“The past will be your teacher if you learn from it: your master if you live in it. ”
- Steve Maraboli
Is baggage from past relationships and life experiences holding you back from being the loving person you were born to be? If so, you are fighting a baggage battle. Everyone has baggage to some degree, whether they are willing to admit it or not. Baggage battles are emotionally exhausting for you and adversely affect your self-esteem and personal relationships. Excess emotional baggage hurts us and those we love. While our past can inform our future, it doesn't have to BE our future. So how do we ditch the baggage?
First, we need to get really honest with ourselves and what's going on in our mind. We're not actually pushing an overflowing luggage trolley everywhere we go, although we may feel so exhausted, it's as if we were. It's our thinking that's weighing heavily on our spirit. Our own thinking is causing us pain.
Believe it or not, this is good news. We can change our thinking. Each and every one of us is in charge of their own mind. Now there's a liberating thought! Of course, if we are in charge of something, we are also responsible for it. We can choose which of our thoughts to keep and which to discard.
Hilary, an old work colleague of mine, met Denis through an online dating site. She had been out of her marriage for two years and finally succumbed to friends and family telling her to “get out there” and ”get a life." By nature Hilary was calm, warm and kind. These traits, along with her good looks had historically made her a bit of a man-magnet.
Denis was initially very happy with her personality. However, after about six weeks he became less attentive, called infrequently and was reluctant to schedule a date. Hilary, who had been out of the dating scene for about twenty years, was perplexed. What had she done wrong? He had been so keen, constantly talking about plans for their future. Now he barely wanted to know her. Hilary decided making assumptions would get her nowhere, so she called Denis, explained how she was feeling and asked him to help her understand what was going on. Denis replied “You are too nice. We wouldn't get on. I prefer women who yell at me."
Hilary explained that she wasn't putting on an act. That was who she was. She didn't yell at people and preferred to discuss issues in a calm manner and agree to disagree if necessary. However, Denis couldn't believe that she wasn't hiding her true nature and did not want to pursue the relationship. He did admit the same thing had happened before and other women had been upset that he thought they were hiding their true natures.
Denis was dragging a laden-down trolley of luggage through life with him. He not only failed to find love, he hurt some lovely women for being ”too nice” and left them wondering how to authentically relate to a man. His past was dominating his life. As a young man Denis had fallen in love with a narcissistic woman. Her true nature did not emerge until they were married. His life had been hell, but this had nothing to do with Hilary or the other women he had met.
Part of the human experience is learning from our mistakes. The keyword here is learning from our mistakes, not being paralysed by fear because we made mistakes in our love life. Many women give up on love after a series of failed relationships and sometimes after one failed relationship.
These lovely, vibrant women dedicate themselves to raising their children. When the children leave the nest, they keep busy with work, hobbies and perhaps travel. There's no doubt that women can have interesting and fulfilling lives as singles in the 21st century. We no longer need a man for survival. We can channel our need for love and connection into our children, grandchildren, friends and pets. It's certainly comfortable and safe to live that way. So why is there a sense of emptiness?
Baggage from our childhood, life experiences and past relationships is holding us back. While it's better to be single than in a bad relationship, it's infinitely better to be in a stable, loving relationship. Why let fear from the past keep you from happiness now?
Here's a quote I really want you to think about. The author is unknown.
“You create your thoughts,
Your thoughts create your intentions,
And your intentions create your reality.”
In a nutshell it's a three-step process:
Essentially we are what we think. Our thoughts affect our body and our spirit. Thoughts can heal us or make us ill. They can attract or repel love.
Going back to the story of Hilary and Denis, we can understand why Denis is fearful of women. However, he will not find love and happiness from a place of fear. It's not hatred, but fear, that is the opposite of love. Meantime, Hilary wonders if nice women truly do finish last. Does she have to be a bitch to attract a man?
In reality we can only be ourselves and that is good enough. If you are jumping through hoops and bending yourself into a pretzel to make a relationship work, stop right now. I mean it! Stop right now. Real love doesn't come from being inauthentic. Not all that purports to be love is actually love. We will look at the four types of love in the next chapter.
What beliefs are you carrying over from past relationships? Often these beliefs are gross generalities. A passing thought has over the years become your reality. You are going to be doing quite a bit of writing to help you release redundant and limiting beliefs. I suggest you purchase a notebook, journal, or even a school exercise book to record your thoughts. Keep it safe and private.
The 3-Step Thought Release Process
Identify the thoughts
Make a list of thoughts that you are holding onto about men and relationships. Beside each one, write down where this thought originated.
Thought – All men are bastards.
Origin – Stuart left me for his secretary after I had a mastectomy.
Challenge the thoughts
Thought – All men are bastards.
Challenge – Is this absolutely true without any doubt at all?
Reframe – Stuart may well be a bastard for leaving me, but not all men are bastards.
Remember that this thought stems from a generalisation, so if you can think of even one ”good" man you have known, then the answer must be no. If the answer is no, then an untrue thought has created an untrue reality in your life.
How has this thought served you positively in the past?
The anger I felt about Stuart and men in general helped me get through the pain of his betrayal at such a vulnerable time in my life.
How does this thought hold you back from finding love now?
I'm too scared to date in case I get rejected for not being a ”real woman" in the same way that Stuart rejected me.
Who would I be without the thought?
I would be open to meeting a man who is looking for a life partner. I would let him know very early in the relationship that I was a breast cancer survivor and that he needed to be okay with this for the relationship to continue.
Releasing thoughts that no longer serve us is a process. There is no magic bullet. We have to be prepared to dig deep to make it happen. If you need assistance with the process, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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