accepting a task or situation in exchange for someone's potential favors
Obligation is a mental trick we play when we accept a poor situation now in the hopes it will lead to a better one later. If we do not feel Obligated, we know we are really in control of the situation since we can leave at any time. However, we would then lose any chance of a reward at the end and even risk consequences that might befall us as a result of leaving. But by focusing on the hope of a reward and protection from consequences, our current suffering can be tolerated and we feel we have no choice but to stick it out. The problem is that as long as we continue to feel we have no choice, the suffering can increase way beyond any realistic hope of recouping and yet we "must" stay.
syn. agreement, pledge, contract, accepted compulsion, emotional contract