There are several people that I know that are carrying around some extra weight, but not perhaps in the way you might think.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about mental weight.
It started for me about a year ago when I saw a friend that, due to the pandemic, I had not seen in almost a year.
During that year I had lost physical weight as well… about 3o pounds. So when she saw me she was a little surprised. She said all the wonderful, complimentary things about how I looked and thought there was something different about me.
I somewhat offhandedly remarked that what she was struggling to define was the amount of mental weight I had lost that was perhaps even more noticeable but harder to pinpoint.
But what is mental weight?
I have been working on developing a definition because this is the very area that I want to help people with. I know that the transformation I am making is not unique to me. It is a result of tools, thought work, and becoming more aware and intentional with my thoughts and inner dialogue.
So here is my working definition:
Mental weight is an accumulation of those things that “weigh” on your mind. This could include things such as what you are worried about, procrastinating on, and feeling anxious towards.
Personally, a lot of my mental weight comes from the expectations that I have for myself. Those expectations show up in the ways that I tell myself I “should” be. More specifically, it is in the ways that I tell myself I should be “more”- more present, more productive, more compassionate, more knowledgeable.
And as wonderful and altruistic as that sounds, thinking I need to be more means that on some level I am still thinking that I currently am not enough.
To give you a visual for your mental weight, it is as if you are carrying around a backpack. This backpack we carry with us everywhere. The mental and emotional weight we carry are like bricks in our backpack – weighing us down.
So what are some other bricks that we might be carrying around in our backpacks?
Maybe they are habits that don’t serve us – numbing behaviors such as watching things that don’t feed our souls, eating food that doesn’t really feed our bodies, and recycling thoughts that don’t feed our minds.
Where did some of these beliefs come from? Are they inherited from our parents? Did we learn them from a teacher or mentor? Are they old memories we keep replaying? Or are they feelings we are avoiding that are just brewing under the surface?
Maybe you think these are all things that are just a part of life – a part of being a responsible adult in the world. So what? It could be worse.
But when we tell ourselves it is just a part of life and we stop noticing the weight just because we are still functioning that we become complacent with the outcome.
What is the result of the “extra weight”?
It makes everything else in life a little harder. It makes life less fun and joyful.
Some researchers even suggest that the extra mental weight can often lead to extra physical weight as well. The stress hormones in our body can affect multiple things in our bodies. Not to mention that many of us engage in less than optimal behaviors that affect our health such as emotional eating and/or drinking to calm down or cheer ourselves up.
Take some time to watch the difference in how children and adults move in the world. Are children struggling under the weight of these invisible backpacks? Not usually. Children are often physically freer in their movements and the way they carry themselves.
But in today’s world children younger and younger are putting on their own invisible backpacks and starting to add their own bricks. How can we as adults help them to let go of those bricks? By doing that work ourselves and giving them an example to follow.
What are your thoughts about mental weight? Have you taken time to unpack your bricks and see them for what they are?
I’m Michelle. I am learning how to minimize my overwhelm, perfectionism, and people-pleasing and I am ready to help you do the same. I’m a certified Life Coach and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Come with me and learn how.
Next week I will talk about some of the ways you can begin to “lose the weight”. You can offer yourself some relief from the load in your backpack. “Contact Me” and send me a quick email if you would like to let go of some of this extra weight for yourself. We can unpack your backpack together and see what bricks you have been carrying around. If you prefer, you can “Schedule a Consult” for a free session to discuss the weight you want to let go of and how to get started.
And as always…..Remember…..It’s ALL good!!….. In the end!!! If it’s not good, it’s not the end!