How a suitcase can ruin your health

I am not a therapist.

However, as a licensed health pro­fes­sion­al I spend a great deal of time talk­ing to people about their lives and lifestyles.

As there are so many people suf­fer­ing with chron­ic stress, chron­ic fatigue, chron­ic pain, and the list goes on, what is not often dis­cussed enough I feel is how our style of con­nect­ing with ourselves and oth­ers’ affects our phys­ic­al health.

Within the last week, I’ve giv­en the “only be respons­ible for your own suit­case” speech sev­er­al times and so it must be shared. suitcase

The meta­phor of a suit­case is often dis­cussed in ther­apy circles, or groups of mind­ful­ness pro­viders, as the “stuff” we all have with us. This “stuff” includes our past and present issues and con­cerns, our emo­tion­al memor­ies (good and bad), our decisions, and our cop­ing mech­an­isms. Basically, whatever stuff makes you who you are (again, not really good or bad, just your stuff).

Some of us have a lot of “stuff” (or many suit­cases) that we carry around with us each day, and some of us don’t. I’m sure you have an idea of what I mean; all of us know at least one per­son in our lives that has many suit­cases with them, lots of trauma or sad­ness, or anger or anxi­ety. It can be a hard thing to be in their pres­ence, des­pite the fact that we might love them dearly.

The fun begins when we start to carry one another­’s suitcases.

It’s hard to avoid as so many of us are com­pas­sion­ate and just want to help one anoth­er out. We answer the phone 10 times to our adult child and listen to their woes, des­pite the fact that they are 32 and are cap­able of find­ing their own resources to deal with their con­cerns. We con­tin­ue to hangout with one of our work col­leagues even though they are angry and attack us at every oppor­tun­ity, know­ing they don’t mean it, but put­ting up with it any­way. And so forth.

Why do we con­tin­ue to do this? And what implic­a­tions of car­ry­ing extra suit­cases arise? Is it that big a deal?

As it turns out, it is. Many of us are suf­fer­ing from thyroid dis­orders, hypo (under)-functioning adren­al glands (our hor­mone glands that sup­port us dur­ing stress), exhaus­tion, depres­sion, chron­ic anxi­ety, obesity, insomnia…all because we’re car­ry­ing too many darn suitcases.

The answer my friends, is very simple.

You put down those darn suit­cases that are not yours, and you give them back.

You stop answer­ing the phone. The minute you feel guilty or stressed about not help­ing this per­son in your life, you ask your­self what you need. What do you need?

Could you use a nap? Could you do with going to the gym? Would you like a healthy snack? Do you need more water?

The more you nour­ish your­self, the more you have to give to the world and, this is a very import­ant point, some­times car­ry­ing someone else’s load is not your job and is actu­ally doing someone a dis­ser­vice. You may be pre­vent­ing them from grow­ing up or mov­ing on or acknow­ledging who they really are as well.

Kind of wild, right? Bet you nev­er thought about it that way.

In the pro­cess of being respons­ible for your own suit­case, you are tak­ing care of your­self and your health as well as theirs.

Let that sink in.

Your bet­ter emo­tion­al self could be as close to you as learn­ing to say no (kindly) and stick­ing with that.

After all, don’t you have enough to deal with your own heavy suit­cases? Wouldn’t it be nice to work on those and go through that for yourself?

Food for your emo­tion­al thoughts…

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