The phrase “everyone has baggage” has been in my lexicon for years. It is another way of saying everyone has a past, and thus everyone brings a different perspective to the table. Recently I heard a phrase along these lines that totally blew my mind – if you pick something up and it feels too heavy, it isn’t meant for you to carry.
I am a helper. People come to me to discuss their problems and I am so happy to listen, support and offer guidance. Being there for others lights me up. I am, however, also a worrier, and mixing helping with worrying can be confusing because without really realizing it I can start to take on others’ issues as my own. I can, in other words, carry the burden of others around as I am trying to help them figure it out, even though that isn’t exactly what they asked of me. They asked for guidance, but they didn’t ask me to take on their problems.
It is hard for me to set boundaries when it comes to the people I love. I think that I can help them carry something that isn’t mine to carry, and those pieces of baggage always feel heavier to me because I don’t completely understand their problems. I have a good understanding about my baggage. I can articulate why I am reacting a certain way because of my past. I can manage the baggage to make it lighter to carry. I cannot do that with other people’s baggage because while I can advise, I don’t have all the information I need in order to make the bags lighter.
I know all this, and yet I can still get wrapped into helping and worrying and carrying baggage. So, I’ve been thinking about this idea for a few weeks now and realizing that I need to give myself permission to put other people’s baggage down. I can help others by setting boundaries for myself, so that I help without taking their baggage with me.
Is there anything that you’ve taken on that isn’t really yours to carry?