Last summer we received some bad health news about someone in my family. My first response was shock followed by sadness then I sank into a feeling of helplessness. When I shared this with a friend he asked, “Why do you feel helpless?”
It seemed to me an insane question. Wasn’t the answer obvious? Of course I felt helpless! I cared and there was nothing I could do to help!
It took me some time to realize the question was not only not insane, but insightful. It was more complex than “Why do you feel helpless?” It was; “Why do you feel you need to help?” It was; ”Why is it your job to fix this?” It was; “Why are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?”
The worst part was; I had no answers. I assumed anyone would feel this way in the same situation, but I was wrong.
So I asked myself: why do I feel this way, and went searching for the answer.
I found it buried deep in my childhood. Most answers, in my experience, can be found there. I sifted through the memories that presented themselves to me, discovered the root of the feeling and yanked it out. I acknowledged the fact that my brain had become wired to feel responsible for the happiness of others, which logically resulted in a state of helplessness when I felt doomed to fail in this. I began the process of changing my brain.
As a parent I’m inclined to “carry” my children even though they are full-grown adults. It’s a habit. But I’m learning to catch myself more and more and remind myself that they are perfectly capable of handling whatever they have to deal with in life.
I have to set them down and in doing so I lift them up in confidence. They don’t need me to bear their weight – they can shoulder their own burdens. We all can, right? We just need to know we’re not alone; that there is someone there willing to listen to us and try to understand.
We don’t have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. The weight of one life is enough.
Do you ever feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?
photo credit: Nanny Snowflake