I recently attended one of Pema Teeter’s famous Story Charming parties. It was a wonderful night shared with great people ~ a real gift to all of us.
I wasn’t sure what my story would be but then I saw this funky little carved bowl created by Brian Andreas sitting in the corner of the room — it had 4 legs, wings, was colorfully painted, and around the edge it said:
“This is where I keep things I agreed to do before I found out how difficult they would be.”
Wow. I was struck by what a deep sentiment this was and I found myself resonating with it — I couldn’t help but think of how many of us go around carrying things we took on that weren’t really ours to carry. Those physical or emotional burdens that were not meant for us but we find ourselves holding nonetheless. Do you have any of those? What are they?
This bowl became the theme of my story that night. I talked about how, as a child, I had taken on the responsibility of my mother’s happiness. A tall order for a little person and one that I could not fulfill no matter how hard I tried, because it wasn’t my job to begin with.
Then as an adult, I finally put down that task, thinking I was done. But as with all childhood patterns, it was what I was comfortable with so I found myself repeating it by taking on the happiness of some boyfriends and co-workers.
Huh, I thought. This sure feels familiar and not in a good way. So I worked with a great therapist and one by one, put down those burdens too. By now, my bowl was getting a little full. That was good and as the bowl filled, my life opened up for the possibilities of my highest and best self to show up.
Every once in a while, I would slip and pick something up from the bowl, but then I would reach out to my therapist or coach, or I’d use some of the techniques in the Wellness Toolbox, to get them wrastled back into the bowl.
I can say now that I am much better at not taking on things that are not mine, or if I do, quickly setting them down. And I’m much happier as a result.
I think we should all have a little bowl like the one I saw. A physical place that represents where we can set down our metaphorical burdens. If you had such a bowl, what would you put in it?
It’s OK to start today.