Letting Go of Life’s Baggage
We all carry baggage around. We get taught early on to hold onto our wounds as a sign of pride. They become battle scars that we show off to our friends. The ego’s need to say, “Look what I’ve been through.” or better yet, “I’ve been through more than you.” is one reason why people do this. The need to carry the pain around with us to show how strong we are is only one of the reasons people hang onto things.
Another reason is that people beat themselves up with it. They carry around all this stuff and frequently pick it up and smack themselves with it, reminding themselves of how awful they are, what they could have, should have, would have done better and why they don’t deserve to have nice things. In some sense, this keeps them safe. It also keeps them stuck. They don’t go after what they want because they don’t feel worthy of it. They don’t allow themselves to have those nice things because they may not be able to handle them properly once they have it.
The analogy I use for each painful experience or thing we think we did wrong is a box. Each box contains the pain and the memories from each experience. Every time we relive that experience it’s like we open the box and root through it. When we open the box we look at all the pictures, we feel the pain, we read the letters, and we admire the mementos. We aren’t really accomplishing anything because we aren’t getting rid of the box or anything in it. We aren’t healing because we’re still holding onto everything. We’re just making ourselves sad, beating up on ourselves and ruining the present moment in favour of reliving some past event that we’ve relived a thousand times before.
In order to get rid of these boxes, we don’t have to go through them. We don’t have to relive the event. We don’t have to feel the pain. We don’t have to sort through all the mementos. We can just toss the box out. We don’t do this though, because somewhere along the way we’ve been taught that healing requires reliving the experience over and over again, but it doesn’t. At some point reliving the experience has no value. It’s not healing anything.
The emotions are important. It’s important to feel them and release them. But the thing we never seem to do is to actually release them. We dam them up. We shove them into boxes and we put them away. Every once in a while we go down into the dungeon, blow the dust off that box, and relive the experience once again. We are getting nowhere. What we are succeeding in doing is making ourselves miserable. It needs to stop.
It’s okay to chuck out the box. It’s just energy. You’ve felt the emotions. You’ve remembered what happened. You’ve read the letters a thousand times. Just toss the box. Let yourself off the hook. You don’t need to punish yourself by holding onto the box. The simple fact is that life will probably throw you more experiences that you’re going to want to put in more boxes. Eventually, you’re going to run out of space. You will run out of room to hold onto all of this and you will breakdown. The piled-up boxes will fall. It will break you. That breaking point is different for everybody. Have you found yours yet? What happened when you got there?
By cleaning out the dungeon we make room for life to continue to happen. We free ourselves from the baggage that we carry around. We make space for ourselves to have nice things. We give ourselves permission to be okay. The truth is you did the best you could in every moment. It wasn’t perfect, it was human. Human is the only way you know how to be and that’s okay. As a human, you also know how to learn from your experiences and do better the next time. Instead of taking the boxes and beating ourselves up with them, how about we take the box, learn from it, keep the lesson and toss the box. It’s time to make room for life. It’s time to move on.
Give yourself permission to be okay. By being okay yourself, you help others to be okay too, without ever doing anything other than your own work. It’s amazing the power one person can have when they do nothing more than decide to be okay.
Lots of love.
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