Put your burdens down…

“Everyone has his burden; what counts is how you carry it.”  (Hugh McLeod) as seen on my favorite daily blog – Jack’s Winning Words.

Obviously, McLeod wasn’t talking about the size and weight of your backpack or your briefcase, if you’re an adult. His reference is to the mental and emotional loads that most of us haul around – a few pounds of remorse, along with several pounds of regret, maybe some fear, uncertainty and doubt to add a little to the load, and of course gobs of self-doubt and self-depreciation. All of this may be carried, along with sadness, anger, and maybe some jealousy and hate for good measure. Maybe your burden of bad decisions that you’ve made (or perhaps that one whopper of bad judgment that you’ll never get away from), which you now drag along behind like a long tail. Maybe you are weighed down by the coulda, woudlda, shoulda’s in your life. No matter what the makeup these are our burdens in life.

The point is that we all accumulate these things as we journey through life. It is impossible to live without making mistakes that we might later regret. It’s OK to have those burdens according to McLeod; if you know how to carry them. That is probably the point in that little saying upon which I disagree with McLeod. I would  re-state his saying to be, “Everyone has his burdens; what counts is your ability to put them down.”

I would argue that finding a way to keep a stiff upper lip and carrying your burdens through life while playing the role of the good dobby, is both wrong and damaging. It is wrong to hold things in, to keep them to yourself, to let them fester and have control over your life. It is damaging to yourself to let your burdens grow until they beat you down or cause you to vent your anger on others as a release.

To my way of thinking it is much better to find a way to put those burdens down. If they are feelings of disappointment, jealousy or hate, they are likely aimed at someone else and you need to confront that and get it behind you. Most times that means confronting the person at whom the feelings are aimed and talking things out. At least bring that burden to closure, put it down. Get it (and maybe them) behind you and get on with life.

If your burden is directed inward in feelings of inadequacy or self-loathing, seek help from those around you who care about you and love you – family, friends, your pastor, your teachers – they are there if you just reach out. They will probably just tell you what you already know – that they love you for who you are.  It’s just good to hear that from others some times. And if you really can’t think of anyone for that role, remember that there is One who loves you no matter what. Ask Him for help. He will not turn you down.

You must learn to love yourself before you can truly love others. Be content with what you are and who you are and find happiness in spending time alone with yourself. Talk to yourself (out loud if that works for you) and talk the things out that are burdening you. You’ll be amazed how much it helps sometimes to just verbalize those gnawing issues that have become your burdens. Sometimes they sound kind of silly, once you put them into words.  See which one you can put down with having to confront anyone else because they are really all about you. Put those down first.

So, maybe you have that real whopper of a burden that you’re carrying; something really bad that maybe got you into more trouble than being grounded for a week. Maybe you even got suspended from school or perhaps even arrested. It was bad and you know that now. It was wrong and you know that now, too; and you won’t do that again. The real burden that you are carrying is probably more about worrying about how people might react if they find out about that incident in your life and how they will judge you because of it. How do you put that down?

I’ll bet that half of the successful motivational speakers in America are out there entertaining audiences and inspiring them with stories of their big mistakes – how they used to do drugs or rob and stole when they were younger. Many of them relate the consequences that they had to pay for their burdens – prison time for many. But, there they are, in front of the audience telling their story and getting applause for it. They turned it around to a positive life lesson that they want to share with others and which others are happy that they’ve shared. That’s how they put that burden down.

So, rather than let your personal whopper continue to be a burden, stand up and tell your story. Admit that you were wrong and talk about how that changed your life and made you a better person. Do it in small groups or in front of an audience. I think you’ll find that approach to be an extremely liberating thing to do, since you’ll no longer be consumed by the fear of someone finding out and forming an opinion about you based on what they hear. Tell them what you want them to hear and help them form their opinion of you based upon who you’ve become because of that experience. Put that burden down.

And don’t worry about not being cool. The people who think you’re not cool for standing up and talking about what you did wrong and what is right are not the people that you really want to be around anyway. Many of them may end up as motivational speakers, if they get out of prison. It’s the people who listen and take your story to heart that you want around you; the people who then share their stories with you and give you a hug because you inspired them to put their burden down, too.

So take stock today of the burdens that you’ve been carrying and get started on the mental and emotional housecleaning necessary to put them down. Life is a lot more fun without all of that excess baggage. Don’t carry them around; put your burdens down.

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