“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.” ~Najwa Zebian
One of the first tasks in a personal growth course was to ask three close friends to share their top three characteristics. I did it to make me look at myself in the same way that others see me.
At the time, my confidence was low and I couldn’t truly see myself. I didn’t remember who I was or what I wanted. This assignment helped me to increase my self-confidence and view myself through a wider lens.
When I received my answers, which I did vulnerably ask, I was immediately dissatisfied. I found commonalities between all three lists, particularly around the issue of responsibility. The problem was, I didn’t see responsibility as a positive trait. In fact, I didn’t want to be responsible; I wanted to be light, fun, and joyful.
Though I understood that my loved ones shared this trait in a positive light—as in I was trustworthy and caring—intuitively, I knew responsibility was my armor. It was my way of protecting and controlling, but deep inside, it allowed me to feel free and authentic to myself.
I didn’t trust life. Because of my fear for what could or might not happen, I was unable to trust life. In my darkest moments, my imagination was free to run wild and I believed I could make it through any situation.
I thought that if I oversaw everything, it would get taken care of correctly and then I’d be safe from the pain of life. The pain in life was not only my own, but my family’s, the local community’s, and the world’s. To make everything perfect, I had to plot and plan a solution.
I saw myself as a doer—a person that takes actions and makes stuff happen. My strength was in pushing myself to find solutions. I also took pride at my ability work hard and multitask and being clever. However, my feelings of resentment and exhaustion grew over time.
The weight of the world became too heavy over time. It was too much for my shoulders to carry and it made me incapable of managing so many balls. I needed to let go.
It was difficult to control many situations, some of which were not my fault. Yet, there were many people who I love and many dangers.
Being in constant responsibility required me to remain alert and on guard. My absence meant that I couldn’t have any fun and was not present. I didn’t understand how to enjoy life while being responsible. These were competing needs and I ended up missing joy completely.
It was my belief that joy could be saved for the vacation I’m going on next month or for the wedding I am attending. To be able to resume my responsibility, I always put off joy.
But being a doer, and accepting responsibility for situations that weren’t in my control led to consequences. I was unhappy and drained, constantly wondering why I couldn’t just relax and enjoy life.
Even though I had a wonderful vacation, my mind was still agitated and I couldn’t have any fun. I told myself once x,y,z was taken care of, then I’d feel calm, but then something new would come up and I’d be thinking about that instead of enjoying my trip.
This powerful realization left me feeling more secure feeling anxiously and tense that feeling happy.
It served me in a strange way. It was too easy to be happy and feel unsafe, while staying on the edge for any future catastrophes felt more secure. This was how I didn’t want to live my life.
The armor was a burden that I needed to be free from. I wanted my life to be easy and to have faith.
I understood that I could take care of myself without the responsibility. It was clear that I could be reliable and compassionate without feeling stressed out or grave. These were false expectations that I placed upon myself and they had to be removed.
Once I realized that solving the world’s problems was harming my health and that I was choosing fear over joy out of a false sense of security, I decided to give myself permission to feel the discomfort and vulnerability of happiness. This allowed me to trust, let go, love, trust and play my life.
I set boundaries for myself. It was me who had put the responsibility onto my shoulders. I chose to do this out of fear and not because of love. I had to let go of knowing everything that was going on in other people’s lives and the world and take space from social media, friends, and family to make space for me.
Joy was something I learned to cultivate by being present every day and making time for things that I enjoy.
Yoga classes were my favorite, as was watching comedy and going to the beach. I also continued on with personal development.
I learned that although I was great at multi-tasking and pushing through, it wasn’t what I wanted. My dreams were my goals and I was determined to live my life.
That meant that I had to feel the uncertainty, sadness, and danger of life’s circumstances without jumping in to fix anything. I had to take a step back and bring awareness to my thoughts so I wouldn’t unconsciously join the merry-go-round of solving problems.
Although I started out in all of these areas, I found joy as I continued to practice and spread my knowledge onto others. Surprisingly, friends would tell me how I inspired and helped them—not by solving their problems but by being bold enough to enjoy my life.
Set boundaries for yourself if you don’t want to stress about others and not enjoy living your life. Stay in your lane and focus on the areas you have direct control over—your attitude, your daily activities, and your perspectives.
Slow down and invest your time in activities that make you happy. You can’t protect anyone from what’s coming in the future, but you can enjoy your present by letting go and opening up to joy.
Orly Levy, an intuitive life coach and writer. Her guidance is for sensitive souls who struggle to recognize their talents. She offers one-on-one sessions to help others connect with the “What is”, release blocks, and reconnect with their intuition to find true peace. Visit her virtual home for tools, to schedule a free session, and follow her on Instagram.
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