Heartache, jealousy, fear, loneliness, blame and resentment are just a few of the items you might inadvertently be lugging around. Physical, material bags are usually filled with carefully chosen practical goods. Less tangible luggage, the type created by the mind, is stuffed with unhelpful, and often painful items. No one would dream of cramming depression, despondency or rage in a real suitcase; what use would they be? But, they bung up their minds with negative emotions without a second thought, perhaps because they’ve never been taught that there’s an alternative.
The real problem with emotional baggage that’s bought into the present is that there’s a tendency to feed it with energy. Have you ever noticed how depleting going over a hurtful memory is? That’s because the only way you can experience it ‘now’ is to feel it, and when you do it won’t be the same as the past. You have to relight it with a fresh spark to keep it going, which takes away your vitality. Alarmingly, your present mind might even change details here and there, making the story bigger, deeper, and more meaningful.
The best way to deal with a painful past might be to turn to a constructive approach, recognizing the lessons you’ve learned by discovering what you don’t want and identifying what you would prefer. You can use your history to make you a wiser, more compassionate person. Alternatively, you can recreate pain until it deepens and runs out of control, making you ill, stressed and unhappy: the decision is yours.
Nonetheless, you might imagine that dumping your baggage isn’t a choice. You may not know how to quieten your mind if it constantly buzzes with regrets and sadness about what’s happened. Additionally, you might not understand how to let go, and instead constantly unpack and repack memories, maybe even adding hurt to them. How you manage putting your past behind you depends on what works for you personally. You can practice present moment awareness, mindfulness, meditate, or pull courage out of the tenderness of your pain. There again, you can put your feelings down on paper and burn them in a log fire, watching them turn to ashes and smoke, or use your powerful emotions as a catalyst to help others overcome similar challenges to those you have faced. Whichever process you select will empower you, adding to your strength.