My friend “Annie” acts as my writing muse; she grew up in a tough neighborhood, had a kid at a young age, and is surrounded by people who are… toxic. They mean well, but they use hostility and guilt as their two primary forms of communication, gossip is rampant, and there’s always some drama occurring.
Annie has established herself as the voice of reason in her family, and as such, they all come to her to help them with this problem, that drama, or some other breakdown.
The only problem is… Annie doesn’t just help them with their problems. She holds their problems. Cradles them, like a baby. Keeps them safe.
And then she suffers over the weight they pose to her energetic, emotional, and physical wellbeing!
We were chatting today, and I drew her the cartoon you see above. I couldn’t stop laughing as I drew it, because it perfectly represents her life! She recognizes that she is the bearer and holder of other people’s crap, recognizes the effect it has on her, and doesn’t want to carry it, but she’s trained herself to pick it up.
Now, I’m not saying you should be an island. To make sure I’m clear:
Is it a problem to be the voice of reason in one’s family? NO!
Is it a problem to assist others with their problems? NO!
Is it a problem to carry their problems on your own back until they get solved? ABSOLUTELY.
What’s Annie to do? It is killing her, weighing her down, and frankly, keeping her from being the woman she is working to become.
Step one to changing this bad habit is to recognize that you pick up crap that rightly belongs to others. In Annie’s defense, she is now completely clear that she is holding other people’s crap, and is completely committed to establishing a new habit… one that empowers her.
If you routinely worry about someone else, or something else about someone, you are holding crap that isn’t yours. Worry about your kid’s grades? Yup, not your crap. Worry your colleague will screw up? Also not yours to hold. Believe that your best friend (sister/relative/brother/parent/acquaintance…) is making a bad choice? Also not yours to carry around.
Step two is to get excruciatingly clear what is yours to hold, and what crap you are holding on behalf of someone else. In other words, ask yourself: is this mine to hold?
Step three is to put that crap down! Really. No one feels good holding it.
Now, I don’t mean be completely disconnected and ignore others. I mean that unless you are going to ACT on the crap you are holding, I wholeheartedly invite you to put that crap down.
The coolest thing about this is that if you find you miss what your life looked like carrying around other people’s crap, you can simply pick it up again! No one will take it while you experiment with how freeing it feels to put it down, and it will be there if you ever want it back.
Worry, anxiety, and the energetic burden have real and dramatic consequences for health, including weight gain, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and elevated blood pressure.
SO, I invite you to put that crap down. You can always have the crap back if you think life was better holding it.
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