

Now that you’ve gotten a picture of some of your values- are you acting on them? Are you “dragging your feet” so to speak on any of them? What holds you back from pursuing or honoring a value? Sometimes knowing subconsciously or consciously that we are not acting on what we love & value, causes distress & drains us, or sometimes…

Give Yourself Credit- Recognize

The feelings of duty & responsibility are on overdrive. It’s not uncommon for me to hash it out with people I work with, or even with myself, that “you’re doing it,” “I’m doing it,” *this is it*  - A part of the trauma, because of duty, responsibility on overdrive (intergenerational trauma, colonial trauma) is not being able to recognize you are doing enough. You are doing it. What more can you ask of yourself? Go to sleep easy tonight knowing that you are practicing your values. “Look back on your woodpile with pride,” if it is the case that you are genuinely practicing your values.

Give Yourself Credit, Conclusion

If you are in a state of growing, recognize where you are acting on your values and where you are growing, shifting, rearranging to act on others that are important to you. Both truths can be true at the same time. Maybe I can “let go” of being vigilant on some values, because by giving myself credit & recognizing, I realize I “don’t have to worry about that,” it’s already so a part of who I am/ my personality that I don’t need to worry about that anymore.


Human Becoming, Dave Richo, 2007