We all have our baggage and it usually does not get less with age… So how do we deal with all that baggage we have collected thoughout our life?
There are several options as to what we can do:
- We leave it on the baggage carousel hoping that someone will come and take it away and destroy it – good luck!
- We take it off the carousel and schlepp it around with us, hoping it will somehow take care of itself – spoiler alert, it usually doesn’t!
- We take it off the carousel and start sorting it out step by step and get rid of as much of it as possible.
Option a. is usually a bad idea. Since when does some knight in shining armour come along to solve all our problems? Ignoring our baggage will only ensure that we are stuck and will not move forward in our life, making ourself feel like a hamster in a wheel – going absolutely nowhere… Sometimes ignorance can be bliss but rarely when it comes to our own life.
Option b. is not much better than option a. – although slightly less naive. When we keep schlepping the same old baggage with us it will at some point weigh us down and make us utterly miserable. We may even carry it as a trophy, justifying failure, self-pity and even bad behavior. We follow a pattern and even make ourself comfortable, snuggling into our access baggage. The trouble is that at a certain point the load of baggage becomes so enormous that it threatens to overwhelm and smother us. The worst part though is that we tend to unload this baggage on others as we are so easily triggered. This may result in missed chances or broken relationships. Don’t ever let it get that far. I know what I am talking about…
At a certain point I went for Option c. For so many years I carried my sad stories around with me, victimizing and justifying myself. At a certain point I even bored myself to death with it and was ashamed that I had used them as excuses for such a lot of things. I got over it (well most of it), I worked through it (hell yes, it’s painful), I got help where I could not cope alone (it was sometimes humiliating, which in retroperspective was just in my head).
What really helped me make that decision many years ago was actually the discovery of the Enneagram. It enabled me to take action and take my baggage off the belt and start looking through it, taking a step back and approaching it without the nagging emotions connected. At first this might be overwhelming but I just took out one piece at a time and definded if I need to work on it or with it or if it can just be filed under “experience”. I made the decision to not use my baggage as an excuse for the things that have gone wrong in my life anymore.
Does this process ever end?
I think not, at least not as long as we actually live a life. We will always have things that stay with us forever but I believe it is important to try and not let them out on others. And if we do, help them understand why we are reacting the way we do. We all have things in our lives that trigger reactions – the good and the ugly ones. It can be a song, a scent, the way something is said that can set you off. If we expect understanding, help others understand us… Just see it as work in progress.
The baggage that yoweu are schlepping around with us is usually not all negative and I believe it is important to concentrate on the good and understand and work through the ugly. Understand ourself a little better and the most important part is to be (sometimes brutally) honest with ourself.
Just don’t let the ugly define your life and who you are… You do have a choice (even if you cannot always see it right away)!