We all carry around a lot in life. On one end of the spectrum, there is the daily grind of work, family and personal responsibility. Those are the constant obligations that alone don’t seem like much, but always seem to come bundled with 100 different other things we have to do. My boyfriend calls those “infinity problems”: one small task that throws open Pandora’s box to a seemingly endless job. Then we have the other end of the spectrum. The weight of the big things in life. A child gets sick. We make a career change. We are faced with unexpected financial hardship. Our marriage hits hard times. The weight of those blows are the ones that can take us out at the knee, particularly if our resilience is already taxed.
While there is not much we can do to avoid certain strains on our resilience, we CAN certainly stop carrying around the weight of things that don’t belong to us. By doing that, we are freed up to handle what we must more gracefully. So, without further ado, here are three things we can free ourselves from and the SELF TALK that can help get us there.
THINGS TO PUT DOWN AND WALK (OR RUN) AWAY FROM
- What other people think of you. Do not get hung up on or apologize for other people’s misunderstanding of who you are. If they have not earned the right to hear your story (see, Find Your Tribe), then their limited understanding of who you are is not your problem. You are more than your mistakes and even more than your successes. You are more than one role you might occupy. Don’t let others slice you too thin. THE SELF TALK: “I am more than what you think you see. The whole of who I am is great than the sum of my parts.”
- History. Whether it is ruminating over mistakes and regrets or romanticizing the nostalgia of the past, history is not a place where we can live. It is impossible to embrace our present or plan for our future if we constantly turn our backs to them. We each have lessons we have learned and sweet memories that reside in the past that we can visit from time to time…but we don’t live there anymore. THE SELF-TALK: “My past is unchangeable, but I am wired for growth. My history is the pad from which I am launched, not the cage in which I reside.”
- Comparison. While the lure of comparison is intoxicating (Instagram and Pinterest depend on that), it is fundamentally toxic. Whether we use comparison to punish ourselves for not being “enough” or to position ourselves as superior to others, we are drawn into a game that endangers our authenticity. Who I am becomes only definable next to the yard stick of who someone else is (or who we misunderstand them to be–see #1). It is said that comparison is the thief of joy. It steals our joy because it demands that we either take pleasure in someone else’s struggle or that we flagellate ourselves for our own struggle. THE SELF TALK: “My purpose has nothing to do with someone else’s progress. I need to stay in my own lane.”
These challenges will always sneak up on us. I compare it to pressing on a hangnail. It hurts, but dammit if I don’t spend the day mindlessly doing it anyway. When any of these three things (what others think of you, your history and comparison), THE SELF TALK that applies to them all is this: “This is not mine to carry.”