*Two Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
Every so often my therapist plays a little game with me. She hands me her water bottle. Then her laptop. Next is her purse, notebook, pen, and cell phone. With my arms full and unable to hold anything else, she asks –
“What are you doing?” I respond, “I’m carrying all of your stuff.” She then says, “So stop.”
Her little game has me carrying physical items, but the objective is to understand how I can sometimes (as many of us do) carry other people’s emotional stuff. She pulls this little game back out every time I talk about carrying and worrying about other people’s problems and issues.
For example, if I have a negative interaction with someone but feel assured I acted kindly and respectfully, their lingering negative feelings are not my responsibility to carry or fix. Or, if I set a personal boundary in a relationship resulting in disappointing someone else, it again is not my responsibility to tend to their feelings.
I am responsible for what I bring to the table but not for what others are choosing to bring. None of this means I don’t try to communicate and work through issues. It does mean, however, I don’t let things for which I have no control (like the way someone else feels or thinks about me) take up space and energy in my thoughts.
And when I’m trying to determine what is mine to carry and what isn’t, I remember this simple mantra:
If I can’t control it, I shouldn’t carry it. It’s not mine to carry.
We all have enough baggage of our own. Why in the world would anyone want to add more to an already heavy load?
Emotional baggage from childhood and basically any relationship we’ve experienced creates baggage we sometimes carry with us for the rest of our lives. It’s simply a reality of connecting with others. So, carrying baggage is unavoidable. But we do have a choice about what we carry and for how long.
Even when we are carrying what is legitimately our own baggage, we can simply decide we’ve carried it long enough and it’s time to put it down. We can change habits. Stop and pause before reacting. This provides the space and time to respond appropriately rather than in habitual ways often created by baggage from past relationships. We can intentionally determine our behaviors and responses by setting our baggage down and acting out of the place we are today and not acting out of patterns from our past.
This life is a journey for each one of us. We can enjoy the highs and lows and we get to decide what is packed in our bags!
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Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.