October 17, 2019

Ask Before Dumping Your Baggage

There's this video I see that gets shared every so often on Facebook or LinkedIn, with a Black taxi driver getting yelled at, and he explains calmly how everyone is like a garbage truck, walking around with a whole lot of garbage and needing somewhere to dump it. Sometimes that means you get dumped on, but it's nothing personal.

OK. Nice concept, but isn't that what therapy is for? Rather than dumping your shit on innocent random people or the people you love the most, maybe you should see a therapist.

Realistically speaking, not everyone goes for therapy, and it's also valid to have a trusted venting buddy for the more daily issues that pop up. All that said, no matter how good friends you are, you should still ask before venting/dumping.


Because emotional labour comes at a cost. You're basically dropping off a whole lot of heavy baggage at their front door and making them carry it around for you, or find a spot for it in their home. And those of us in the giving/caring professions, or those with families, or those with disabilities, or those who are minorities....for a whole bunch of different reasons, we often aren't as strong or able-bodied to take on extra loads than what we're already carrying, or our homes are already so packed with our own baggage and clutter, that we truly cannot find a spot for yours. We're bursting at the seams.

Even worse, many of us who are highly sensitive or empathetic are this way because we come from trauma. So we want to give and please. We want to listen. We want to be available the way no one ever was for us. We want to minimize harm, but I've come to realize, my fear of disappointing you comes at a great cost to me, as I am the one now stuck with your baggage.

People have always come to me with intensely emotional and personal things. And that has only intensified as I am more in the public eye. I also believe my writing makes people feel a connection with me, even though they don't know me personally, they think they do. So they also feel it is OK to message or email me personally. They come, dump, and disappear. Or they come, dump, and appear periodically, whenever they need to dump another load.

What they don't realize is, they are not alone. On any given day, I may receive three or four such dumps, out of the blue, never asking me if I am busy, or even interested. I am expected to drop everything to attend to this rant/complaint/confession/personal issue and then once they are done, they fly off again, much lighter.

I am not telling people never to vent, but I am asking you to ask if it is safe to do so, or if it is the right time, place and person to do it with.

You can say, "I have something sort of heavy..." or "something really frustrated me and I need to vent, is now a good time?" or "are you available?"

Again, a person with PTSD or bad previous experiences might still oblige even if they really shouldn't, but you at least have a chance of getting an honest person who will set boundaries.

Good examples of what to say to people demanding of your time and energy are:

"I'm out of bandwidth."
"I can't right now, but can I check in with you later?"
"This is not a good time."
"I am not the best person to ask."
"I have exactly 5 mins and then I have to go."

Notice how I didn't put any softeners or apologies? Don't apologize for setting boundaries and guarding your time and own mental health.

No one is owed anything. You do not owe anyone your time or mental/emotional energy or labour. Be conscious of the person you are demanding labour from and if granted, please express some gratitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from readers. Thanks for your comments!