Do you ever hear people talk about the “pressure” they are under?

One of the many lessons that I learnt as a child in the Cubs and Scouts is that you can’t travel very far with a heavy backpack.

On my first few Cub camps my overzealous Mum would pack me off with a huge backpack full of socks, underwear, jumpers, chocolate bars, plates and cutlery. Plus a spare set of everything just in case the first one got wet. The trouble was, I learnt very quickly that you can’t travel very far with a heavy backpack. I would chuck out all of the spare stuff before I left (except the chocolate) so that I could walk further and faster on the hikes and camps that I loved so much (and still love today).

And now as a Coach, I see so many clients who are carrying around metaphorical mega-backpacks full of stuff that they haven’t used in a practical way for years if not decades.

Rather than being full of socks, these backpacks are filled with the weight of life’s disappointments, frustrations, judgements and all the bad stuff that has happened to the over the years. As days go on, the backpack gets heavier and heavier as more history is added. Soon, they can’t find the energy to be happy because they’re always carrying such a heavy load.

The pressure that we carry around is self-made
The backpack I carried for way too long by Brad Montague

You essentially carry the weight of your world on your back. And let’s be honest, carrying the weight of all our history makes life hard, heavy and disappointing. How can you be happy with all that extra weight quite literally weighing you down?

This pressure is usually metaphorical, yet it affects your wellbeing and decision making as if you are actually carrying weight on your shoulders. 

Because other people can’t put pressure on you unless they are actually standing on your shoulders.

Instead, the pressure you feel is your reaction to external events, situations and people, as seen through your own “filters, beliefs and prejudices”. Carry this stuff around long enough and burnout or mental health issues will add to your load.

So whilst it feels as if you are carrying around a backpack full of pressures that were put upon you, they are created and maintained by you and only you.

This graphic represents a good selection of the “issues” that I help clients to offload such that they feel lighter and more energetic to deal with life’s challenges.

The more resilient you are, the lighter the load you carry every day, and the more that you can bear on your shoulders when life throws problems at you.

Emptying your backpack

The first step in emptying your backpack is to work out what is in it!

This isn’t an easy thing to do on your own. To paraphrase Einstein “you cannot solve a problem from within the problem.”

So you need to get some perspective. Go talk to someone who you trust to tell it to you straight, and just ask them “what am I carrying around that it’s time to let go of?”

Once you’ve dealt with the shock of that, it’s time to let it go. This may be something that you can let go of easily, but if it’s not, find yourself a book on the subject or get in touch with a professional who can help.

The most powerful approach for dealing with these sorts of issues is Eye Movement Therapy. I provide this service for local clients or can recommend a local practitioner if we can’t deal with it online.

Then it’s time to test life without that weight around your shoulders. How does it change things?

And then it’s time to take a fresh look at the contents of your backpack. What’s next?

#resilience #pressure #coaching

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