We all carry baggage. Sometimes it’s a big suitcase, crammed with regrets and remorse about things we feel guilty about, or sorry for doing, or regret having said. Other times, it’s a smaller case, loaded with bad vibes from our past or it’s a small bag, stretched with sadness, anger or bitterness.
Whichever it is, for many women we take these bags with us now (wherever we go) and into the future.
The problem with that is that our future, our ability to live well and happily, is weighed down by the heavy bags we carry and bring with us.
It’s like having a migraine that hurts us and weighs us down, so we can’t be open to new fun, opportunities and things to enjoy now (in the present) or as we move forward into our lives.
Heavy bags affect our self-confidence, self-esteem and ability to feel empowered. For example, if we carry bitterness and regret about our divorce, it often overrides everything we do. Still angry at our ex, we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to be open to another relationship, we feel angry a lot of the time (and who wants to hang around angry people?) and it stops us from feeling peace and serenity within.
This in turn makes us question ourselves, we feel anxious a lot of the time, we doubt our self-worth and self-value and slowly, over time, our self-confidence is eroded. There is not good outcome to carrying bags from the past into our future.
Don’t let your past dictate your future. Leave the bags behind and start again.
Letting go of the past
Some of us have extremely painful pasts. Abuse, neglect, domestic violence, addictions, not feeling wanted as a child, trauma – all of these things can naturally affect us. Why wouldn’t it? Many people don’t deal with this trauma or seek professional helping to leave it in the past.
Probably because it’s too painful. Who wants to drudge up the past and feel all those negative emotions, right? It can feel traumatising to go through the events again, or so it seems. But through that pain mostly comes healing, with the guidance of a professional person who is trained to help.
When your past dictates your future
Take Sally (not her real name). Sally comes from a family of alcoholics and whilst she loathed being raised in an alcohol-fuelled family, she became one herself. Her drinking became a serious problem when she was 18 years old and now, at 64, nothing has changed.
She looks back at her life as a ‘train smash’, as years of events packed with remorse and low self-esteem, and she feels that she has led a wasted existence.
Racked with remorse, anger and self-disappointment, she feels she was always ‘designed to become an alcoholic, because my family is’.
When your negative excuses justify your destructive behaviour
This negative way of thinking has locked her into a script, a narrative, that makes her justify why she is like she is, even though she has had every opportunity to work through her issues and leave her bags behind.
As a younger woman, she was a very gifted athlete (and could have got to international level) and a talented artist – and she never did anything with either.
When I look at Sally, I feel sadness for what she could have been, the life she could have led and the happiness she could have experienced. But her dysfunctional past has become her present and her future. And so it continues.
Last month she was asked to walk her daughter down the aisle. This is the daughter she left behind when the child was three – but like all her ‘empty promises’, Sally was in yet another drunken haze and could not get to the wedding. Yesterday, I heard that Sally is in the ‘mouth of the addiction dragon’ and is on a ‘bender’, because she feels bad about being so inebriated that she could not even get to her own daughter’s wedding.
Her past continues to dictates her future and always will, because she allows it to.
Her life could have been so different
She could have got help, made AA part of her life where she is dedicated to her sobriety, gone into rehab, hung around with other sober alcoholics, even sponsored people with drinking problems later in her recovery, found a fantastic career, be in a sober and happy relationship and learn to enjoy the great things life has to offer.
It didn’t turn out that way because Sally brought all her bags from the past into her future. And she’s still filling her bags with drunken, negative energy that is ruining her life and that of those who love her. Tragic.
Strategies to let go of the past and bounce forward
Think about how your bags are affecting you now and the impact they may have in the future?
- Ask yourself if you are happy? If not why not?
- Draw a vertical line down the middle of an A4 piece of paper.
- On the left, write down the things in the bags that you carry? The things that make you unhappy?
- On the right hand side of the page, write down as many solutions to these problems that you can. Don’t think about them too much. Write down the first ideas that come to mind.
- Go through the solutions and work out those that are achievable and you can commit to trying.
- Now write down an action plan of what you will do, how and when and put those plans and dates into your calendar.
- Implement and follow.
- Find a professional who can guide you. A life coach is professionally trained to guide you to achieving goals and designing a wonderful life for you.
- If your bags are more emotionally heavy (such as childhood abuse) seek the help of an experienced counsellor or psychologist to help you drop those bags and travel light moving into the future.
- Meditate, practise yoga, pray, show gratitude for everything you have.
- Learn to forgive. If you don’t it costs you, nobody else.
So many women feel their lives are designed to provide for others. To cook, clean, taxi children around and to make sure that everybody – the family, friends and the village – are thriving.
But often this is at our expense.
Stage 2 of the Be Unstoppable women’s online empowerment Program looks at the valuable life you, as a woman, can lead and how critically important you are in designing your own path ahead. How you see you and our experiences greatly shapes the woman you are. You have much to love, live and enjoy.
The Be Unstoppable Program has been written for all women, no matter where you are to help you take control of your life, feel more confident about you and it gives you ways to become resilient, manage stress well and communicate more assertively. To find out more, head to www.empoweringwomentothrive.com.
Or you can chat with us about any concerns or ideas you have about how you would like to improve your life. Book a free discussion on https://my.timetrade.com/book/QGY21