My family and co-workers like to tease me that I am absentminded; that if they want me to do something they have to send an email so that the task exists somewhere other than just my brain. I admit it, I have way too much on my plate and, as a result, I just cannot keep track of things unless they are written down. This generally works pretty well for me -- the things I have to do are scheduled in my calendar or saved in my email. Sometimes I forget to do things if they aren't written down (remember my son's preschool?) but everything usually turns out OK.
The other thing you should know is that I don't have enough brain power to keep score. I don't pay attention to who picked up their room last, who cleared how many plates, who did more (or less). Also, if I'm mad, you'll know it. But once I've had my say, my being upset almost always disappears. Since I am focused on making sure that I don't screw up major things, I often forget about whatever I'm mad about after I address it.
This tends to work really well for me, since it allows me to "move on." However, it can sometimes be a problem for others. Even though I forgot I was mad, they didn't. Even if I wasn't upset with them, they are often left wondering how I'm doing, what the resolution was, and whether everything worked out. By the time we connect again, I've completely forgotten about my communication while they've been holding onto it. They've essentially been holding my "baggage" and giving it weight, worth and energy.
So, the other day, my friend asked me how I was doing with something we had discussed. Me? Fine! I hadn't thought of it since we discussed it two weeks ago! At this, she got a little... irked. You see, she had been praying for me, hoping all was well, while I was onto something else. When we discussed it, she felt like she was carrying around my baggage, while I was going on my merry way. So I asked her if her back hurt, carrying around my baggage?! We laughed, and talked about holding onto other people's issues.
I don't normally go looking for extra issues. With four children, local parents and in-law, 60 employees and a two-location business, my experience is that issues usually find me -- and often. I've mentioned being absent-minded; since I can't remember my own issues, I definitely don't take on or carry around other people's issues. (I mean, I don't even want my issues; why on earth would someone else?!) As we continued our conversation, I started to think it's probably more common to hold onto problems than to let them go, even when they're not our own.
Think of yourself and the issues you carry with you like a pantry. It's easier to clean out the pantry in your house, which has a visible mess, than to tidy up your psychological pantry. But the problem is that a messy pantry is infinitely less harmful to our health and vitality than the baggage.
So, as the weather warms up, and you trade in your winter weather wear for lighter garb, I invite you to evaluate the bags you carry around -- that stoop your shoulders, leech your energy and distract your mind. As one of Ayn Rand's characters said, when asked what Atlas should do about the weight of the world on his shoulders, he responded that Atlas should "shrug." So this spring, take a deep breath and shrug!
Your issues will be there, on the floor, ready to haul around again, should you miss them.
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