Quit carrying all of that "stuff" around. It's time to unpack your own hang-ups.
"I don't want to date anyone who has baggage" is a refrain I hear often. This love seeker's lament is typically referring to emotional issues, someone having children, financial problems, or physical and spiritual hang-ups. Even though I understand the desire to avoid a potential partner who brings nothing but drama, when clients approach me pining for a free-of-baggage love connection, I have to reply honestly and say, "Sorry, that's impossible."
If you're over the age of 10, you've already started accumulating at least some emotional baggage. The older you get, the more baggage you acquire as a result of things that happen to you from your family, school, relationships, career, (basically, from life) — the possibilities are endless.
Where does emotional baggage come from?
When we experience an unpleasant or uncomfortable situation in our lives, we stuff it down. We save it to deal with later. We tell ourselves that it really doesn't matter that much or it's too big to face right now. That stuffed down "stuff" becomes emotional baggage.
When I divorced and started dating again, I definitely noticed the huge amounts of baggage everyone else had. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I eventually discovered that my focus on their baggage, faults, and imperfections was a result of my own inner beliefs (otherwise known as: my own baggage). For example, I used to think: Though all men make money, most never seem to actually have any money. I know how to be with men like this and these are the only type of men I deserve. And sure enough, in my dating life, all of the men I attracted were employed but never actually had any money.
A big shift finally came when an eye-opening mental picture popped into my mind showing me how much "baggage" I'd stored up and was toting around over the years. That amount could have easily filled a large U-Haul truck and that realization was startling. After all, a large U-Haul truck can hold the contents of a 3-bedroom house!
Unpack the baggage
So, what I did (because I love visuals) is I figuratively opened that metaphoric U-Haul truck, took out one box and opened it. I pictured the inside containing old clothes I had stored away, each item of clothing symbolizing a thought or mindset I'd held on to over the years.
I then "tried on" each piece of clothing from the box in order to decide which ones I wanted to keep (ideas and mindsets that still served me well), which ones I wanted to alter (ideas needing an update to be remain useful) and which ones I needed to just give away.
For each piece of clothing/old thought, I would sit with the feeling that came to me while trying it back on. For example, the first dress represented my belief that no one would ever want to date me. I left my marriage believing this. So, I sat and asked myself: Does this fit my life now? Because I had been dating successfully for about six months with plenty of men interested in taking me out, I realized this old belief did not "fit" me any longer. So, I put it in my mental "get rid of it" box.
The second dress I tried on was the belief that I didn't know how to flirt. I was able to dismiss that one easily enough, as I'd been flirting well all along while dating. I just didn't realize it and let that truth in. So, in that instance, I sent that old thought to be "altered." I didn't want to give this part of me away but I realized how much I'd benefit from altering that mindset to suit me better in my present reality.
You can imagine, with a large U-Haul truck of personal baggage to sort through, it took awhile to mentally go through all of those boxes. It took some therapy, some classes, some reading, some crying (well, maybe a lot of crying) and some friends. I finally got my personal baggage consolidated down to a size that, at most, could fit easily in an airplane's overhead bin. This seems like a reasonable amount of personal baggage to still carry around (I am still human) and I'd certainly be open to accepting the same amount of baggage from a man I love.
So, what size is your emotional "baggage"?
Are you ready to unpack it? Leave a comment and let me know: are you feeling like a U-haul-sized truck or a carry-on suitcase?