Sitting in a swivel chair completely covered by a gown, I sat with my eyes shut tight (but my ears wide open) as my lifelong friend (and almost as lifelong hair stylist) shared with me the tricks of her trade.
I had come into her salon with a weary heart and she knew it. We bounced around topics faster than she was putting color on my hair and snipping away all my split ends.
Knowing that she listens to countless men and women tell their stories (and unburden themselves) each and every day…I couldn’t help but ask the question, “How do you hear so much bad news every day and not allow it to take you under emotionally?”
Believe me, I was all ears, because of late it seemed most of the news I had been hearing was painfully hard to take in (or take on) and I was feeling the weight of burdens not meant for me to carry.
My friend sort of laughed and then told me her trick…after years of having taken on too many of her clients’ problems (and carrying them home with her) she finally realized an important truth. She could be a caring listener and a messenger of encouragement, but she wasn’t anyone’s healer…anyone’s savior.
At that moment, my friend realized she could either continue to take on people’s burdens to the extent that she felt so over-burdened herself she became paralyzed, defeated, and unable to do anyone (including her children, family and friends) any good or she could (lay her burdens of care down at the end of each day.)
Smart woman that she is…she opted for the second (and all around healthier) choice. And I know for a fact, she’s a living, breathing emotionally fitter individual for having done so.
And as soon my friend laid her scissors down and it was safe for me to start nodding my head in agreement…I told her she was the second person within one week to give me that same mental picture of putting burdens down at the end of every day.
In both instances, the truth I need to get inside my head is that, I can listen and offer a message of encouragement, but I cannot presume I am in the position to be anyone’s healer. I am not.
Like most lessons in life, I seem to require multiple reminders before it sinks into my head…today’s visit to the salon just wasn’t where I was expecting to hear it.
The message is clear now — the people in my life who will tell me the truth I need to hear (and repeat it as often as I need reminded) are truly acting as “burden lifters” toward me. And don’t we all need at least a few people we trust enough to “get inside our heads?”