Leaving Your Baggage Behind

We all carry around so much emotional baggage
In the last few weeks I have been on about 10 airplanes in 3 countries. It is hard not to notice how much baggage people carry with them on the plane since the airline industry has started charging fees to check your bag.  Watching people shove their luggage into the overhead bins is about as much fun as root canal surgery. The squeezing, shoving and schlepping makes me cringe as I watch people struggle to pack away their over-filled bags in the overhead storage. Passengers squirm as they try to protect themselves from free-falling roller bags.

Bag this idea
This repeated bag ballet coincided with a recent conversation that I had with a friend of mine who was having difficulty letting go of some of his own emotional baggage. Like his suitcase, he was filled with various feelings about his workplace, family and other personal matters. At work he didn't feel he was getting all the credit he deserved for some areas he championed. He carried this baggage around with him like the airplane travelers with the bulging suitcases. All this made me think about the joy of letting go and the remarkable power that comes from leaving your baggage behind.

Overhead baggage
I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area but I have worked very hard over many years to unpack my “stuff” and not lug it around with me.  With respect to my friend and to others who are in a similar situation, please allow me to offer a tip on the joy of traveling light without carrying the emotional baggage along for your daily journey.

The Walking Meeting 
We all want recognition for the work that we do.  Each of us craves to be acknowledged for our contributions. But there are times when the credit isn’t communicated well to others and you can easily feel slighted. I appreciate why it is so important to be recognized. We all crave praise for our efforts. 

When I do feel slighted, I play this little game with myself while I am walking. I pretend that I am in front of my colleagues and have their undivided attention. I like to think of it as a ‘walking meeting’. And as they all look at me, I proceed to explain to them my reality – or how I see the situation. They aren't allowed to talk or object. They must listen to me speak. I don’t actually say it out loud but I talk and walk and give voice to the situation. It is like a meeting I hold in my head but it is important to do it while I am taking a walk and moving forward.

I tell the audience what they don’t know about my role compared with co-workers.  I outline in great detail why I deserve the credit for this, that and the other thing. I to share my inside view on the topic. I go on and on about me. 

All on Bored
After about 20 minutes of praising myself using the voice in my head, I start getting pretty bored and a wonderful thing happens; I no longer care who gets the credit. Even my ego says, "enough already". Suddenly I start to let go. It is as if I have dropped off pieces from my baggage behind me and my load is lighter. I feel as if I have walked it off. Sometimes giving voice to it allows you to release this heavy load and it feels good to leave it behind. Walking is important since I can pretend to let some of the baggage out as I move forward. 

Pack light for your life's journey 

So the next time you feel slighted or underappreciated at work, take your baggage and your co-workers out for a virtual walk. Spend about 20 minutes singing your own praise. If you are like most people, by the time you finish, you should feel a weight lifted as you unzip your feelings and eliminate some of the excess. 

Learn to let go and carry on. 

Note: This post was published on the anniversary of my father's birthday (January 29th). He was a master at letting go, leaving grudges behind and leaving his excess baggage behind. I miss him every day. 

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