So many of us hold ourselves back from changing career, going after what we want or showing up to intimate relationships. For instance, I see people try to achieve the perfect amount of healing before dating again or at all. Others try to get a gazillion degrees or keep trying to get more and more experience to compensate for what they believe they lack. There’s also often this sense that we can’t be and do certain things like advocate for our needs or create boundaries because of our thoughts and feelings about the past or anxiety about practising self-care.
What if I’m being selfish? Am I hurting people’s feelings by saying no sometimes? What if my boundary is wrong? Am I even allowed to say no? What if I’m abandoned and hurt just like I was as a child?
We think that our ‘baggage’ means we should settle for the status quo because we’re not ‘good enough’ yet. That we have that much more to prove or that we’ll never be good enough.
If you’re waiting to be ‘baggage-free’ before you can do something, before you feel safe to be you, you will be in for a long wait. A forever one, at that.
Every human has emotional baggage. We can’t expect to live and not have it. How could we go through a lifetime with a bunch of humans who all have their own personalities, characteristics, circumstances, resources, level of abundance and backstories and not have stories, judgements, criticisms and twisted habits?
We’ve been through a lot. Our ‘lots’ vary but we’ve all experienced them emotionally.
Everything goes through our body, but we don’t need to hold onto all of it. We sure as hell don’t need to hoard it either.
We entered the world with emotional baggage, and in between accumulating and hopefully processing, tidying and healing along the way, we’ll eventually leave the world with it too. It’s why I say that adulthood is about unlearning all of the harmful and unproductive messages we’ve picked up along the way so that we become more of who we really are.
There’s no such thing as ‘baggage-free’.
And there’s absolutely zero shame in that. Or at least, there’s no need for it. Unfortunately, we’ve all internalised messages about our background and experiences that have negatively impacted our sense of self. We see emotional baggage as a sign of failure, not of humanness. This becomes a block to living life in a way that allows us to process and heal it as we go.
What if there’s not anywhere near as much ‘wrong’ with us as we think?
What if, in fact, our emotional baggage contains clues, messages and healing that allows us to gradually evolve into who we really are if we dare to be curious about it?
If we can stop seeing ourselves as problems to be solved, to be fixed, we heal, grow and learn. We have the space to address the pain, fear and guilt that surfaces as a result of doing our best to live our lives trying to be more ourselves.
Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to “please” or protect yourself from others? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.
You can find out more about how to unpack, process and tidy up emotional baggage with my free audio series, The Emotional Baggage Sessions.