We are all managing a range of responsibilities and challenges in our lives. I like to view each of these as a book that I carry, metaphorically speaking.
I hold some books all of the time, because I want to keep them close to me, whereas others I can choose to pick up or put down whenever I need to. Some of the books don’t belong to me – I may hold on to them for someone else for a little while, but always with the intention of giving them back if they feel too heavy. Others are added by another person, out of my control. And then there are the books that I choose to challenge myself with…the ones that go on top of everything else.
When I feel strong, I can carry more books, but it’s important that I remember I should never carry so many that I can’t see where I’m going. When I am tired, emotionally or physically, I have learned the importance of minimizing how many books I carry, in order to prevent dropping them all. Sometimes I ask a friend or family member to help me carry some, assuming they’re willing and able, just until I feel strong enough to take them back again.
This mental picture helps me be compassionate to myself, but still challenge my comfort zone when sensible. We should not expect ourselves to carry our maximum load day in, day out. Allowing for times that we only carry a few books enables us to recover and build the strength to take on more, for a little while at least.
So, be thoughtful about how many books you are holding, whether they belong to you and whether you should put some down or add some more. Appreciate that life is variable, so the number of books you hold is likely to change regularly. Don’t overload yourself – be compassionate, realistic and responsible about how much you can manage at any one time.