I’ve been doing mentoring and healing today. Both kinds of work relate to the burden I feel we all carry. The sense of responsibility we all feel at some time for ourself and one another.
I believe that human beings have a natural sense of caring. The desire to support and love one another. Along with the understanding that we have to support and love ourselves too. However, over time this sense of community is overtaken by a sense of responsibility. Perhaps even a deeper drive to rescue not just take responsibility. However I know that we have all been encouraged to take more responsibility for others than ourselves a lot of the time. It comes through in our social structures. In the way we teach children to look after others. Sometimes at the expense of themselves. I notice this especially with feelings. And how they burden us.
I remember being told to ‘play nice’, to be polite, tactful, not to speak out or complain. In my working life I was part of a team, constantly told to think of others, help others, do my bit for everyone. And in my spiritual life I was encouraged to believe that helping others was a selflesss purpose that would eventually bring it’s own reward. Whatever that meant. It took me a long while to recognise that whilst I was doing all of this I was also being encouraged to ignore my own feelings. My needs had become secondary. So much so that to say anything about what I needed was classed as making waves.
Then I became a parent. And the responsibility landed firmly on my shoulders. That’s when I realised what a burden all the other responsibility had become.
When I had to take responsibility for someone who actually couldn’t take responsibility for themselves it seemed I had lots of other people who needed me to look out for or look after them. Or their feelings. Even their lives. I wondered how it had happened. Because it had been well hidden from my inner eyes. And I wondered if I was supposed to keep being responsible. It seemed obvious that my child needed me. But what about the others? Could they take responsibility for themselves? That was the point when I realised that I could put my burden down.
Strange as it might seem, or perhaps not, I felt incredibly guilty. It took me a long time to work through why that was. Finally I understood that being part of a community is about caring and sharing. But that there had to be a giving and receiving too. Eventually I began to spend time on my own. The solitude helped me to work out who was responsible for what. It also helped me to recognise that my first responsibility was towards me. To contribute I needed to be fit and able to do so. When I realised this I stepped back from the burden of expectations too. It became possible for me to look after my own needs before considering someone else.
The burden of responsibility that I most need to put down is the one I place on myself. The one that says I have to be everything to everybody. And forgets that I also have to be something to me. Now I try to help others put down their burden too.
Day 491 of my blogging challenge.