Thoughtful Thursday: Whose baggage are you carrying?
Whose baggage are you carrying? And we’re not talking about the baggage you take on a flight with you. Often times, we take on another person’s problems and become so consumed that we forget about ourselves.
This week, Christine Hassler explores the types of baggage that you might be carrying with you and how you can free yourself from carrying someone else’s around.
Guest Blog Post by Christine Hassler
Every one of us has our so-called “baggage” to sort through and eventually let go of so we can step into the full expression of who we are. Our baggage can feel fairly heavy at times and what makes it feel even heavier is when we start to carry someone else’s in addition to our own.
A common example is the baggage we take on from our parents out of loyalty. As kids we learn a lot from our parents like how to tie our shoes, say our ABC’s, and ride a bike. We have fond memories of those moments with our mom and dad when they taught us something for the very first time that we still do today. We also model our parents – they are our biggest heroes when we are little. We yearn for their attention, love and long to be like them. So in addition to learning things from them like how to tie our shoes, we also model their habits, patterns and belief systems. This works for us as children because we want to fit into our family structure but what happens if you start to outgrown the behaviors and beliefs you grew up with?
What I see very frequently among my clients is that they feel an obligation to carry on the behaviors and beliefs of their parents even if they are in conflict with what they truly want or believe. Out of love and duty, many people even take on the pain of a parent and spend their adulthood trying to ease that pain. For instance, I recently worked with a client who was so invested in attempting to help her mom deal with her marriage and get healthy that she had completely lost sight of her own dreams. She was also experiencing a lot of sadness because she was taking on her mom’s emotions. When she was able to separate, claim her rightful place as the child (not the parent), and understand taking care of her mom was not her job, she was finally able to step into the awareness that she could love her mom without “fixing” her.
Taking on other people’s baggage can also happen in friendships and romantic relationships when we attract “projects” and lose ourselves in the process of attempting to fix-up someone else. It’s hard to watch someone else suffer and to deal with this discomfort it is natural to become invested in healing that person. But we cannot truly heal anyone except ourselves.
My encouragement to you is to take a good look at the precious cargo space of your consciousness. Consider whether you carrying around something that doesn’t belong to you. Are you holding onto someone else’s pain or problems out of obligation? Are you living according to someone else’s belief systems rather than living in alignment with your truth?
Love is not over-responsibility. Love is being able to respond to people from a place of compassion rather than from a place of thinking you can resolve their problems or carry them around for them. If you examine the word compassion, you’ll find that the root “co” means “with” and “passion” means “suffering.” So compassion is about being with someone’s suffering, not ending it.
Your capacity to love expands exponentially when you are loving to yourself. The more you carry around other people’s baggage and live your life through the lens of someone else’s beliefs, the more you loose sight of yourself. Focus on your baggage and put everyone else’s down. As you do you will discover more space for your own dreams and a broader understanding of giving people the dignity of their own process. Be your own hero rather than trying to be someone else’s.
And the miraculous thing that happens once you do that is that you can truly come from a place of service rather than savior.
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” Deborah Reber
“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the road which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well.” Maya Angelou
About the Author:
Christine Hassler left her successful job as a Hollywood agent at 25 to pursue a life she could be passionate about…but it did not come easily. After being inspired by her own unexpected challenges and experiences, she realized her journey was indeed her destination. In 2005, she wrote the first guide book written exclusively for young women, entitled 20 Something 20 Everything. Christine’s second book, The 20 Something Manifesto written for men and women stems from her experience coaching twenty-something’s.
Today, she supports individuals as a Life Coach helping clients discover the answers to the questions: “Who Am I, What do I want, and How do I get it?” As a professional speaker, Christine leads seminars and workshops to audiences around the country. She has spoken to over 10,000 college students as well as to conferences and corporations about generational diversity. Christine has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, E!, Style and PBS, as well as various local television and radio shows, speaking about life issues and “Expectation Hangovers®” – a phenomenon she identified and trademarked.
Christine is the spokesperson for Zync from American Express and the key resource for their Quarterlife Program which empowers young people to take control of their finances. She also created a life balance curriculum for the Leadership Institute and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100. www.christinehassler.com