Married- Dealing With Baggage
How Do I Let Go of Baggage?
How Do I Let Go of Baggage?
In order to tackle this dilemma, I’ve created an exercise that I invite you to complete. Get out some paper and a pen.
Let’s take some inventory about how much this is impacting your present life. Answer the following questions to create your own List O’ Baggage:
- What kinds of things do the people in your life keep telling you about your behavior? (look for things you hear from multiple people…be honest)
- How often do you have contact with women from your past?
- How much time do you spend thinking and talking about past relationships?
- What kinds of feelings do these thoughts bring?
- How often do you compare your current relationship to the past?
- How similar are your recent relationships (i.e. communication style, lifestyle choices, conflict resolution style) to those of the past?
- How similar is your relationship history to that of your parents or other influential people?
- Do you find yourself in a similar state (i.e. financial, vocational, spiritual, intellectual, social) as you were several years ago and wish it were different?
- How often do you think about regrets and “mistakes” from your past?
- Do you find yourself in similar situations now?
- What are some situations that continuously creep into your mind and haunt you or cause anxiety?
Jot down your answers and look for any patterns you see. This may take a bit, but it is worth the time. Notice how you feel while you’re writing these things down, it’s telling about what kinds of emotions are associated with the past and how you may still be entangled in them now.
After you finish writing your answers, write down what you’re getting from holding onto the past. If retaining the past were only painful and you weren’t getting anything worthwhile from it, you’d already have let it go by now. It’s the same as eating something that tastes horrible. If it were that bad, you’d never take another bite. But if you find yourself going back to it, there must be something that makes you return for a second, third or thirteenth helping. For most, it’s along the lines of protecting yourself from further pain…defense mechanisms of sorts. If you continuously remind yourself of the situations that led to hurt and continuously re-experience them internally, you think that you can avoid it in the present. It’s as if you once were bit by a pit bull and by reminding yourself of the pain from the attack and by looking for others so that you don’t get bit again, you’ll remain safe. What you don’t yet understand is that by looking for a pit bull, you’ll find them everywhere; it’s the manifestation of what you’re focusing on. Or maybe you’re holding onto old stuff to justify your anger or poor treatment of others. If you let it go, there would be no excuse for treating someone badly now…you’d have to take full responsibility for yourself (something most of us really don’t want to do).
Next, write down on another page what you truly want for yourself. What kind of relationship to your wife (or your family, money, your ex) do you want now? As long as you retain your focus on what was (good or bad) there’s no room for anything different. Remember not to say things like “I want to not call or think about my ex anymore” or “I want to not be angry anymore”. It must be phrased according to what you want, not what you don’t want. Think of the opposite of your negative emotions or behavior and find words to describe that.
Take this page and compare it to the first series of questions you answered. How different are these lists? Likely you will see a big difference between what you’re currently doing and what you’d really like to be experiencing in your life now. Just notice the differences and try to look at them without judgment or criticism. When you’re ready, move on to Lesson 2.