Broad Shoulders

On the seventeen mile drive between Darby and Hamilton in Montana, there’s a totem pole carver who does exquisite work. When I stood back to admire his creations, in my mind’s eye, I imagined the “weight” on the shoulders of the “person” on the bottom.

You’ve heard it said—or maybe even said it yourself—“No problem, I’ve got broad shoulders.” Meaning, I have the ability to take criticism, accept responsibility, or carry another person’s burdens.

When people ask about my role as a transformational life coach I respond, “I won’t walk in front you. I won’t walk behind you. I won’t carry you. I will, however, walk beside you.”

How many people are you carrying on your shoulders?


50 thoughts on “Broad Shoulders

  1. Dear Laurie. Thank you for a lovely post. It has really made me take a moment and think about the whole issue. I have carried a lot on my shoulders throughout the years.As I have gotten older I have come to a point in my life at which I do not want to be at the bottom of the totem..nor at the top. Is that bad? I hope it is not. Best wishes Nilgun

  2. Perhaps a better analogy for me would be a safety net–or lap–for loved ones if they need it.
    Our daughters are independent now, but we are always there for them; my mom may need more help soon, but I have siblings who will also help. I suppose only our cats are totally dependent on my husband and me–and one is in my lap now. 🙂

  3. Nice metaphor and beautiful totem pole. I suppose we all carry other people’s burdens from time to time, especially if you’re married or have children. Criticism can be hard to take sometimes, but equally, it can be very contractive, it all depends on how it is done or said. Having someone walking alongside us is often all we need to cope.

  4. In my best moments, I regard elderly relatives I have cared for with the Boys Town tag: “He ain’t heavy, mister, he’s my brother.” Personal possessions and property are a different matter. I’m oh so relieved that all of that has been disposed of or passed on to others. We are especially happy that a young couple is willing to restore Aunt Ruthie’s Victorian house to its former glory. A huge burden lifted!

    • Marian — I’m so happy that all of the “stuff” is now in the rearview mirror for you and yours.

      Oh how wonderful that a young couple is going to restore Aunt Ruthie’s Victorian house! 🙂

  5. I love this analogy of “walking beside” someone Laurie. It is, for the most part, all we can ever do. As you know, I have been walking beside someone in his survival and healing journey for almost eight years. There have been times when I have had to do much in order to insure his safety and well-being. There will likely be times in the future where this will be so again. However, my goal has always been (and remains) to “walk beside” and to teach how rather than do for – whenever this is possible. When it is not, then it becomes my responsibility and is no longer mentally or emotionally attached to my expectation of the other person. In this way, I can stand beside him in his loss, in our loss, without resentment. Caregiving provides endless daily opportunities to practice “walking beside” while balancing assessment of capacity as if it is on a string between the shoulder blades of the person being cared for and the caregiver. The flexibility in my knees and mind make all the difference…. and the caregivers group.

    Such an excellent question Laurie. All the best as always. 🙂

    • Terrill — The caregiving word picture you painted here is as beautiful as it is wise.

      The part that jumped out for me is: “…to teach how rather than do for – whenever this is possible.”

  6. Growing up the oldest child, I was primed for taking responsibility for others. Eventually, I learned, after numerous painful lessons, to let go. As a Leader Coach, I see myself as a partner, walking next to the person. For example, I’ve long valued the Zander’s enrollment practice outlined in their book, The Art of Possibility. “The practice of enrollment is about giving yourself as a possibilty to others and being ready to catch their spark; playing as partners in a field of light. In that way, I can serve as an animating essence!

      • Thanks Laurie. I finished last job assignment 7/7 and been working on projects around home, catching up on reading and posting again on my blog. I enjoy doing reading and writing while sitting in BN (Barnes and Noble) Cafe with a cup of coffee.
        When I am working at full time paid assignments I just don’t have the mental energy to work on the other things, except on occasion I get out to the cafe in the evening with my tablet etc. 🙂

      • It is. And this particular local BN has a LOT of REGULARS who hangout in the cafe. Some of us get to know each other, at least to know names, to say hello, and sometimes to have a chat. And I do enjoy observing others and sometimes inspired by them such as my post Judgement and Forgiveness.

  7. Lot of letting go the last few years , feels great. I am still carrying too much weight on my heart hips upper legs and upper arms. I do not have $ for plastic surgery and the drug company says I’m too old for the hormone therapy which could get the heart thickening removed. I exercise at least 2 hours a day plus dog walking. Taking a meditation weight loss class this month. Hopefully I will transition into some better feelings about the weight

  8. I am carrying to0 many others on my shoulders and some of them I think are maybe taking advantage of me – my knowledge and expertise for free. Or maybe they are just lazy. I like the idea of walking beside, but sometimes you can’t even do that and just need to let go of some people and things. And that is what I am trying to do.

    • Sharon — I agree. There are times when we need to let go of people, places, things, events, or opportunities that are are no longer positive, uplifting, constructive, or healing influences in our life.

  9. I adore that quote that you use Laurie …it’s so true .
    Em I think I’m more than enough to carry on one’s shoulders, I really don’t need anyone else …ask my hubby that’s what he’d say 😂

  10. I turn 70 next January and over the years I have been blessed with a few special friends and amazing teachers who walked at my side and sometimes carried me. I count you as one since you were my first Reiki teacher and that experience was life-changing for me. I am grateful for these relationships.
    As a mother, I feel we must carry our children for a while in the earlier years and then walk by their sides through the years. My 35-year-old son recently thanked me for “all our talks” over the years but I will still walk by his side.
    I currently have been in the “off-loading” mode manifesting in clearing out the “old” in my thinking, my relationships and even my house.

  11. Inspirational as always Laurie! Thank you! Broad shoulders – it seems like forever I’ve been carrying people I hold dear to me on my ‘shoulders’ but perhaps even closer than that – in my heart ❤️ It’s a great privilege as a mom to my grown kids, as a friend too to do this. Thanks for sharing- learn so much from your posts …

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