Don’t take on other people’s baggage

I worked on an emergency mental health/suicide hotline. One really busy night, early in my tenure, I answered the line. Before I got even one word out, a voice shouted into the phone, “I’m going to kill myself and then I’m going to kill you,” and hung up. I’ll confess that my first thought was, “At least you’ve got it in the right order.” But a moment later I had an “aha” moment. It’s wasn’t about me. In fact, since the caller had no way of knowing which of 14 staffers had answered, that anger and frustration had nothing at all to do with me.

It’s a lesson I have been able to carry over into my personal life. I no longer take on the baggage of other people’s emotions. I’m responsible for my own feelings and actions but not anyone else’s. (For anyone wondering, we were able to get emergency services to do a welfare check on the caller. No one was harmed or left in danger.) — Liz Sayre, 56

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