Doctor Libby on being the ‘remember’

Most people in the world feel some sort of pressure from time to time. For others, it feels relentless. There are likely degrees of it and we can only know the load that we each carry—you can’t know the full extent of the load another carries.

However, in most organised groups—families and businesses, for example—there is typically someone who is the ‘Rememberer’ of most of the details. They are the one who carries the invisible load, or do what some refer to as the emotional labour. The others (knowingly or unknowingly) tend to passively wait for directions. With all the remembering and foreseeing the Rememberer does, there tends to come a sense of immense responsibility. The classic internal statement of those carrying an invisible Rememberer load is ‘if I don’t do it, it won’t get done’. The others exclaim, ‘I would have helped if only you’d asked’.

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Some people will be Rememberers in one part of their life and in others they will wait for directions. Other people will hold the mantle of Rememberer firmly in all areas of their lives and they’ll likely be feeling the full weight of the heavy load. Trying to foresee the major and minor discomforts that might come if a ball gets dropped, they wish that there was some respite from this burden they carry. But they feel as though they can’t take a break because, if they did, their whole world would fall apart. Plus, because the load they carry is invisible, there’s not a list or a run sheet to work from; it’s all about the little (and large) things in their head. They don’t see how they could take a month off from the remembering duties. So, it all feels relentless.

The invisible load carrier tends to not ask for help because they believe it’s just faster for them to do it themselves instead of having to ask and explain and remind. And probably remind again. With all the energy—mental and physical—as well as the time it takes to explain it all, they would have had it done. And yet the toll of holding all these moving parts and feeling as though there is no one else they can rely on to hold some of these responsibilities, can wreak havoc on a Rememberer’s body. It adds to the general sense of overwhelm and keeps the body constantly in a stress pattern. This stress can in turn affect sex hormone balance, sleep, digestion, thyroid function, and many other aspects of our health that can lead to us feeling pretty average on a day-to-day basis. Not to mention on edge emotionally because you feel as though no one understands your burden.

If you resonate with being the Rememberer in the groups you are part of, take steps towards delegating some tasks and teach others what you know they could handle. From a teenager being given the job of cooking a family meal one night a week, to a staff member taking on the responsibility for correcting the spelling errors that you’ve been fixing in the board reports at work, look for opportunities to delegate and educate so your invisible task load starts to decrease. In other words, look for ways to share your load.

It might take a little extra time in the short-term while you are working to hand over some responsibilities, but the benefits of sharing the load on your health will make it so worthwhile in the long run.

Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author, speaker and founder of the plant-based supplement range Bio Blends. She is speaking about overwhelm throughout Australia in September and October and has just released her new book The Invisible Load: a guide to overcoming stress and overwhelm. Details at drlibby.com.