Motivation and Boundaries


Since past one year my relationship with my aunt is not too good. I do not live with my parents. I am financially independent. My aunt still keeps troubling me for various silly things. This is hurting me a lot. I lost interest in my studies. I don't feel motivated at all. Everything is piling up in my heart.This is really affecting my studies.Please tell me some ways how i can be motivated to do well in school.

—princessp, USA


Dear Friend,

Do you feel a commitment to your aunt to help her or is she simply pulling on you for favors and assistance? Is there any special connection between school and your aunt or is it more a matter of both time and upset emotions and confusion?

Here’s what I sense from your description: that your aunt is asking for your attention for small details and while you feel you need to say YES and help her, it is, at the same time, causing you to feel annoyed and perhaps guilty for either being annoyed or even thinking about saying NO to her!

If I am anywhere near correct in my reading of your dilemma, I would say it is time for you to assess calmly, meditatively, and prayerfully where the boundaries of duty lie in respect to your aunt’s self-defined needs. If you say YES to helping her then accept doing so happily and willingly; but if you feel that she is being unncessarily demanding and imposing on your time, you may need to develop the calm but quietly firm language to say, at least sometimes, that you don’t have the time right now because of your school work. Is there any other neighbor, friend, or family member who can also help your aunt? If so, engage them, too.

I’m not sure what this has to do with your school work, but I suppose it is at least distracting and emotionally upsetting. Therefore I would suspect that once you deal clearly and calmly with your relationship to your aunt, your motivation to focus on school will return to you. It would be helpful for you to keep reminding yourself of the importance of your education to your future and of the specific reasons you are pursuing school (high school? college?).

Sometimes we just resent the needs of others but their needs are still, nonetheless, ours to render assistance to. “Guilt” in other words, like physical pain, can function to “prick” our conscience to do what is right and to do it willingly. But being willing doesn’t mean we should be someone else’s personal servant. You can still be helpful to your aunt but on your terms that balance your need to focus on school with her needs (as she sees them). You can also develop the kind and loving but firm language that lets her know you have other duties, too. Perhaps you are afraid of her anger or some other “power” over you that your aunt may possess. You didn’t mention anything like this, but learning to stand up for yourself AND still be helpful may be difficult but it will help you to grow and mature; it may even help your aunt see your realities, too and become less demanding. (You can’t depend on her changing or understanding, however. That’s up to her!)

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.

Blessings to you in the light of Spirit,

Nayaswami Hriman