Baggage is something we all feel we have at some time in our life. What exactly is baggage? Baggage is an analogy we use to describe elements in our past that we bring into a new situation. It often interferes with our ability to be successful in our new venture. However, most people don’t realize that baggage is not the event that transpired, but the emotions we assign to the event.
There is a clinical term we use that’s called Radical Acceptance. It essentially means you accept the facts as they are without the emotion that you experienced. The facts are the facts and will not change regardless of how much you want them to. When you accept the situation for what it is it’s easier to see which feelings you have assigned to it. For example, let’s say your current “baggage” is you’ve been in, what you perceive to be, multiple failed relationships. You enter into the next relationship feeling broken, with low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and shame. The fact is your relationships did not last. The actual baggage you bring into the new relationship is the negative self-perception you experienced after each relationship ended – not the failure of the relationship itself.
What most people do is assign situations from their past as descriptors of who they are today. The events you went through are simply events, they are not your identity. If you assign them as such, you ultimately will bring the emotional baggage into the new situation and will not be able to start afresh.
Think of your life as a jigsaw puzzle. Each life event is somehow connected to another event and they make up the overall picture of your life. If you were to isolate one of those puzzle pieces and try and figure out how it fits into the final picture it will not make sense. It’s the same thing in your own life. When you isolate a past event you often will have tunnel vision and it colors your future. You then identify yourself by the fallout of that event. Life is fluid; it’s always changing. If your belief about yourself and the events you experienced become the identify of who you are then you will not be able to successfully transition into the next chapter of your life.
Each event you have experienced has all worked together to create the amazing person that you are today. You cannot always be on the mountaintop. Life will make you walk through many valleys to reach the next summit. The key is to walk through the valley and not camp out in it. Of course, you would not want to experience the same life events again, but remember, just like the jigsaw puzzle, it all works together to create the person you are today.
You determine what is considered baggage in your own life. Society often dictates that certain things are not socially acceptable and will try and make you feel badly about yourself. You get to decide how much you let that affect you. If you remove your negative emotions from past events and focus on who you are today those past events will be a healthy foundation for the next chapter of your life. Leave the baggage in the past, the only thing that serves you today are the lessons you have learned along the way. Travel lightly.
James Miller is a licensed psychotherapist who is known for his weekly iTunes podcasts, YouTube channel, magazine articles, and his Academy where he teaches virtual classes for successful people to simplify and transform their lives. For consultation or for more information visit: www.JamesMillerLifeology.com.