We all have our “baggage”, events in our life, typically ones that had a negative impact, which we carry with us. These are the things we ruminate about as we’re falling asleep. Some of us carry these issues for days, weeks, even our lifetime.
I learned about “baggage” on a job in my youth. I have a strong work ethic and strive to take care of all the details in any job. Early one week, the owner returned from a supposed client meeting but the client had cancelled. The client claimed that he had advised me and assumed that I had passed along the message. I had left a note on my boss’s desk, which he had apparently not seen. My boss had not seen the message. Ergo he was annoyed at his having just driven all the way downtown. This really bothered me. Later in the week my boss called me at home on a different matter. At the end of the conversation, I added, “I’ve been thinking about the mishap this week, and I’m sure I put that message…..” He interrupted me, “It’s okay. It’s a non-issue.” Then, very slowly, he said, “You can let it go now.” He knew I had been carrying this baggage all week. I had been stewing over it. This was a huge learning moment.
We all need to learn to ‘let go’. It’s not just specific single experiences – it can be much bigger. If most of the men in your life have been controlling, then there might be a tendency to think all men are controlling. If most of the women in your life have been manipulative, then there might be a tendency to think all women are manipulative. Many people paint an entire group the same colour as one experience. We do it as consumers all the time. If you were mistreated at one branch of a store, you might boycott the whole chain; whereas perhaps you just happened upon one clerk at one store who was having a bad day.
The focus of negative occurrences in our lives isn’t just a waste of time; it can hinder our outlook on life. We cannot move forward effectively if we’re always looking in the rear-view mirror. Bad things happen. We cannot change that. We can, however, think about them for a bit, analyze what we might do or react to them differently the next time, and then file them away only to be brought to the forefront if absolutely necessary. We can learn from them and then move on. Let go of them.