IS YOUR PAST PREVENTING YOU TO MOVE AHEAD
STORY OF RAMU & SHYAMU CHACHA
Once upon a time, there lived a child Ramu in a small town and he had no shelter. One day he met an old Shyamu Chacha who also had no shelter. They started spending their life together. Shyamu Chacha had a very heavy bag that he kept on his shoulder. Being old, he was not able to bear the load of that heavy bag. Ramu wanted to share his load but Shyamu Chacha never allowed him to say that it is his load and he only has to carry this.
On a terrific cold day, Shyamu chacha lost his life. Now, Ramu was left with his bag. From the beginning he was anxious to know about the contents of the bag, so he opened the bag. And guess what! The bag had nothing but Shyamu Chacha’s negative experiences of life: stories of his failures, grief and hurts. And, oh God! He carried this heavy load throughout his life and as a result, he could not achieve anything. If only, he had thrown this baggage off his shoulders long back, he could have moved ahead in life and upgraded his living.
Just stop here for a moment friend.
Now, think about your own life. Are you experiencing deadlock in some area of your life? If not, it is great. If yes, then think seriously. Is it because of the heavy emotional baggage you are carrying?
What is emotional baggage? Collins English Dictionary defines emotional baggage as “The feelings you have about your past and the things that have happened to you, which often have a negative effect on your behavior and attitudes.” Emotional baggage is about several insecurities that we develop over our lifetime, based on our experiences or the way our upbringing has taken place. Shyamu Chacha had a painful past. He stored his negative memories in his bag and never let them go. With such memories his attitude became negative and he spent a worthless life.
Most of us have emotional baggage. But very few know about this. It is time to examine what is there in your baggage? Let us see how does the emotional baggage accumulates its load?
- FAMILY BAGGAGE:
Childhood experiences play an important role in the development of emotional baggage.
Amrita (all names changed) was an HR Manager in a multinational company. She came to me with her problem of having trouble at Work. She was not getting cooperation from peers and other concerned with her assignments. During the course of the discussion about her childhood, it was observed that her parents had no belief in others. They used to say that people are selfish and will always deceive you. Amrita never examined this belief but filled her emotional baggage with this, apparently not so true, assumption. As a result, she never believed her classmates during education and now in her professional career, she lost faith in others. As a result, she could not get support from others and she failed miserably. I could help her using transactional analysis concepts to explain how her experience as a child is affecting her life today. She learned to unpack this baggage of unbelief and moved ahead in life.
RELATIONSHIP BAGGAGE :
An abusive relationship is often a constraint for the growth of a person. Many children observe the fight that takes place in their home amongst their parents. This creates a lot of material for their emotional baggage.
I know a shop owner who has two sons, now in their early forties. Both have not married. When I asked them why they have not married, their reply was that they have seen their parents fighting always and therefore they don’t want to replay the same situation in their life. Their baggage is full of fights linked with married life. Just see, how their baggage has spoiled their family life.
Sometime during my corporate career, one of my closed friends deceived me badly. My trust was completely broken. Our relationship was in the doldrums. And this affected my performance. People around me were watching without having any empathy. I knew that it can affect my future career but I was not able to move out of the situation due to the hurt that I had experienced. My bag was full of hurt feelings. But friends! I was lucky. I came across a book of Robert Schuller, “Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do”. This book changed my life completely and helped me to come out of that situation and move ahead with more excitement. Yes! You guessed it right. I threw my emotional baggage.
FEELINGS BAGGAGE :
Hurt, guilt, grief, grudge, and fear are the most powerful feelings that affect our baggage.
Example 1 (Hurt):
While counseling Chakresh, I found that in one of the exams in school he could not do well, as he was suffering from fever. However, looking at his low score his teacher told him that he will never be able to get success in life. He got hurt and filled his baggage full of this hurt. Now he is an adult but this baggage stops him from getting success in any of his endeavors and he keeps registering his failures everywhere.
Example 2 (Grief):
One of my colleagues lost his teenage daughter a few years back. His wife has not come out of that situation to date. Her baggage of grief has spoiled the peace of the family and the openings of happiness are appearing to be closed.
Similarly, there are situations in life where people may develop feelings of guilt, grudge or fear, etc. These feelings create negative content for emotional baggage. And this may drag a person back and keep him or her from making progress in a positive direction.
EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CAN DAMAGE YOUR LIFE:
Each one of us has negative experiences in life. During your early life, you are faced with sibling or children rivalry. While in school, you face challenges from classmates, teachers, parents, and relatives. At college, your challenges may become bigger. After marriage, you find that your spouse is not 100 % in tuning with you and the differences become part of your unresolved problems. At the job, there is peer pressure but the most disturbing challenges come from the boss or from your team members. The business has its own challenges.
Every hard thing that you go through at any stage of your life leaves its mark. The healing time depends upon the depth of the hurt. Quite often, the hurt is impregnated deep inside the heart and you are not able to come out of this hurt. Over a time many such hurts become packed inside your emotional baggage and it stops your progress. Let us understand how it happens by an example:
One of my neighbors, Rajdeep, was having a business in partnership with his friend, Sushant. Rajdeep had a big loss in the business due to cheating by his partner. Rajdeep had an option to continue his business separately and regain his losses in due course of time. But his suitcase was now packed with fear and hurt. Therefore, he chose another course of action. He had taken a job but due to differences with a boss, he had to resign. He took another job but there also, he had the same fate. When he came to me for counseling, he was working for another Organization and was under extreme pressure. To come out with this painful situation, he had to accept the fact that his bag is full of fear and hatred. After following 6 steps as explained below he has learned to empty his bag and is now progressing fast.
6 STEPS TO GET RID OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE:
Your emotional baggage is built up with your past failures, bad memories, general worries, personal losses, and embarrassing experiences that you can’t forget. Before starting your journey for success, your emotional baggage must be emptied. Your degree of success will depend upon the level to which you can empty this bag. Let us learn to follow these steps for success:
- Learn to recognize the content of your emotional baggage. Each one of us has something or other attached to this. Write down the areas of your life in which you are not able to move forward even after putting your best efforts e.g. friendship or relationship issues with someone, challenges in job or business, financial issues, family challenges, some type of threats from others etc. Relate it to one of the 3 types of baggage discussed above. This baggage is stopping you to grow and you need to empty this.
- Think rationally in the present situation. Today you are an adult. Is it not possible for you to get rid of your past? Find out ways to empty your bag. If you were deceived once, don’t just think that you can be deceived forever. Learn from it the ways you can stop others to deceive you.
- Apply Forget and Forgive approach. Yesterday is gone out of your hands. But you have control over your present and future. Say goodbye to your past negative memories. Don’t let guilt, grudge or hurt overpower you. Don Gosset has written in his book, “What you say is what you get” that if you are not getting results even after best efforts, it may be due to the fact that you have not forgiven someone. So, forgive yourself first. Then forgive others.
- Control your thoughts. Practice thinking positively. You may say that thinking positive when everything in life is going haywire is impractical. But remember, every adversity has seeds of an equivalent or greater benefit. Positive thinking helps you to convert defeat into victory. Write down your positive words and read them several times a day. This will help you to empty your negative baggage and fill it with positives.
- Work on your dreams and goals. You need to have a strong focus on your dreams and goals. Write down your goals. Dream followed by date is your goal. Have passionate goals. Focus on your goals. If anything comes on way to derail your plan of action, examine your emotional baggage. If something from emotional baggage is stopping you, identify it and throw it out of your bag.
- Every weekend; spend 30 minutes with your family members. Each one of you can talk about your experience about collecting material for your emotional baggage in that week. And determine to throw away whatever you collected before you start the new week, tomorrow. After a few weeks, you will be able to stop the collection in emotional baggage automatically without such formal gathering. You can have such an exercise with your friends or colleagues etc.
ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY:
I know people who have great potential but are not big achievers. This happens because they limit their potential due to their heavy emotional baggage. If only they can learn to throw their emotional baggage, they can register great successes.
Friends! This is your own life and you are actually living it. It is not a rehearsal. Enjoy life. Don’t let small issues destroy your peace. If something had happened which you don’t like, forget it and move on. Unless you move on, how shall you find the garden of beautiful roses? Don’t miss to enjoy the lovely moments of life. You can feel the love, grace, and happiness in life only when you empty your emotional baggage.
Love your parents, your spouse, your children and all those to whom you come in contact. Spread love. With love, you can remove the heavy load of emotional baggage off your shoulders and continue the journey of life with great fun and enjoyment.
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