Before I was born and when I was a baby my dad was a fireman. When living in Tonga a few years later he led a Venturer Scout troop. For those not familiar the Venturer Scouts are the older boys in scouts. I was in the younger scout group (Cubs) but recall a lesson he taught where he showed his Venturers how to do the “Fireman’s Carry”. That carry is an efficient method of carrying a person in a way that their weight is fairly evenly distributed. It allows the carrier to move someone over long distances with minimal strain.
In life, the burdens we carry are often invisible. We can hurt ourselves mentally, which can lead to physical exhaustion, by carrying our loads unevenly. We need to find balance. Sometimes it’s not just our own mental logistics that we carry, but other people’s as well.
Former American football player Lou Holtz said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”
A few things that you can do to balance and better carry your load.
1. Start with understanding what you can carry safely and efficiently so that you don’t find yourself collapsing under a weight that you were never prepared for.
2. Realise that you can’t always take responsibility for organising other people’s existence. If they miss a bus, forget to charge their phone or rush out of the house without taking lunch, that’s on them. A reminder is one thing but when you decide that it is your responsibility to ensure their day runs smoothly, you will not only enable repeat poor behaviour but you will find that your day runs rough.
3. Going on from point 2: Drop the self-inflicted guilt.
4. Let go of negative reactions to your mental load. Don’t act like a martyr (giving your time and energy seemingly willingly but being secretly annoyed and feeling hard done by). Negative energy is extremely draining. What you carry is something that you could remind yourself is something that you have actively decided to bear. Remind yourself of any purpose to why you are carrying that burden.
5. Take off the tag that says, “People Pleaser”. Do your work well and the right people will be happy, including yourself. Or at least you should be. There’s a quote by journalist Herbert Bayer Swope that goes, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.”
6. Focus on your day’s priorities so that the “heavier” tasks get dropped off first.
7. Realise that anything that doesn’t get accomplished can always be picked up again tomorrow.
8. At the end of the day, drop the remaining load and rest. You’ll be stronger in the morning if you don’t try to carry your mental load through the night when your body and mind should be at rest.
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