A soft reminder: Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.

Juansen Dizen

Are you a strong person? Strong in mind, body, and spirit, and someone who is very capable and resilient? Those are beautiful qualities. However, just because you possess all of these qualities does not mean you have to use them to the point of exhaustion, especially when you use your strength for other people’s heavy challenges.

Yes, be a friend and support others. No, don’t become their pack mule. Don’t become your own pack mule!

Sometimes the definition of strength is knowing when to let go. Sometimes the definition of resilience is knowing when to teach others how to carry and then unpack their own things. Sometimes the definition of capability is knowing that not everything needs space in your mind and in your heart, remembering that some things really do figure themselves out.

I have a visual in my mind as I am typing this: You are standing with your arms stretched out in front of you. A book is placed in your hands. That seems ok at the time because it is your favorite book, and it is not heavy and is not in your way. But now, picture another book being placed on top of that one. Then another. Another. Another. Then another. Now a monster huge one on top of that. Now another.

Now you see the smile on your face being replaced with agony; your arms and all the muscles in your body are shaking from exhaustion and ready to collapse. Most importantly, the pile of books is blocking your view, so you cannot see what is around you let alone in front of you. What is approaching you that you are missing because of this excess you are carrying around?

Following the book analogy, when someone suggests a book for you to read, if you have read it before or started it but didn’t like it, you would politely smile at the suggestion but not go out and get the book, letting them know you have already read it or it is not for you. This is the same with picking up other people’s burdens. It is their book to read to learn and grow from. You do not need to take it because it was suggested to you.

Carry only what is yours. And, just like you do when you read a good book, you process it, learn and grow from it, and then put it down. Taking with you the learnings but leaving behind the actual book.

Written with loving kindness,

~Connie Jo Holmes