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Emotional Hitchhikers


Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker? I'm guessing you have. I’m not talking about your average hitchhiker here. I’m talking about emotional hitchhikers, unwelcome guests who latch on and disrupt the balance of your personal load.

When I was a child, I lived on a small farm in Mexico. Back then, owning a car was a luxury. I was fortunate to have relatives, who owned vehicles. I remember being a passenger in the back of my uncle’s truck. One time, as my uncle’s truck came to a rolling stop on a dirt road, three men unexpectedly hopped onto the cab. They were unsought hitchhikers, but not necessarily brutes. These were average townspeople, who stood under the shade of a tree, waiting for the infrequent bus. Yes, only one bus.

Because the bumpy dirt roads forced cars to slow, the uninvited hitchhikers took advantage of the break. My uncle shrugged off the inconvenience, tilted his sombrero and kept driving. When our truck neared the group’s destination, with a slight pound to the side of the truck, the men jumped off. They simply hollered a pleasantry,“Gracias. A la otra!”

Do you know that just as these men used folksiness to strong-arm a ride, there are individuals who are more than ready to drop their emotional load onto our cab? I call them emotional hitchhikers. They’re not necessarily bad people, they’re just looking for reprieve. Sometimes their approach is veiled. Other times, one can clearly see what’s lurking. Thumbs out. Their hitchhiking can come in the form of a phone call, text message or other. They want to vent, they need advice, they want to “unload”.

Yes, it’s nice to help out a friend, relative or neighbor when possible. But it’s important to recognize when our load is already too heavy. Why not give ourselves permission to not take all calls, nor respond to a disquieting message?

Expanding on this notion a little, let’s look at social media. Random or deliberate posts can also bear resemblance to emotional hitchhikers. Sometimes, clicking on a negative, angry or derogatory post can entangle us emotionally. Unbeknownst, we choose to open the door and take on somebody else’s emotional debris. There are individuals who are unable to discern emotion or space, so they recruit the attention of others on social media. Don’t take that ride.

I am a proponent of being there for others. But I routinely work at protecting my peace and balance. I’ve been at restaurants, where an employee drops and breaks a plate. When clearing tables, that individual might have picked up too many dishes. Let's not carry more than we can handle.

Sometimes it’s okay to bypass an emotional hitchhiker. Align your wheels, and stay on course. Be a friend, lend a caring hand or give a listen. But do so on your terms, when your own road is not too bumpy.

Similar reading on this blog: Keep Your Pants to Yourself

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I sometimes find it difficult to protect my peace while juggling ambition, compassion, and love. Each of these things push me in a certain way. I want to work harder. Love stronger. Be the best friend I can be. But like you said, it’s imperative to protect your peace and give what you can, knowing it’s enough. Stay your course and find your balance – this ensures we radiate positivity and put out good vibes into the universe. Enjoy your weekend! – A.K.

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I forgot to mention... my mom also grew up on a small farm. Owning a car was certainly a luxury! This brought back memories of her childhood stories.

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