I read a post today talking about how to get rid of your baggage. That is, the emotional baggage you think you’re carrying.
But what is emotional baggage? The events of the past? Our past hurts and the defences we’ve put in place to avoid them happening again? The anger we’re keeping alive about past insults or injuries? The future?
When we think it’s our past or the future that’s weighing us down, we’re headed down the rabbit-hole-of-no-exit. When we think our defences are solid things, it’s tilting at windmills to try and breach them.
Because here’s something you may not realise.
Your baggage isn’t real.
“WHAT? But I’ve spent hours, years and lots of money trying to get rid of it!!!”
Yes, me too. But now I realise I don’t need to do that, because it’s not real.
It’s a bunch of thinking that you’ve been believing about yourself, others and the world – some of it repeatedly and for a long time – and when you think it again in this moment, it shapes the way you feel and act right now.
I’m not saying stuff didn’t happen to you. By the time we’re adults, we’ve all been through things we’d rather not have been through and wouldn’t wish on anyone. And I understand that the journey to today for some people has been hugely painful.
But the past is past. I know you’ve heard that before, but do you really, truly realise it? The only place it exists is in your head, in the form of thoughts. You make it up again every time you think about it (that’s not me just philosophising – that’s scientifically what happens when we remember a past event – we literally recreate it each time – that’s why memories change).
And what are thoughts made of? Imagination. Energy. Nothing you can touch or put in a suitcase, that’s for sure. The only way it’s kept alive is by revisiting it in any moment (i.e.: thinking about it).
I once thought I had to go through my metaphorical suitcase and examine each item in order to vaporise or neutralise it. That was inevitably a painful and never-ending process – and my childhood was pretty much idyllic!
Now I realise that re-hashing the past is entirely unnecessary and nowhere near as effective as simply understanding what it’s all made of. My memories of the past are made of Thought, not made of the past.
I don’t need to dig into my own suitcase; all I need to see is that my reactions and behaviours now, are a reflection of my thinking now. And you don’t have to believe everything you think.
It’s amazing how quickly the suitcase empties itself when the things in it don’t look so real any more.
What would it mean for you, to know you didn’t have to delve into your past, to be free of it now?