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12 Ways We Unintentionally Burden Ourselves (+ How to Let Them Go)

Posted In Spirituality // 2
let go of burdens

You may or not be aware of burdens you have taken on in your life.

Most people aren’t. They just assume their burdens are just ‘reality’. 

But, as a freedom fighter who cares deeply about you being able to create your life and what matters to you, I want to share these with you.

Because these burdens mess with your ability to create your life.

In this post, I’m going to share with you 12 types of burdens people taken on without realising it.

That way, if you can see a burden or two (or more!) that you’ve taken these on, you can begin to explore how they’re affecting your life – and your ability to create your life as you want it.

I’ll also share with you the question you need to ask yourself to set yourself free.

12 Common Ways we Unintentionally Burden Ourselves

Here are 12 common ways we inadvertently burden ourselves and rob ourselves from being free to create our lives as we wish:

#1:  Wanting to be different than you are

Let’s be honest….

Whether we like it or not, we are the way we are. And whatever we think of ourselves, we think of ourselves.

People go to great lengths to try to change themselves, but trying to be different than you are a form of self-rejection.

If you are trying to be different than you are – because you, say, want to fit in, or have people like you, or get a promotion – you make being yourself a problem.

And yet, there is no-one else you can be. What a hideous burdensome trap to set for yourself!

#2: Thinking you should be different than you are.

This one is linked to the one above, but is subtly different.

While there are lots of things we might like to be, there is no book of who you should be.

Sure, there are societal and parental expectations of who we should be.

Successful. Rich. Happy. Spiritual. Enlightened. Fit. Healthy. Fabulous.

But, there is nothing wrong with who you actually are, regardless of whether you fit someone else’s mould, or match up to some ideal you have about who, or how you should be.

If you think you should be different than you are, you’ve basically rejected yourself as you are. And because people cannot change into another person, you’ve created a sense that you are wrong to be who you are.

And that, my love, is fucked.

You may not be as pretty, smart, successful, fit or popular as you’d like.  But that doesn’t mean you’re not awesome as you are. Or that you’re not capable of creating an amazing, fulfilling life, full of the all fruits of your labour.

You can try and turn yourself inside out to be who you think you ‘should’ be – and STILL not have what you want in life.

How about you get your focus off YOU, and onto WHAT you want?

#3: Thinking you should ‘fill-in-the-blank’ (e.g., eat better, meditate, work harder)

This one is the same as the above, but in the realm of ‘doing’.

There is no book of what you should do.

Sure, there may be societal and parental expectations of the ‘right’ things to do.

But, there is nothing wrong with what we want to do, regardless of whether we fit someone else’s notions or expectations.

Often this need for certain types of ‘doing’ is more about confirming what it means about us.

Buying into ideas about what you need to do, or be, or have to match up to an ‘ideal self’ may, when we are in them, seem ‘inspiring’ and ‘energising’. There certainly are motivational slogans aplenty out there.

But as well as being a form of self-manipulation, trying to be an ‘ideal self’ is also an identity crisis in action. And identity crises, my love, are very, very heavy burdens!

#4: Striving to “be a success”

Just like the above three, people who do this are creating their lives out of broken sense of identity.

There is no joy to this, because it’s all about stroking one’s ego and the strokes are very short-lived.

Besides, there is no such thing as ‘being’ a success.

When we do this we are only creating things in the attempt to gain approval, recognition, adoration from the public, parents, or ourselves.  Living life trying to prove oneself to anyone (ourselves included) is an exhausting way to try to create a life.

#5: Striving for fame or popularity

This one is pretty much the same as the one above, except the driver is for public recognition and approval.

#6:   Believing other people’s thoughts, feelings, choices and lives are any of your business

Your thoughts, feelings, choices and life are your business.  Others thoughts, feelings, choices and lives are theirs.

If you concern yourself with what others do or choose, thinking that somehow it has anything to do with you, you set yourself up to be burdened by others thoughts, feelings, and choices.

The juice of your life is in your lane. Get your focus there.

#7:  Believing your life and choices are anyone else’s business

Similar to #6, if you concern yourself with what others think of your choices or behaviour – or the quality of your life – then your life is more about thoughts of the audience than of creating what you want.  

What a huge burden to have to impress others!

#8: Taking responsibility for other people’s thoughts, feelings, choices or future

Responsibility is something I used to believe in and advocate strongly for.

I’ve now come to realise that responsibility is akin to obligation.

I used to feel obligated (and heavily burdened) by our highly-disabled daughter. But then I come to realise that I don’t look after her because I have to. I do it because I want to. We could adopt her out, but we don’t want to.

The moment I realised we have her because we want to and not because we have to, her life ceased to be a burden to me.

Oh, and other people’s thoughts, feelings, choices and future belong to them.  They have nothing to do with you.

#9: Believing that you have a ‘purpose’ you have to fulfil

This one may come as a shock to you, if you, like me, have always been told, or assumed you have a purpose.

What if you don’t?

From the time I was tiny, I worked my ass off in the belief that I had to achieve big things in my life. That’s what I was told.  So that’s what I did. I got an education, years of work experience, a leadership development and coaching business and an international career. But no matter what I did, it was never enough.

The moment I asked myself how I knew that I had a purpose, I realised that I didn’t.

Only what I’d been told as a painted fantasy of my future when I was young.

I suddenly realised that, armed with this ‘purpose’, there was never going to be an end to the helping I had to do.  Despite everything I did, it never felt enough. The moment I got that, I realised how fast I had been running – for years – to keep up, to make traction, to try to save the world. And frankly, I was exhausted.

I had thought I wanted to help people. But in truth, it was much more about having a purpose I had to fulfil. To justify my existence.

How fucking awful.

That realisation was the beginning of something huge – and entirely unexpected. Something profound shifted in me.

I began to question what I really wanted to do with my life.

To start exploring it, I decided to stop working to fulfil a purpose, to stop helping, and see what happened.

It was the beginnings of a significant process of uncovering my true values.

And ironically, and not at all to my surprise, my values still include helping people.

But now, I’m free to help. Or not help. Before, I HAD to do it.

Now, as well as helping people, I do other stuff I love. I paint. I learn about interior design. And I have a fuck-tonne more time for my family and friends.

I don’t exist to help.

I exist because I do. I live because I do.  I don’t live to be a helper. Or a mother. Or a friend. Those are things I do because I want to.

Totally different thing than having to be here to fulfil those job descriptions.

Thinking you can’t just waste your life doing what you want, because you want to, sets up unseen implications. You have to justify your existence by fulfilling a ‘purpose’.

The reality is though that you don’t have to justify your existence.  Not only do you not have to, but you can’t justify your existence.

But thinking you do, my friend, is one mother-freaking big load to carry. Because it takes away your personal freedom to do with your life what you want.

Especially if it includes doing things in your life that you wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. Or to try to be someone other than yourself.

#10: Believing you have to ‘make the most of your potential’

Sure. You might have a tonne of ability.

But just because you have ‘potential’ doesn’t mean you ‘should’ – or that you have to use it. 

Just because I have the potential to be a great painter, or lawyer, or synchronised swimmer, or a combination of all of the above, doesn’t mean I should do any of it.

(Side note: I went to law school because I had the grades to. I never had aspirations to be a lawyer. My thinking was that it would be a ‘waste’ of my potential to not use them.  It wasn’t till I was a year in – with ‘A’ grades no less – that I realised that I hated law. So I quit and pursued what I actually wanted to do.)

The question is, what do you WANT to do? What do you WANT to create because you want to?

Setting your life up to create things because you have the ability to, is a fucked way to live.

I can jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Doesn’t mean that I should! (Or that I want to!)

And what if you want to do something that you don’t start out being good at?  Does that mean you shouldn’t learn? (HELL NO!)

#11:  Believing you owe something to your parents

If you want to help your parents, because you want to help your parents, that’s a value-driven choice.

But if you do things you wouldn’t otherwise want to do (like, become a doctor, or get married and have 2.4 children and a white picket fence) because you believe you ‘owe’ it to them to do what they want or expect of you, then take a look. Their wants, needs, feelings, expectations are running your life.  

What do YOU want?

#12:  Believing you owe something to your children

If you have taken on ideas that say that you owe your children happiness, self-esteem, a great childhood, opportunities, a healthy mindset, etc, etc…. you don’t.

Not only do you not owe it to them, but many of them you are not in control of anyway.

You can be the best parents in the world, and still wind up with fucked-up, miserable, entitled kids who don’t do anything particularly exciting with their lives and who blame you for not being the right kind of parents.

And you can be a totally messed-up parent and wind up with great kids who make it through unscathed.

None of that is your job.

The Question to Ask Yourself to Set Yourself Free

Did you spot yourself in any of the above? (You’d be joining a vast majority of the population!)

If you are doing any of the above, and you want to stop, the next two questions to ask yourself are as follows:

Do I value freedom?  Mine AND everyone else’s?

Freedom to be who you are?

Feel as you feel?

Think as you think?

Do as you do?

Want as you want?

Speak as you speak?

If the answer is yes, start paying attention to the choices you’ve been making that without realising it, you’ve been valuing more than your freedom (or more than the freedom of others).

If you truly value your freedom, it’s a HUGE, life-changing enquiry!

You can read about why I’m fighting for freedom (and learning to ignore those who don’t) here.

On Social? You can follow me here on Instagram and here on Facebook. 

Big love to you + your exploration!

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  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 12:20 am

    #6 7 8 9 and 10! What’s the cost to our freedom?

    • mm
      July 28, 2017 at 2:59 am

      Hi Laurel. There are HUGE costs to our freedom?! Can you see what they are? xo

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