Ships don’t sink because of the water around them.
Ships sink because of the water that gets in them.
Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.
Let that sink in — take a deep breath — what’s your initial reaction to reading that?
We are all influenced by our environment, the people and energy around us, the system we live in — we are not only weighed down by our own thoughts and problems but also by those of others, whether it’s a work situation, family, friendship or maybe even a brief encounter with a stranger.
Constantly we find ourselves surrounded by people in difficulty. Naturally we reach out to support those who are troubled, especially those close to us. At times though I’ve failed to differentiate between supporting someone in need, sitting with them in their pain and seeing them out through the other side, and taking on other peoples emotions and making their problems my own.
Here some situations which weigh us down which may resonate
*There are people who have just experienced trauma, sadness, separation, divorce, loss, medical diagnosis… we can be by there sides and offer them all the support they need; be with them, listen and comfort them, for as long as they need, help them to see that however difficult the situation may be, endings are also new beginnings
*Then there are those close to us who experience mental health issues, anxiety, addiction, depression, burnout. It’s scary. We try our utmost to be there for them, try to understand what is going on within even if they won’t talk, the reasons behind their extreme mood swings and behaviour changes. Trying to get them out of their ‘black hole’, struggling to know how to be with them, support them but not put them under any pressure in fear of them retreating further into darkness
*Or maybe you yourself are feeling overwhelmed, burned out, anxious or are in quiet desperation. Feeling you cannot take on anymore from the outside
*There are also people who complain and reach out constantly leaving you feeling guilty or feeling like a bad friend if you don’t listen to their story for the umpteenth time. It’s not until you realise that you’ve taken on the weight of their difficulties, their toxicity and are feeling drained and exhausted
*We also tend to take on responsibility for others even when not required and therefore carry the pressure on our own shoulders as well as not giving them the opportunity to grow and discover life themselves. This could be e.g. delegating at work or trying to protect a child or family member
*Or we carry the weight of trauma that is not ours on our shoulders — maybe a family secret, family tragedy — a trauma from previous generations that has not yet been healed
*Our limiting beliefs are a big one — the world and the media around us are constantly telling us who we should be, could be, would be if only we…dot dot dot… We tend to believe we are never enough. Do you recognise thought patterns that start like the following: ‘I don’t deserve X… I am good at X, so I cannot possibly be good at Y too… I am good at nothing… If I lose 15 pounds then… If I am X others will love me… I’m not as good as X… If only…’
*And last but not least —we live in troubled times in a troubled world. Especially last year caused huge insecurity and anxiety as well as bad blood between friends and families based on their opinions. We try to mediate and understand all perspectives and are saddened by deep rifts that have formed. This may be due to political differences but also due to any other form of lack of acceptance and respect for others within society as well as families
Remember, even on an airplane we are told to take the oxygen mask and place it over mouth and nose before attending to children, elderly or others in need. It took me far too long to understand that it actually really does make sense. If we do not take care of ourselves first, we cannot be there and to care for others. Self care is not selfish! (What a massive insight and turnaround that has been in my life).
What is weighing you down?
What are you holding on to that is not yours?
What would need to shift in you in order to feel liberated?
What or who do you need to let go of?
There’s a lesson in every battle and in every struggle. And often it is exactly that same unforgiving wind that eventually supports us to sail effortlessly.