Carrying other people’s stuff

So, today’s blog is a lot about me.  Maybe I am sharing a bit too much but it’s a blog and I am ok about you knowing a bit more about me.  Probably as most of  you already know me this will come as no surprise.

I have a big notice on my fridge which says, “IT’S NOT MINE”.  It is there to remind me not to take on other people’s stuff. No mean feat. Well not for me anyway. I am a past master on taking on emotions that are not mine.   When the children were little, they would come home crying about a fight they had with so and so and fret at night about not wanting to go back to school.  I would have a sleepless night. In the morning I would wave them off with trepidation in my heart worrying what so and so would say or do to them in the playground. I am embarrassed to admit that one time I went to the school at playtime and hid behind a tree just to make sure that one of my boys was ok. I know- really OTT.

So, as I awaited his return from school on tender hooks about what might have happened, he breezed in smiling with a “Hi Mum.”

“How was it” I asked nervously.

“All good mummy.”

“What about…  ”

” Oh, that’s all forgotten we are best friends now,” he said switching on the tv.

So, while he moved on, I was left carrying all his stuff.  Despite understanding this ‘carrying stuff’ thing I still find it very hard to leave the lady at the river.

For those new to my blog who don’t know the Buddhist parable ‘Lady’ and ‘River’ see below:


A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After re-joining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?” 

In my head I say to myself ‘put the lady down’ but it doesn’t always work.

Highly sensitive people – of which I am one – have an immense capacity for empathy. We are often the caregivers for our friends and family. Our empathy often surpasses that of the regular definition of the word. Rather than simply noticing what someone else is feeling, many of us actually feel it ourselves, in our own bodies.

I have come to realise that I am prone to feeling depleted and drained by the emotional pain of others and this can often manifest itself physically. It was a trait that I shared with Tod. We were both highly sensitive people. I cared and nursed Tod for 9 months when he was so sick and while I outwardly I remained calm and in control inwardly it was clearly having a devastating  effect on my body  from which I am still recovering. I couldn’t understand why I  kept getting sick with ailment after ailment when normally I don’t get ill.  It was a wakeup call to  the effects of emotional stress on the body.  Obviously, this was an extreme situation but as an Empath – which is the term used to describe describe people who absorb the world’s joys and stresses like emotional sponges  – I know I have work to do.

So,  for anybody who  might  recognise  these emotions in themselves or in friends  below are some of the symptoms to look out for.

  •  Natural giving, spiritually open, and a good listener.
  • Absorbing other people’s emotions
  • Overwhelmed in crowds
  • Highly intuitive
  • Need alone time
  • Overwhelmed in intimate relationships and afraid of losing my identity.
  • I need the natural world to nourish and restore me
  • I have highly tuned senses and can get frayed by noise smells or excessive talking.


Right now  I am walking around the garden repeating “IT’S NOT MINE” as a situation evolves in our house. I am on my 5th lap hopefully by lap 10 I will be on top of it.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Author: ladyserendipidy

Journalist, event planner, mother, animal lover, not very good bridge or scrabble player, hopeless housekeeper, ex social worker, radio producer, tv executive, hater of almost all insects especially the eight legged ones. And if I am ever allowed out of my house, intrepid traveler.

2 thoughts on “Carrying other people’s stuff”

  1. I totally understand this. I recognise the issue of being left worrying about someone when the mere act of sharing something with me has healed them and they have moved on. I retain their anxiety/pain and they seem fine. A friend of mine has given me a phrase that I repeat at such times,’it is not my monkey’. Maybe I am too sensitive and too empathic but I really envy people who seem to be able to brush things off I am working on this and hopefully I’m better than I was.
    ‘its not my monkey’.


  2. No one knows better than I the extent and power of your empathy and care. It is why you are so greatly loved by so many. No, it should not become a threat to your own welfare, but you will never be someone who can turn away from someone you care about in need. Which, nonetheless, does not contradict the parable.


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