The phrase “carrying baggage” reminds me of people, trying to fit a “too large” piece of luggage into a plane’s overhead compartment. They seemingly don’t want to “check” the bag at the ticket counter, so, they push, prod and squeeze the bag in hopes it will fit. All that effort, only to have the attendant “check” the bag at the boarding gate.
I have seen this transaction happen over and over again. Efforts to avoid the “checked bag” fee result in the luggage being “checked” anyway. Life is sometimes like this too. We find ourselves carrying baggage that we should have “checked” in the past.
What Are You Carrying
I recently heard Joyce Meyer say the following: “Don’t carry yesterday’s mess into today.” Of course I started thinking about whether I had any “mess” that I am trying to carry from the past into today. The short answer is YES!
There seems to be two general kinds of baggage carriers. Nostalgic people hold onto memories and feelings that keep them from enjoying the present. And ruminators are people who overthink and get stuck in the cycle of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” and can’t enjoy the present. Which one are you?
I’m not a very nostalgic person although I am terrific at ruminating. Without question, I have mastered the ability to replay an event over and over in my mind. Each time imagining things I could have done or said differently. Or, I imagine interactions that will likely never happen and consider all the possible outcomes. It’s an obsessive loop that yields nothing in the end. Rumination is definitely baggage I should “check”!
Checking My Bags
It’s hard to admit how often I do this but acknowledgement is the first step toward a solution. Now that I recognize this negative thinking pattern, I can take action to stop it. When I find myself in this loop, it’s time to check my bags. Here are some things I do to stop this negative pattern:
- Distract myself with a task, change of scenery, or even watching a movie.
- Remind myself that overthinking is a waste of time that leads to nowhere.
- Take action if there is something that needs to be resolved.
- Meditate to restore my focus on the present.
Life is simply too short to not be fully present. The people I love most deserve to have my full attention and not a distracted version of myself. I don’t want to miss the joys and opportunities of today because I won’t let go of yesterday’s stuff.
I’m definitely a work in progress and focused on enjoying each new day without carrying baggage.