Do you feel like you’re carrying around the weight of the world on your shoulders? It’s time to free yourself up by figuring out what’s in your emotional backpack. I have no doubt that your shoulders will feel lighter once we’re done!

(Need more encouragement and inspiration? Check out my be inspired posts here.)

woman in a red coat with black backpack looking at a mountain

It’s back to school time and that means kids across the country are getting out their backpacks and deciding exactly what needs to go in them. The key in this process is not to have too much in a backpack or it’ll be too heavy and bog them down.

I want you to do the same, friend. Not with a literal backpack but figuratively speaking with your emotional backpack and the things you carry around in your life.

What exactly is an emotional backpack?

Years ago I went to see a counselor. (It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and I highly recommend it for anyone and everyone.) Janice was actually the first person to introduce me to the emotional backpack thought process. She opened my eyes to the fact that I was carrying around a ton of things that weren’t necessary.

When I would talk about something she would always say, “That’s not in your backpack, Tshanina. You don’t need to worry or think about that.”

All these years later I have remembered this thought process. I guess you could say it changed my life!


grey and black hiking backpack and cyan tumbler on grey rock during sunset

Does that really need to be in your backpack?

While we may not be able to see or feel it, we’re all carrying a backpack around on our back. There are a ton of things weighing down our backpacks, but I believe there are three specific ways that we are loading ourselves down with things that we don’t really need in our backpack.

Some things we can’t help but have in our backpack (at least for this season of our life), but most of the time we can choose whether or not we have something in our backpack or not. Free yourself up by letting go of a few things.

Would you be willing to take a few minutes and empty out your emotional backpack, see exactly what you’re carrying around and decide what you want to put back in?  Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether or not you should be carrying that extra weight around.


three women holding hands facing a blue and white striped building

1. Who are you spending your time with?

You may not realize it but the people you intentionally spend time with are either life giving or draining.

A few years ago a friend called and said, “I need your help. I need you to come over because I need someone to talk to.”

I went over to her house and we chatted for quite a while. I carefully listened as she told me what was going on but then I gave her some next steps that she needed to take to turn her unhealthy situation around and help her move forward.

A few weeks later when I checked in on her to see how things were progressing I realized that she didn’t really want my help. She wanted to stay where she was and make her problems my problems.

You’re not responsible for other people’s happiness.

Spending time with her became very draining to me and I realized that it was an emotionally unhealthy situation for me. I eventually had to take a step back from this relationship because her problems weren’t my problems. She needed to own her situation and take the necessary steps to help herself.

I couldn’t choose to make my friend happy. She had to choose to take the steps that were necessary to have a healthier life, but sadly she didn’t want to.

woman walking down a road with trees on the both sides

Stepping back can be hard!

Taking a step back from our friendship was very hard because I’m a fixer and I wanted her to be in a healthier place. But she had to want it for herself. Now, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be friends with her, but it just told me how much time I could spend with her.

If you find yourself in a relationship where you need to take a step back, take some time to really think about how much time you can spend with that person. Maybe getting together once a month for an hour is a healthy boundary to put in place. Figure out what that looks like before you meet again so you’ll know how much time you can spend with them before really getting drained.

Stepping back doesn’t mean you can’t love or help them. It just lets you know how much time you can spend with them at once. And it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to go on vacation with people that are draining. It’s all about putting healthy boundaries in place!

For more encouragement check out Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This book will help you learn how to deal with unhealthy relationships.


table with calendar and flowers

2. What’s On Your Calendar?

Time is such a precious commodity. We all get the same 24 hours in a day…and we all get to decide what to do with that 24 hours.

I know I talk about this a lot but it’s because it’s my mission to help you live an abundant life. Overfilling your calendar, overcommitting yourself and your family and not having any white space in your day bogs you down and fills your backpack with unnecessary things.

I talk to so many ladies who tell me all of the things that they’re going and doing. They’re exhausted and barely surviving.

I don’t want you to merely survive but to thrive.

(Now I know that there are seasons of life where you’re on the go more than others. Moms of teenagers in particular are on the go more than moms of toddlers.) Sometimes you can’t help but have a full calendar, but many times you can!

Take an honest look at your calendar. Are all the things you have scheduled necessary? Do you have any white space? What can you easily remove?


yes text on brown sand

3. What are you saying yes to?

The school called and they want you to volunteer for an upcoming event. You don’t really want to, don’t have the time, but don’t want to tell them no. After all, that would make you look like a horrible mom. (Does this scenario sound familiar?!)

When you say yes to one thing you’re saying no to something else. 

You’re saying no to your family or perhaps doing something that you truly enjoy.

Saying yes to everything means that when something you’d absolutely love to commit to comes around you have to say no because you don’t have any extra room in your schedule. Don’t be too busy to do the things that bring you joy!

If you have a hard time saying no I want you to check out 4 questions to ask yourself before saying yes. (I have to refresh myself on this often so you might need a refresher too.)

Just because there is a need doesn’t mean you’re the answer. 

A friend that I’ve done side work for contacted me and asked me if I was interested in doing some work for her. I mulled it around and was thinking I would love to have the extra cash, but that was the only positive thing. The negatives were that I would be taking away from family time and I would likely be stressing more than I needed to be. So I chose to say no to her because it wasn’t a good fit for me.

pink petaled flowers on white ceramic plate

No doesn’t mean forever.

Years ago I used to do web design. When Dalton entered our world I had to decide what I wanted to do with my time. I had chosen to stay home with him so I had to cut some things out of my schedule.

I knew I still wanted to blog and hang out with you online but I didn’t have time for both the blog and the web design. I had to decide to say no to the web design.

Just because I said no for this season, doesn’t mean it’s no forever. And that same rule applies to you, my friend!

What can you say no to?

I want you to think about the things that are on your schedule right now…maybe for the next week or few months.

What have you said yes to that drains your energy or isn’t life giving to you? What are you volunteering for that you absolutely dread? What do you know you need to say no to (if only for this season)?

For more encouragement check out learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.


female hiking through woods

What’s in your backpack?

Your backpack is weighed down with so many things and many of those things are unnecessary. You don’t need to have them in your life and you can let go, say no or step back from them.

I encourage you today to empty your backpack and decide what you want to put back in.

What can you unload today that will give your shoulders a little lighter load to carry?


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