We all have a bag, even men carry one around, although they like to keep theirs out of view a lot of the time. Our bags are all different shapes & sizes, some are rucksacks easily carried on our backs, with lots of zippy pockets that allow us to take a multitude of things to different places. Some of us have weekend bags that carry just about enough for a few days but lots of ‘just incase’ options. And some people have bags that carry about everything they could possibly need for every possible occasion! Some heavy, some light, some big, some small.
My bag used to be massive, weighed a bloody tonne and I took it everywhere I went, literally dragging it around with me. I was proud to have such a large bag and still live the life I was living. The size of my bag surprised some people who said they would have buckled under the weight of it if it had been theirs! I carried it around like a badge of honour, “look at me aren’t I strong?” I’d gladly show people my bag if ever they wanted to see it as I always had it with me, a constant companion each day. But I started to get tired of lugging this great colossal thing around, it was becoming a bit too much to carry as a had accumulated so much and I had a habit of gathering more stuff! It’s not that I didn’t have the strength to, I just didn’t want to. It started getting in the way, having to consider how the bag would impact on what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to see, what I wanted to experience. I wanted something much smaller, easier to take around with me, portable, manageable, something that would leave me free to make choices in my life and not feel so burdened.
You see, what’s inside our bag is our Story. All those things that have happened to us in our lives that make us who we are and have formed our character. Things like great childhood memories, places you’ve been lucky enough to visit, fantastic people you’ve met, achievements, dreams that have come true, milestones achieved, love for yourself and others, friendships, all those things that have inspired you and made you YOU. Not so bad you might say? Why wouldn’t you want to have all that stuff with you to remember, to reflect on and be proud of?
Yes, that’s very true but there is a lot of other ‘stuff’ we shove in our bags and that stuff is generally on the top hiding all the good stuff from view! The content of this part of our bag is the story we tell ourselves about the ‘not so great stuff’ that’s happened in our lives. I’ll tell you I had a load of that going on, right at the top and almost spilling over! In this part of my bag I had a few broken marriages, serious ill health, being bullied, lost dreams, all my failures and my apparent inability to create the life I wanted. It was all wrapped up with guilt, anger, frustration, worry, lack of self love, fear of being ‘found out’, grief, a myriad of emotions. All of which I took everywhere I went. I thought it justified who I was, made me real and, let’s be honest, who would I be without it?
However, I hadn’t realised just now much I did carry around with me until I opened up the bag and took a look inside. A scary prospect but one that had to be done if I was to really understand myself and renew my sense of self. Who was I without these stories? Who would I be if I wasn’t experiencing all these emotions?
So now you might begin to understand why I no longer wanted to be held back by the weight of this stuff I’d been carrying around for far too long. I hadn’t realized just how heavy it had become and that I even thought or cared about half the stuff that was in it. My own personal Journey to Wellness has been about unpacking that great, heavy bag. Some of the ‘stuff’ was quite easy to discard, some of it has taken an element of self discovery and some of it was so heavy I called on help to walk with me whilst I let it go.
Through this process I now realise who I am. I am not those things that have happened to me, yes they have been tough and bloody awful to bear but they are not me. I am the strength I took from those events, not the events themselves. I stripped myself of the emotional baggage I clung onto and simply let go.
So now my bag is now significantly lighter and rather more portable!! It doesn’t weigh me down and it certainly doesn’t define where I go! I can see what’s in it more readily and I can feel when it’s time for a clear out. I will never have to get a bigger bag, that’s a promise I’ve made to myself as I now realise that I will always be working on me and the person I want to become. We all have to learn, develop, grow and feel we have a purpose, it’s part of the wonder of our human experience. I hadn’t realised just how much the burden of my huge bag was having on my ability to do just that.
I’m sure you are now visualizing your own bag, what size is it, what shape does it need to be to accommodate all that ‘stuff’ you are lugging around with you? How much does it impact on your own life and your nearest and dearest? What’s the good stuff that’s in it that you definitely want to keep but what’s hiding it from view at the top?
We all have the right to a life full of love, joy, creativity, meaning, peace and purpose so perhaps it’s now time to lighten the load and clear out that bag?