Managing Your Own Baggage

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with some individuals on how to address stress and unhealthy relationships. What I came to realize is that many do not understand that no one is exempt from stress or ever experiencing an unhealthy relationship. These are just two of many scenarios that we can face in our lives.  In presenting this information to my clients, I gave the illustration of a person with baggage.  We all have baggage.  Yours may be a purse, a clutch, a duffel bag, a suitcase or even a paper or plastic bag.  Whatever form it comes in, realize that it is still a method of holding things such as groceries, personal care items, clothing, emotions, stress, or frustrations. You name it, it has a bag.

On this journey called life, we have the obligation to evaluate relationships, situations and circumstances that we face.  In doing so, keep in mind that there may times when our experiences also involve someone else’s experiences which has the potential to create added stress. 

Here are 7 things to keep in mind when managing baggage:

1)       Know what is in your bag.

It is very important that you know what it is in your bag, what you carry, what you give out of your bag and what you replace it with. Be mindful of what you are dealing with and take with you daily. This requires a level of self-awareness that is necessary to manage one’s self accordingly and diligently. 

2)      Clean out your bag periodically.

There are times that I will actually begin to throw out some things that are either trash, expired, or just no longer needed for my daily routine.  I follow the same steps for my mind and my spirit. I reflect on what God wants me to keep, what is no longer needed, expired (meaning, it no longer has a place of value in my life) and/or just not needed at that point in time.  I love cleaning out my bag (and my mind) for it makes the journey so much lighter.  The time it takes to do this, is something that we do not like, but once the task is completed, we are better off than when we started.   

3)      Keep your bag organized.

Be aware of what is in your bag at any given time.  If you are anything like me, you may carry the same bag with you for weeks at a time not really knowing what is in the bag.  Every now and then, I go through my bags and organize them in a way so that I know what is in each area of the bag. This is the same for my emotional well-being.  Often, I take time to organize my thoughts, my feelings, and my emotions in order to check myself. This allows me be confirm that my mind is organized, clear and focused.  This helps me to be the best ME.  This will also help you to be the best YOU!

4)      Don’t carry anyone else’s baggage.

Unless someone has a physical or emotional limitation, there is no reason for you to even consider carrying someone else’s baggage.  I am talking about baggage that has the potential to slow you down, strain a muscle or even blow up causing great harm.  As humans, it is in our nature to jump in help, however, consider your next steps before taking on more than you should.  Especially, when you are in a place of learning to manage your own bags and that person could benefit from learning to carry and manage their own baggage as well.

5)      Keep your bags to a minimum.

Learn to pack light for the journey.  When traveling, have you ever packed as if you were going on a two-week vacation when you would only be gone for three days?  I definitely have been in this situation.  We do this when tackling multiple situations especially within our relationships.  We may overthink a situation or try to manage too much in effort to address the situation. We pack more than we should, realizing that it creates more confusion because we could not decide what to use for trip or our situations.  By keeping your bags to a minimum, you increase your chances and your ability to maneuver better. When you have less to carry, you can get the job done more efficiently. 

6)      Know when to throw some bags away. 

Let’s just get straight to the nitty gritty on this one.  Have you ever been carrying bags back and forth to work because you think you need what is in there?  This is the case for many professionals.  What I have found is that when you finally go through the bag, you realize that you no longer need what is in there and that the bag is so worn that it has no purpose moving forward.  It is imperative that you begin to look at what you carry with you daily.  My mantra is Pause. Reflect. Revive.  Take the moment, to pause and reflect on what it is you take with you emotionally daily.  Reflect on its value, evaluate if it is helpful or harmful. If it is the latter, trash it.  Get rid of it.  Remove it from your life so that you can experience a more Revived Life. Got it? Good.

7)      Don’t go back to being the Bag-Person!

Once you do all of this, walk in your freedom. Be a 1-2 bag minimum person. Walk and move in a manner where you can manage your emotions, tasks, and relationships, more effectively. Take time to process what you need without feeling like you are responsible for others baggage.

I encourage my clients daily to manage themselves accordingly by prioritizing them.  When solving your problems, the main person needed for the task is YOU.  Prioritize you no matter what, even when it may appear selfish. Taking care of you, is a form of self-care and mental health.  Let determination be a factor as you establish emotional wellness at a greater level.  Pack light for one!