You wouldn’t be able to lift a 55 gallon drum filled with water. Although you could easily pick up a cleaning bucket filled with water, you wouldn’t want to hold it for a long time. If you tried, it would feel as if it were getting heavier rather quickly.
Holding a cup filled with water is a cinch. Anyone can do it. But how long can you hold it for? The longer it’s held, the heavier it seems. At some point in time, you would need to put it down.
Just as a seemingly light object becomes heavier the longer it’s held, so do the burdens you carry around with you on a constant basis. An issue that initially appears minor grows in significance the longer you hold onto it.
The weight increases steadily as you clutch onto numerous concerns. You become bogged down even faster with the cumulative mass of your collected burdens. Your stress level rises while your energy and enthusiasm drops. Because the progression is gradual, it’s not readily noticeable until it starts to become overwhelming.
Every time you pick up a minor burden it appears to be no big deal. It gets added to your load without much thought. Since the mental weight increases gradually, you adjust to it and incrementally adjust to the growing load.
Each issue alone may be relatively insignificant. Even though you may not be consciously aware of its presence, you are still affected subconsciously. Since the weight you are carrying rises so gradually, you accept the increasing burden as normal and tolerable.
As such, you don’t readily perceive the incremental additions to your stress level. Although you may feel anxious, more irritable, less energetic, and less patient, there is no one obvious culprit you can identify. This fact further compounds your frustration.
Over time, you forget exactly why you are carrying many of the burdens. The details fade, leaving behind only emotions or bad feelings. You become weighed down by accumulated mental debris that is no longer identifiable.
Worrying makes things worse. It intensifies whatever you are carrying. Worry drains your energy without accomplishing a thing. Worry doesn’t help you in any way.
There is not one good reason to accumulate mental issues. It’s a bad habit that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. In order to accomplish this, you must change your approach.
Let’s consider an alternative scenario. Each time you pick up a small burden you let it go rather than carrying it. It’s that simple. With this approach your burden never grows. This works because there’s no point dragging problems around with you.
Here’s how you deal with new issues. For each, ask yourself the following questions: Does this really matter? If not, let it go. Is this worth my energy? If not, let it go. Do I have any control over the issue? If not, let it go. If yes, take the appropriate action and then let it go.
Also, stop worrying. It’s OK to be concerned and take action when and where appropriate. When you let your burdens drop, it’s easier to release the accompanying worries as well. Constant worrying is deleterious to your mental and physical wellbeing. Furthermore, it causes you to hang onto those very things you should be letting go of.
Stay vigilant. Be aware of what you are picking up. It’s too easy to revert back to your old pattern. As you empty your mental load you’ll feel lighter. You will quickly realize how pointless it is to pick things up in the first place.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden