Do you have what I call, “Weight of the World Syndrome”?
How tightly are you gripping life?
Does it feel like the moment you relax everything will crumble around you?
Are you afraid that if you let off the gas even a little you will end up disappointing those you love?
Does it feel like the weight of all that is in your world – falls squarely on your shoulders?
One of my clients recently told me that everyday it felt like she was running as fast as she could around a race track crowded with people while juggling multiple balls in the air at the same time. All of her focus and energy was going to not falling down and dropping everything – or running into someone along the way.
My guess is that many of you can relate to this. Sounds exhausting right?
I see this habit of extreme responsibility-taking and time pressure so often that I’ve dubbed it “Weight of the World Syndrome”.
Here are some common symptoms:
- Your muscles are tight, your breathing is shallow, your shoulders are raised
- You respond to emails with lightening speed
- It feels like most everything is something you “should” do
- You work far beyond normal hours before delegating
- You feel responsible for managing the workload of others
- You live almost 100% in your thinking – always in the past or future
- Being available to others – when they need you – is your highest priority
- You chronically believe you are not doing enough with your time
- You’ve caught yourself resenting those who leave work on time
- You regularly take responsibility for how others feel
- On some level you believe you are indispensable
- You think working hard must be also be hard work
I love working with these folks. You get so much done. You make the world a better place. You consistently impact the lives of others in a positive way. You are amazing and not at all because of your accomplishments.
I am also a bit biased because I am a recovering World-Carrier myself. I feel comfortably uncomfortable in this role. I get the complete exhaustion of it and I understand the appeal.
You see, carrying the weight of the world has its advantages.
It can make you feel…
In control. This role keeps you focused on minimizing uncertainties. This can soothe the anxiety of the unknown.
Clearer about your priorities. When you live in the world of “shoulds” – taking care of others’ needs first – it becomes much easier to prioritize your day.
Safe. When you relentlessly serve others it looks as though you can minimize criticism and judgment. Of course this isn’t true. (Because “What others think of you is really none of your business.” – Martha Graham.)
Needed. Trusted. Relied Upon. Who doesn’t like to swoop in and save the day? When you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders you get to do this all the time. In fact, this becomes the expectation.
The challenge is that over time you get tasked with more and more work. With more projects and people to manage your world spins much faster.
Soon you are running at 100 mph convinced that if you can just work more efficiently and get other people to fall in line – you will be able to move fast enough to get everything done.
Over time you notice that your body doesn’t feel as good. You aren’t sleeping as well. You secretly want to slow down but the impossibility of that stares back at you from your mile-long to-do list.
You gobble up time management advice – maybe even hire a time coach – and it works. You are getting so much accomplished each day…and yet it still isn’t enough to “be done”. You still aren’t caught up – in fact you feel more busy then ever.
So how do you take the weight of the world off your shoulders? Here are three critical places to start
1. Start noticing (and expanding) all that you don’t have to manage. Managing and caring for all aspects of life is technically impossible. Start paying attention to the minor (and major) details that you don’t have to manage. Notice what happens when you let yourself off the hook even a little. Here’s a great place to start:
It isn’t your responsibility to make the sun rise and set each day.
Flowers bloom, trees grow, the wind blows, without your telling them to do so.
Even your beautiful body breathes itself of it’s own volition.
There are lots of other ways that life moves forward – in your own world – without your involvement. Look for these. Experiment with letting other duties fall into this category. People aren’t ever going to pick up the slack if they think you have it covered. There is a whole other life to live outside of doing.
2. Check in with your body. Are you gripping life? Can you breathe? Are you lost in your thinking?
The breath is the perfect access point to the present moment. Exhale to the point of your body dropping ever so slightly. Do this throughout the day. Build your body-awareness like a muscle.
What I have noticed is that this practice alone can have the most fascinating ripple effect. Peace and flow are possible when we give them a small window to emerge. Remember that you can’t stress yourself into a state of peace.
3. Trust the deeper wisdom inside. You are a spiritual being that is connected at all times to a deeper wisdom. Call it intuition, God, spirit, source whatever works for you – it is there waiting to be called upon. Remember that it truly isn’t all up to you.
Sound too simple? I promise you these 3 steps alone can give your shoulders the break they deserve. But don’t take my word for it. Try them out and see for yourself.
Are you ready to go deeper? My private and group coaching programs are designed to take the weight of the world off your shoulders and wake you up to a whole new way of navigating work and life that allows you to get far more done – without nearly so much stress.
I encourage you to check out my programs or set up a call if you’d like to learn more.