Are you too overloaded for where you are trying to go?
Tao Te Chingsaid, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”
Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Possibly you’re getting too attached to meaningless things that don’t really matter. Our lives were meant for more than to be trudged through laden with the residue of yesterday’s overflow. This is a new day—the perfect time to courageously start confronting the “junk” weighing down those suitcases and assessing whether it earns the right to remain a part of our lives. The longer we wait, the more baggage we accumulate and the more cumbersome the load becomes. The only way to move forward is to leave the past where it happened, unpack, and let go of what’s inside.
Many of us travel through life with baggage, which evolves from painful, harmful or negative experiences and from interactions that caused a significant emotional reaction within us. These feelings continue to shape who we are, how we think, the choices we make and the actions we take now. The downside of all of this is that it slows us down considerably and sometimes can completely derail us from our significant pursuits.
As a grown-up, it is your job to take responsibility for your emotional wellbeing. You have complete, total control and power over one person—yourself—so you are responsible for every area of your life, including feelings you carry with you on a daily basis that could be affecting more than you realize.
A good start toward addressing your baggage is to have a present-day reality check. When your immediate reaction to an experience is anger, fear or sadness, stop. Analyse the feeling. Are you upset (or fearful, humiliated or shocked) by what just happened or what someone said because of its effect on your life now? Or have those words or actions triggered something from your past that will cause you to feel or react out of proportion to what actually occurred today?
Can it fit in the overhead compartment?
There are two main types of baggage: what you see and are well aware of (excess), and what you don’t see and aren’t aware of (hidden). The baggage you see but choose not to acknowledge or unload can become a problem. Your choice to ignore it means that for some reason you are allowing it to interfere with your life, your relationships and your future.
The interesting thing about excess baggage is that it becomes almost comfortable to carry. It’s as if you become so used to carrying this extra weight that you don’t realise how much more you could see and do if you were carrying a lighter load.
Hidden baggage, or the type you may not even be aware of, is equally dangerous because it can sneak up on you and ambush you out of nowhere. This kind of baggage can trick you into tolerating a job that works you countless hours for low pay and no appreciation. It might lead you to stay close to a self-centred friend who talks your ear off because you’ve “always been quiet anyway.”
Emotional baggage is driven by negative feelings such as anger, fear and sadness. You may be thinking, “How did I end up like this?” “It’s not my fault,” “My life isn’t fair,” or “Things like this always happen to me.” These underlying feelings can lead to a desire to act out or remain passive.
The power to get rid of the baggage comes from knowing where it stems from and asking yourself these important questions: “Assuming I can choose to behave any way I want, do I like the way I am behaving?”; “Should I or others have to suffer because of my past?”; and “Can I manage painful or uncomfortable emotions by committing to behaving differently?”
Unloading Your Baggage
Digging up the past isn’t easy, but it is a critical step in moving forward. Here are a few tips to help you lose that emotional baggage.
- The first step to unloading that excess baggage is to identify it. First, try and jot down some of the problems and conflicts that have surfaced in your life. How much of your time and energy is spent in dealing with these issues? How has your emotional, physical, and spiritual health been affected by the weight of these issues?
- Next, stop blaming others for your problems. You have to take responsibility for your life, your actions, and your emotions. The blame game won’t change anything. And this includes blaming yourself! Break the blame chain and you’re bound to escape this vicious cycle.
- Finally, extend forgiveness to yourself and others so you can truly let go of the hurt that you have experienced. It won’t be easy and a person may not be deserving or even ask for your grace, but it is crucial to paving a positive path forward.
Unlike luggage, we don’t have the option to pack up our emotions and ship them off to a faraway destination. We do, however, have the option to take charge of them and choose how they will affect us from this point forward. Choosing to drop our baggage can lead to a much stronger, more balanced life.
Release and let go when you struggle with your hurts, regrets, failures, and mistakes. Release and let go when you hold grudges or deny yourself the opportunity for growth and development.
Release and let go when you’re feeling lousy and miserable, when you’re stuck and in a rut, and when you feel you’re moving down the wrong path and have a strong desire for change.
Release yourself from the burden of all these things. They do not necessarily serve you. They only overload you and keep you away from where you want to go.