Virtues from Motherhood: Who does this belong to?

A few weeks ago a fellow Buzz Blogger, Neffi, wrote a post about protecting your own energy and how we don’t realize how the people and the environment around us can greatly impact our own energies. After I read her post it reminded me of a question my counselor told me to ask myself “who does this belong to?” meaning, are these my woes or someone else’s that I was taking on? And if the troubles weren’t mine I should give them back. Now, this isn’t to say that I should be throwing people’s problem’s back at them but it simply means that I can’t be carrying other people’s burdens for them.

Having anxiety makes my own problems and worries amplified as it is, so taking on the problems or responsibilities of others doesn’t help me any. I have a history of internalizing the things other people are experiencing and somehow letting it affect my life and my own happiness. For example, if someone was moving or changing jobs and was a little stressed out over it, suddenly I was stressed out too, and my anxiety would run wild making it somehow affect me. I’d wonder if their moving would change our friendship, would we still be friends? Would they still want to hang out? Did they ever really want to?? You can see how quickly that can escalate when you take on other people’s situations as your own.

So the “who does this belong to?” rule is monumentally helpful in stopping that spiral before it starts, I even say it out loud to myself at times because it makes it more valid to me. Before I start to worry I ask myself that question and if I can’t legitimately pinpoint how this will affect me, my life, my daughter or my well-being, I force myself to leave it alone.

I still give my friend’s advice and listen to their problems or what’s bothering them and I still make every effort to be there for them. However, I focus more on helping them and being there than worrying for them. I also learned this year that sometimes you need to return the energy people give to you; if they aren’t there in your hour of need, why should you rush to theirs at your own expense. Learning balance is key, and people earn the place they wish to have in your life.

At the end of every day as you lay your head down and run through your final list of “to-do’s” and lingering worries you should keep stock of the things that need to get done, for you. Worry about what you can do for others needs after your own needs are met, think of that demonstration at the begin of every airplane flight; the one where the flight attendant tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. The moral of the story there is, you can’t help others if you’re not okay. So next time you worry if someone else is okay, ask who’s worry that really is and if you’re doing okay today first.

2 thoughts on “Virtues from Motherhood: Who does this belong to?

  1. I have often made the same mistake of claiming others’ problems as my own in a warped gesture of empathy. Even worse, sometimes I worry myself too much by assuming that others’ experiences will also become my own (for example, if someone I know and love had certain issues in his/her marriage, that means it would be inevitable for me to face the same fate). I know now that this is not healthy or rational. I will definitely ask myself “Who does this belong to?” more often. Thank you for this gem. 🙂

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