Recently, I was at a school inter-house sports competition and they played this game called, wheelbarrow. Participants were grouped into pairs and in each pair, one person would hold up the other’s legs, while the other person (who is the “wheelbarrow’) walked on their hands. After a while, they would switch places until they got to the finish line. The fastest pair was the winner.
I took note of a particular team. They started out well, I think they were even in second place at the first leg, but the problem started when they switched places. You see, the other person who had been the pusher and had suddenly become the wheelbarrow, was plump. But unfortunately, her partner was slender. The slender girl simply couldn’t hold up the big girl, who was going at a fast pace. The slender one dropped her legs often and soon became visibly irritated. She stomped her foot and moaned in frustration, but it was simply impossible for her to hold on to the other girl for a considerable amount of time. Needless to say, they did not win, they couldn’t even finish the race.
This incident was very comical to watch, seeing the slender girl whine and stomp her foot every time she dropped her partner had us all in stiches, but after a while, I no longer found it funny. It occurred to me that too many times in life we find ourselves paired up with the wrong person. Someone who has too much baggage, someone who does not share our values, someone who is too dependent on us or someone who has shouldered you with the responsibility for their lives.
I couldn’t get this real life scenario out of my mind, I thought to myself, “who am I carrying that’s slowing me down?” And you should ask yourself this too. This person can be a sibling, a friend, a colleague, your spouse, and yes, your child. We all are responsible for our own lives, and part of this responsibility is recognizing unprofitable relationships. One of the things I have had to learn in my life is that not every relationship is important. Some people you hold close and others you greet hello “from the other side.”
The hard reality is that there are people who expect others to fix them. They will simply not take responsibility for their decisions and are quick to blame everyone but themselves for their failures. They sound like this.
“Oh, I failed this course because you my friend didn’t teach me. You are selfish!”
“Mum, I have not done well in life because you did not give me all I needed as a child.”
“I am not successful in this business because you my friend, do not share your resources with me.”
“I could not pay my children’s fees because you my uncle, are too selfish to loan it to me.”
“I’m stressed because you my wife, gave birth to too many children.”
“You’re my girlfriend and I don’t have a job, why can’t you get me something in your company? Maybe I would have had a job if you were thinking more about me.”
“I am not as successful as I wanted to be, because I gave up my life to raise you and so you must give me everything I want.”
“I hate my husband because he won’t give me what I want. Why can’t he do everything he can to make me happy?”
It is always someone else’s fault. And such people because of how close they are to you, can make you feel like a captive. You second guess your actions around them, you can’t tell them certain things because they might misunderstand you, you feel suffocated in their presence, and ultimately, you blame yourself just as much as they blame you. It’s difficult for you to progress in life or be happy about your successes because they are always there to impede on your progress with their demands, or make you feel bad that your life is great and theirs isn’t. And so just like that girl, no matter how hard you try, you keep getting frustrated because you know that life is a race and you’re not winning.
I think that sometimes, and I say this hoping that I am not misunderstood, you need to let some people go. Not all relationships are expedient for you. Critically assess the relationship in question, and if you realize that you are the one who is always carrying the other person, let them go. You are not responsible for anyone’s happiness but yours. You’ll have to recognize those who genuinely need help and those who are just looking for someone to carry their problems on their behalf.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice and you have to keep running with this person who is “too heavy” for you to carry. If the person slowing you down for instance is your spouse, child or parent, your options might be limited. So in this situation I’d say, employ all the diplomatic skills you can, and in extreme cases, distance yourself from such a person. I recently heard the story of a woman who used her son’s name for a fraudulent business transaction. I was shocked! Definitely put a wedge between you and such a person if you are in a similar situation.
Anyway, I just thought I’d share this with you. I hope this helps, please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are about this in the comments.