So many people I know are caught up not only in trying to find out who made them stressed and miserable but also in storing the information and cataloging it for future use. I call this “baggage handling” because after a while, we have so much past misery that we need suitcases to put them in. We may even need a Sherpa to carry them.
My grandmother Francesca could have been the curator of the Smithsonian. She was amazing at recalling past history (mostly miserable). My mother was pretty good at storing old stuff too. I inherited some of it, but have been able to process it differently through some time in therapy and my sense of humor.
It is important to differentiate between what you need to hang on to and what to let go of. Many individuals have been traumatized severely from incidents that occurred in the past. History has taught us that if we don’t recall and heal the injustices, it becomes more difficult to heal them. Therefore, it is healthy to identify what has caused you pain, to gain insight, and, it is hoped, to move forward.
This is not always an easy task, for those who have been emotionally wounded often suffer physically. For example, parts of the brain seem to function differently in those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. We can no longer separate the mind from the body; one is witness to the other. There are many wonderful therapists who can help to heal the past and allow it to become a path to a more resilient future.
On the other hand, some baggage shouldn’t even go into the overnight case. So many situations are just a brain drain. I often ask people to write down their stressors, and invariably someone will tell me how upset they get when a co-worker takes extra time at lunch. One woman went on and on about how awful this was. I asked her how long she had been aggravated about this situation and she responded, “Twenty years.” So for twenty years she had been storing this nugget of misery without trying to find a solution.
She also had the need to be a martyr. She felt it was no use to try to do anything, since no one seemed to care that she was being taken advantage of. So now we have a great blend—a martyr with baggage.
Once we have a lot of baggage, navigating life becomes harder and harder. The emotions of resentment, anger and feeling neglected make it difficult to enjoy life to the fullest. Try to make a list of what you’ve been storing and see if you can’t make a point of letting go of what will never change. The freedom you will obtain is well worth the effort. You will no longer be a slave to your mind.