Putting It Into Practice
Now that you’ve got some understanding of what baggage is and how clearing it up will benefit you both, it’s time to put this knowledge into use over the course of the next month.
1. Thought Stopping
Take the List O’ Baggage you wrote in Lesson 1 and read it over. These areas need to be dealt with if you want to move forward. When you catch yourself thinking, speaking or acting upon any of these areas, STOP and BREATHE. Tell yourself that those notions are in the past and you choose to move forward. Continue to recite this until you feel the anxious, angry or sad feelings decrease. Witness the frequency of these occurances decrease and the intensity of the feelings diminish as you take a more neutral stance. If you find that despite your attempts to change your thought patterns you still find yourself fixating, this may be a sign to seek some personal counseling. This can give you the additional support you need and an alternative skill set to cope with your past until you fee resolution and less overwhelmed.
2. Practice Forgiveness
Choose something or someone that moderately annoys you (nothing too serious, save that for later). Make the decision that you are going to make your best effort to see that situation or person with neutrality over the course of the next week. Begin seeing it the same way you would as if you were peering into the life of someone you didn’t know…with no emotional attachment. Look at it like a science experiment, where facts and data are the only things that matter. Try accepting it for what it is, knowing that you are freeing your valuable emotional real estate up for more pressing things. The only thing you have to lose here is the time you’re wasting on spending your resources with zero gains. Continue to practice this until you feel your strong emotions toward this circumstance or person diminish, then tackle another until you can manage something particularly challenging.
3. Try Compassion
Once you are better at managing your automatic responses to things that used to trigger you and you can take a stance of neutrality, try practicing compassion. Choose one of the circumstances you practiced with for the previous exercise and focus on being compassionate for a week. Compassionate people develop sensitivity and kindness toward people and circumstances by having an understanding of the other’s position and a willingness to soften your own stance due to this awareness. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve been through the same thing, but you can imagine what someone in that position, given their views and life experience is going through. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you shed some of your rigid way of seeing that person or situation and allow you to evolve and grow. This fresh perspective will free up space for you to approach the situation with a new vantage point that may allow for new solutions and ideas to emerge.