Having “It” Together
It is a fundamental truth that we all have baggage. Now, baggage has gotten a really bad rap because it sounds negative. We all have stories of hurt, wounds that are in the process of healing, and some still fresh as the day they happened.
Below are 10 tips for working through baggage- yours first, and then supporting someone else’s journey. These are things I’ve learned, practice and come back to!
There are things that are just plain personal, and things that we’ve experienced as a result of oppression. Whether it is sexism, heterosexism or racism (and more). This all compounds to create quite the cocktail of baggage- stories we carry. Most of this needs our TLC and acknowledgement, and others can be addressed by others (mainly the offenders) and redeemed.
But when we are not self-aware we can’t see the impact of those wounds on ourselves or others. Some of the things I’ve experienced and observed is that it first impacts your overall wellbeing. Our bodies remember. Next, anything that smells similar to the initial offense (whether or not it is) causes us to be reactive to everything that comes our way without evaluation. We become hypersensitive and project A LOT. When we are hurt there is a vulnerability that accompanies that, rendering us with feelings of powerlessness. We seek to get our power back, which can feel like a bulldozer for the person on the other side. But at that moment, the last thing the hurt person is thinking about are the feelings of others. There is a cycle and dynamic at play. The key to this is our self-awareness and what we do when we are being triggered.
How do we know when to have a conversation or when it is our own work?
Here are somethings I’ve learned, practice and come back to!
1-It is my job to get to the heart of the matter for myself: What is really going on for me? What the hell is going on with the other person?
2-How much am I talking about it and is it one person constantly committing the offense?
3-Does it feel like a theme? You experience it here and there and everywhere? The truth is that a wound has been cut so deep that your eyes are colored by it ANNNND it is a sign from great spirit that it is time to work on healing that wound.
4-Talk to someone who can listen and give you feedback on what they hear. This is a little trickier because you have to trust that person and also be open to the feedback otherwise it doesn’t serve. Especially if the person is afraid of retaliation.
5-You must become aware of the line between you and another- where the baggage begins and ends and what is theirs.
6-Holding someone accountable for their actions and creating a personal offense out of it are two different things. We are wired like that as humans, right? It is personal when you feel hurt by it, but if it happens out of ignorance or lack of awareness it’s not personal. Distinguishing between this can be powerful and healing or it can hurt more than we think; one means forgiveness and healing the other closes the doors (we need to make sure that is a price we are willing to pay).
7-If it calls for a conversation, does the other person have the capacity to understand or are you going to spend hours convincing them that it was an offense because of how it impacted you? Deep stuff here- sometimes if we have to convince the person because it is way beyond their capacity to understand, we wind up hurting ourselves further. If you feel objective enough to have the conversation and teaching time then by all means…
8-Sometimes space is OK! I think sometimes conversation expectations do us damage, causing us to think that we are always going to walk away in agreement or resolved. Some folks you’ve got to let go of. And find ways to bring wholeness to yourself and allow others to heal some of that with you- not for you, with you. For example- if you have had a negative experience with your mother, another woman with healthy motherly energy can be part of healing that experience.
9- Take this whole list and when you encounter someone else’s baggage think about where they might be. Own your own place + power and give them the space to figure out theirs.
10- Ultimately grace and space to grow. Sometimes that looks very well handled and other times a train wreck! Know that we are all growing; we all reserve the right to hold on or let go. But we need to own our choices and our processes.
The best way to take this in is to listen to it first, Then sit and do the soulwork.