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Of baggage and the management of this luggage, Angelina Jolie once said, “It’s hard to be clear about who you are when you are carrying around a bunch of baggage from the past. I have learned to let go and move more quickly into the next place.” I really love that latter part of her quote about moving quickly to the next place. The reason I have found is that most people have come to both understand and accept that baggage accompanies all of our lives. But, the area that seems to hang most of us up is how to navigate through the hours, days and years and not allow our baggage to pull us down.
My personal definition of baggage is the emotional struggles we choose to carry into new areas of our lives like addictions, anger or bitterness. I recently worked with a client who was going through some really tough times with his relationship. What he shared is that the issues with his mate had less to do with their present and future, and all to do with things from their past. She was living in frustration with him about shortcomings in her life that she collected way before they had even met. Now he has been sentenced to live a life of frustrations based on standards he could never fix.
What I learned during this session is that no matter how remorseful or angry you are about where you have been and what has happened, you will never possess the ability to go back and right those wrongs. The best you could hope for is the strength and mental fortitude to walk into your tomorrows with the resolve to make better choices with what you have left.
Why is it that we clinch onto the past with a seeming death grip? I believe there are two primary reasons. First, our environment tends to dictate expectations; and it is our expectations that grow our life’s experiences. Next, we seem to hold the past because we haven’t embraced the fact that interruptions come to push us out of our comfort zones. In other words, we get used to the same old stuff and life knocks us around until we get the guts to step further than we’ve ever been before.
You would think that having baggage in your life would be a disqualifier for your destiny. However, it is actually the contrary. It is our baggage that is the great equalizer. Baggage does not care if you are white, black, bi-racial, male or female. Your zip code doesn’t negate the reality of your baggage. It is one of the few things we ALL encounter. I have seen people of great wealth and means go through some crazy things; almost as if they were no different from a person with low-income, living in public housing. Baggage doesn’t care, it just shows up.
I believe there are some simple remedies to access that make navigating with baggage a lot easier. Trust me, if you are not careful, you will end up wandering with a bad back from carrying your load the wrong way. So the first thing you need is a circle of friends who are not afraid of your baggage. It is your vibe that’s attracting your tribe. When you connect with the right people, they will see past your baggage and identify your potential. Is there anything more freeing than someone who acknowledges your greatness long before it has arrived? These people give you the validation to step beyond limitations and be your best self.
Along with a circle of friends to lift you up, you need to connect with a mentor who has been where you are trying to go. Mentorship is probably one of the greatest missing links to success. We have been taught that experience is the best teacher… But I beg to differ. Experience can be so expensive you never quite recover afterward. So I have learned that gaining access to other people’s experiences can save you both time and money. You should not have to go bankrupt to see what it is like when you have a mentor who has fought their way back from the brink of disaster. In other words, mentorship is your treasure map for a better rate of success.
Iconic R & B singer Erykah Badu wrote a song a few years ago called “Bag Lady” that quickly became a Billboard success. The opening lyrics still blow me away to this day. She wrote:
Bag lady you gonna hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto is you, is you, is you
Imagine that, the very things we struggle to carry are what causes us the most pain. There is this internal contradiction we have to come to grips with. We must gather the resolve to walk away from our baggage, no matter how comforting it makes us feel. Today our future stands before us. Will you continue in dysfunction? Or will you have the power to walk into our liberation? The choice is completely yours.
By Early Jackson
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)
Top Image Courtesy of Early Jackson – New Direction Coaching Associates
Inline Image Courtesy of Mystery People – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Michael Coghlan Follow – Flickr License