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 you do!

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

When it’s back to school time kids across the country get out their backpacks and decide 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, weigh them down and hurt their backs.

I want you to do the same, friend, and decide what you need in your backpack. No, not a literal backpack but figuratively speaking with your emotional backpack and the things you carry around in your life. Not exactly sure what I’m talking about? Let me explain.

What’s In Your Emotional Backpack?

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Emotional backpack meaning

While you may not be able to see or feel it, you’re carrying a backpack around on your back. Much like a student preparing for school you get to choose what you put inside your backpack.

Some things in your backpack are fun and light but other things are hard and heavy. 

Years ago when I learned about the emotional backpack from my counselor she opened my eyes to the fact that I was carrying around a ton of things that weren’t necessary. I was unintentionally weighing myself down.

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

Even to this day when I’m processing through a situation I’ll remind myself, “that’s not in your backpack.” This thought process changed my life and I want the same for you!

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

Does that really need to be in your emotional backpack?

There are a ton of things weighing down your backpack, but I want to share five specific ways that you may be loading yourself down with things that you don’t really need in your emotional backpack.

Some things you can’t help but have in your backpack (at least for this season of your life), but most of the time you can choose whether or not you have something in your 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 five questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether or not you should be carrying that extra weight around.

yellow and white flowers in a vase

1. Is it something you’re capable of fixing?

I don’t know about you but many times I try to take on problems that don’t belong to me. (Please tell me I’m not alone!)

Whether it be issues that my extended family are dealing with or problems my friends are facing, I want to try to fix them. 

Here’s the hard truth, friend, taking on other people’s problems will only cause yourself heartache. 

Unless it’s not something you’re capable of fixing it’s not really your problem and shouldn’t be in your emotional backpack. You don’t need to put their problems in your backpack because they will only weigh you down. 

When their problems come to mind and you begin to mull them over I recommend that you pray for that person and ask that the Lord give them the wisdom for their situation. Give it to the Lord and try your best to let it go.

2. Will worrying about it make the situation better?

We both know the answer to this question is an emphatic no. But let’s face it, there are many times when we begin to worry about situations we’re walking through. 

Maybe a friend doesn’t agree with a decision you’ve made. Or perhaps you constantly ask yourself, “what if this happens” or “what if that happens.” 

When worries cloud your mind ask yourself if that’s something you really want to be weighed down with. Does it need to be in your emotional backpack?

I love what 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Give your worries to Him. I promise He can handle them!

Related:  Learn how to worry less with these 8 worry stoppers

three women holding hands facing a blue and white striped building

3. 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 in one sitting. It goes without saying but it’s highly unlikely that you won’t 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

4. 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.

Overfilling your calendar, overcommitting yourself and your family and not having any white space in your day bogs you down and fills your emotional 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

5. 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 my son 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 emotional backpack?

Your backpack is weighed down with so many things, many of which aren’t necessary.

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

What can you let go, say no to or step back from that will give your shoulders a little lighter load to carry?

If helped you determine what’s in your emotional backpack and what you need to let go of, you should definitely check out: