Updated: Mar 13, 2022
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
Many people live day to day carrying around a weight of burdens that they are not aware of.
Like bricks in a backpack slung on the back of shoulders out of range of vision, are these memories, beliefs and emotions that are heavy and debilitating.
As a therapist, one of the first objectives I have is to help people take off the backpack, pull out the bricks one by one, examine them, and decide if they want to carry the weight of those bricks around.
Of course these are not real physical bricks but they do carry emotional weight none the less. These "bricks" can hinder us from achieving the life we want to lead. As true weight on our shoulders might keep us from journeying as far as we’d like or overcoming obstacles, these invisible burdans have the same impact.
So how do we go about removing them. One way I procede is by encouraging an individual to tell their story. And through the telling of the story, together we can uncover events, associated memories, emotions and beliefs that are formed from the events. Then we can challenge and replace those beliefs that may not be true.
It is often helpful to do this work with a trained therapist especially if one has experienced trauma or abuse. A therapist can pace the therapy, provide safety and help individuals process heavy emotions, and cope with intense triggers.They will also use evidence based treatment strategies that have been proven to work. For anyone who has suffered from trauma or abuse I would urge them to do this work with a trained therapist and not try to do it on their own.
However, for many people, insight can be gained by doing some self-reflective exercises to help explore what metaphorical bricks may be back there in the backpack holding you up.
You Can't know what You don’t know
This is one of those very simple but profound truths that therapists use to help explain how insight can occur. So much of our behavior is driven by unconcious or subconcious motives. Until we examine our own self talk, our own belief system and challenge those subconcious and sometimes competing motivators we may be discouraged with ourselves and others. These subconscious forces tend to drive our behavior and even baffle us as we try to understand why we can’t do what we really want to do as we struggle to be who we really want to be.
One simple way to start to uncover belief systems to journal. Journaling often opens up windows to those parts of the mind that are often outside of our awareness. Regular journaling can help us see patterns and tease out our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world around us. Once those words are in front of us, we can evaluate them for truth, for evidence that support the beliefs and evidence that counters the beliefs.
There are many other ways to to get to the heart of what drives us and what hinders us. I can't explore it all in this blog post. In the future I’ll discuss other methods but if you want a good starting point start with journaling.
Journaling can take many forms, some people start or end the day with writing their free flowing thoughts, some keep a topical journal such as a gratitude journal or a mood journal, even an art journal and some write from prompts.
I’ll end this with a simple prompt.
Write about a childhood memory. Then explore the theme of the memory. What belief about yourself, others or the world does this memory evoke?
You can do this for different years of your life. Then ask yourself, does this belief help you or hinder you? If if hinders you, can you find evidence in your life experiences or
relationships that doesn’t support it? If it is a hinderence to you, imagine removing it like a brick and replace it with a truth that is light and encouraging to you. It's important to replace those beliefs. When you replace them you leave no room for them to return. I think that might be why Jesus says to take His yoke upon you, in the above verse. Replacing our own beliefs about ourselves, others or the world with His, gives us freedom. If you can't think of any replacement beliefs, is there someone you could ask to help you with it? Some beliefs that might apply "You are of great worth" "You are forgiven" "It's ok to make mistakes" "you are a precious child of the King" "You are loved as you are" "You are not alone" Again talking to someone about any of these that might be hard for you to accept could be benificial.
Again if this exercise is too intense and/or painful, stop and find something to distract yourself, such as something soothing and relaxing to do and then please consider doing this work with your own trained therapist. You can search the directory at Psychology Today to find someone near you.
I’m curious if you did this exercise, was it helpful or enlightening in any way? Do you know something about yourself that you didn’t know before? Comment below and let me know.
This post has been written as part of the FMF writting community. A community of writers that write for five minutes on a weekly prompt.