“Burdens”: A Poem and Reflection

We carry a lot of burdens.

Some of them are burdens that people place on us that we don’t need to carry. This poem and the following discussion explores that idea.

I looked at my burden,
Not knowing where
Or why
I picked it up.
And then I saw
It wasn’t mine.
I finally put it
And walked away.

~Shelly Johnson

A Reflection On This Poem

In the past decade or so, I have realized that throughout my life I carried around a lot burdens that weren’t really mine to carry. They were burdens that someone else had placed on me and told me I HAD to carry.

They were burdens like perfectionism or the shame of feeling like I was too sensitive and that I thought too much. Or they were burdens like the shame that somehow I wasn’t good enough or “whatever else” enough.


Laying Down My Burdens

When I realized that these were burdens that other people had placed on me and that I didn’t have to carry around anymore, it dramatically changed my life for the better.

That was really the day I learned to love myself unconditionally, and it is one of the primary motivations that caused me to start this blog.

So I want to ask you today:

One: What burdens are you carrying around that are not your burdens to carry?

Two: How have other people told you or made you feel like you are not good enough or worthy enough or that there is something deeply wrong with you?

I also want to give you permission.

This pain is not yours to carry, and you have permission to cast it off and respect and love yourself unconditionally right now.


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You might also like this post:

The Do Enough Myth, Our Anxiety, and Healing Our Shame

Sunlight and flowers


10 thoughts on ““Burdens”: A Poem and Reflection”

  1. Shelly, one burden many of us carry around is this feeling that sometimes we have to act like somebody else. We don’t always present ourselves as the same person to all people and in all situations. I really liked this post. – tony

    1. Tony, I deeply sympathize with that feeling. I have experienced that same feeling before, too, and I still sometimes do. There are times when I feel like I have to hide a certain part of myself because it won’t be respected in certain environments. Perhaps it is a self-protection mechanism. Your good comment makes me think that while sometimes acting differently around different people is bad, sometimes it can be a wise thing, too. How does that strike you?

  2. I’m the QUEEN of carrying burdens that aren’t mine. It’s where most of my anxiety comes from. I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be someone that I think people will like more. I think it’s a common anxiety for us introverted types 🙂 Love the poem and that flower picture too.

  3. I felt a big capital YES within as I read your poem in the beginning! So much we carry and most it doesn’t belong to us. Each discomfort we feel is actually us choosing other’s definition often. What a relief to be able to recognize that! Your post as usual was a delight to me 🙂

  4. Feeling we are too quiet or intellectual or serious or introverted seems to be a theme! I think women especially try to dumb themselves down, lighten up, and be totally delightful and uncontroversial all of the time. As I get older I realise it is ok if not everyone likes what I’m saying.

    1. I totally agree, Ali. I did not realize until I was older how much pressure I got when I was younger to not think so much or to not feel so much, and now I realize how inhospitable to me as a woman that was. I am with you–I am becoming increasingly comfortable with people not liking everything I say.

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