Investigating 'baggage'

I've always been taught that life is a series of chapters, and it's all about moving forward and not carrying around baggage.

Alesha Dixon

Should you feel the fear and do it anyway?

Boss your inner critic playlist here.

Why investigate 'baggage'?

The more energy you use lumping around these unhelpful bits of baggage – the less energy you have for the good stuff – challenges, creativity, curiosity, conversations and other things that don’t begin with ‘c’. 

Would you agree that our ‘baggage’ can have a powerful hold on us?  Are you giving it more power than it deserves? 

If you have deftly jettisoned your baggage along the way – congratulations!  

Most of us have bits and pieces still hanging around in the corners of our mind that has a subtle or more obvious influence on the way we feel day to day. 

I argue that there are items in your life ‘baggage’ that are feedomg your inner squasher. 

I am referring to ‘stuff’ that came before and clings to you now – the confusing or negative influences, associations, labels, shame and guilt that you still carry around with you – perhaps unconsciously. 

There is no question that a good clear out will help. So let’s get on with it. 

Sounds so simple when I put it like that. 

I am not in anyway suggesting this is simple – you have been hanging on to this baggage for years. The older you are – the more bonded you are with this baggage! Breaking the connection takes conscious effort. 

The first part in the process is, as always, self-awareness. 

Here are some items that might have been added to your baggage over the years. 

Childhood years 

  • Parent, elder or teacher expectations 
  • Labelling – setting your identity 
  • Anxieties - insecurities 
  • Bullying trauma 
  • Being over-praised or under-praised – confused self-worth 

Early adulthood years 

  • Critical/bullying boss – confidence sapper 
  • Parents displaying disappointment – feeling useless 
  • Staying in jobs that went against your values – feeling misaligned 
  • Toxic relationships – self-worth and confidence eroded 
  • Humiliation memories – shame feelings being easily reactivated 

Bulging baggage!  

Any of the above could be influencing your thoughts and feelings and consequently feeding your inner squasher.

At one time or another, we all try to silence painful emotions. But when we suceed in feeling nothing we lose the only menas we have of knowing what hurts us, and why.  Stephen Grosz

Just a side note - I am talking about baggage that is unhelpful because we are talking about a feeder of Impostor Syndrome. I don’t want you desperately searching for bad things about your childhood in order to explain Impostor Syndrome feelings you might have now. I am not meaning to go all ‘Freud and Larkin’ on you! Hopefully plenty of good things happened during your early years! 

It's no coincidence that an inner critic's utterances often sound as if they're coming from an authoritarian parent. 

Your present-day squasher feelings that were fed during childhood are like an echo – clear, despite the distance, and on repeat. Quietening these echoes is challenging but it can be done, I speak from experience.  

Brain on Fear

Memories. Embedded memories. Emotional Synapses following the patterns they have done for years - not suffciently challenged! When we are in a fresh fear situation, the brain notes the details in our neurons - for a good reason. This is to act as a warning bell when similar situations crop up in the future. Emotionally charged moments (good and bad) set off brain responses that lead to the memory being easily retreived decades later! And then there is something else...

those childhood days.

We are helpless bundles of baby at the start - dependent on the care of someone.  Our brains and body are connected - and that includes recognising cuddles and calm - as well as abandonment and fear. 

You don't need to have a traumatic childhood to have a less than secure 'attachment' style.  This is all part of your 'baggage' that impacts on things like confidence, self-esteem and courage.  

Please read up about 'attachment theory' - originally researched by John Bowlby.

And you can feast on the 'nature - nurture' debate to your heart's content! Have a look at Steven Pinker - The Blank Slate.

Are you hanging on to labels that were put on you in childhood? Are you being defined by the stories you are telling yourself - that were told by someone else? Are you looking for love and praise - just to be noticed even! Is this leading to people-pleasing and a cycle of 'feeling squashed-being needy- feeling more squashed'?  Are you trying to be someone or something just to meet the expectations of someone from your past?  

All of the above mean your 'you-ness' is being squashed.

Let’s take a closer look at those baggage items so you can decide whether you still need them or if it time to chuck them out! The latter being more likely, I hope. 

To underline the message that I am not trying to get you to wallow in your past and feel full of regrets about things you cannot change, I will quote from a book called ‘The Examined Life’ by Stephen Grosz. It is a long quote – but a relevant one. 

Scrooge can’t redo his past, nor can he be certain of the future.  Waking on Christmas morning, thinking in a new way, he can change his present – change can only take place in the here and now. This is important because trying to change the past can leave us feeling helpless, depressed. But Dickens’ tale points to a further, darker and unexpected truth. Sometimes change comes not because we set out to fix ourselves, or repair our relation to the lost, the forgotten, the dead. As Scrooge grieves for those he had loved but put out of his mind, he begins to regain the world he had lost. He comes to life.” 

Worth reading again. 

I have created a mini eBook that unwraps ingredients of 'Baggage' - and how it plays a part in your inner squasher stuff! It is full of actions to try. Pop your name and email in below and it will whizz into your inbox (possibly junk or spam).