A New Approach to Transforming Self-Talk: Recognizing Unacknowledged Burdens

Watching my friend pretend her heart isn’t breaking
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.
The equivalent weight of how much railway
it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.
It’s the collective weight of every animal
on earth. Times three.

Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief—
just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.

There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see what
anyone else has swallowed.

In the astute observations of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, we encounter a compelling analogy of the unseen and often underestimated emotional loads we each carry. With its scientific metaphor, this poem strikes a chord with our shared human experience, prompting a more analytical approach to empathy and understanding.

Consider this: you never really know the full capacity or resources someone is operating with or if they’re expending their maximum effort just to maintain equilibrium. Like the density of a neutron star, grief is immensely potent and invisible to the external observer. This analogy isn’t just poetic—it’s a stark reminder of the substantial, yet silent, burdens borne by those around us.

In situations where snap judgments are easy, pausing to consider the unknown variables in someone else’s equation can lead to a more compassionate and calculated response. But what about our own internal struggles? Often, we’re more focused on our unmet goals, the errors in our calculations, the missed opportunities, and the setbacks.

Ask yourself: How aware are you of your own mental and emotional capacity today? Once you have that metric, what insight does it offer you? What strategies or responses do you deploy at that point?

This introspection, sparked by Trommer’s scientifically evocative language, isn’t just about decoding others; it’s also about a rigorous self-analysis and the necessity to apply a logical form of gentleness to ourselves. Recognizing our own hidden challenges allows us to extend a more rational and empathetic approach to others.

The poem concludes with a thought-provoking premise: the marvel of our existence on a planet amid cosmic phenomena, coupled with the realization that we cannot quantify what anyone else has internalized. This metaphorical ‘spoonful of neutron star’ that we all navigate demands a response that blends empathy with a practical, problem-solving mindset towards ourselves and those around us.

In essence, the poem and this article catalyze a more empirical yet compassionate approach to our daily interactions. By acknowledging the invisible weights we each manage, we can foster a supportive and understanding environment, which is particularly crucial for those in high-pressure, achievement-oriented fields.

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