Be Your Best You: Eliminate Baggage

My friends and family know that I wear my heart on my sleeve.

And that’s just the way that I am and the way that I’ll always be.

edit: As I read this two and a half years later, I can’t help but realize the danger in making binary / black and white thinking, i.e., “And that’s just the way that I am and the way that I’ll always be.” Life doesn’t have to be like that, because when we think like that we corner ourselves in. / edit

For awhile I developed an envious admiration for people who were more guarded with their feelings than I was. And not just guarded – but detached to the point of being cold and distant.

Definitely not a healthy model in retrospect – but at the time I had grown to feel that I was a victim of my relationships and that my emotions were holding me hostage.

I saw these people as superior because they didn’t seem to feel the pain that I felt and they didn’t seem susceptible to falling victim to the trials of life in the way that I did – because I was more vulnerable to being hurt as a result of my open hearted and emotional nature.

Sounds messy – and it is when you see yourself like that. You start rebelling against who you are in the way that only adults do.

So, I did that. I told myself things. Because I had to. I told myself not to feel that way, not to be that way, and I backed it up with a host of reasons why I knew better than to be ‘an idiot’.

Other people told me how to be as well. I even convinced myself that if I followed their advice that I could master life and I could master relationships.

I would grow up and mature – I’d become different.

Because being a nice guy and feeling feelings wasn’t the way to get girls and be alpha and be independent and everything else the people I attracted into my life expected of me.

So, how did that work out for me? Well – I’m happy to report that I’m back to being a sweet, open hearted idiot.

One of the big paradigms I have in the way I view life, is that I think our truest nature (not personality or behavior – but our nature) is closest to our nature as children.

Healthy children aren’t afraid to love. They aren’t focused on changing who they are so that they can handle life better. They are just immersed in living life.

Their beliefs are still largely rooted in their personalities and their feelings rather than being based on their experiences and their dispositions about life.

They are still exploring life through an open mind, an open heart, and open eyes.

They have yet to develop attitudes about life as a consequence of negative experiences and painful emotions.

‘People are bad’ or ‘men are pigs’ or ‘women are shallow’ and all the other disempowering beliefs and attitudes that we have let corrupt our true nature, which for many of us – is a distant memory.

This is just baggage. We all collect it. Attitudes about our feelings. Learned justification for our perceptions and the cure for our perceived ‘naïveté, which we use as an excuse as to why we didn’t previously perceive things in the same manner.

‘We were just naive’.

That’s what we tell ourselves. And it helps us feel better, because it wasn’t our fault – we didn’t know better and now we know better and we won’t get hurt and be so naive again.

And this continues throughout the years. But we don’t view it as baggage. We view it as a better understanding of life. More experience and more maturity. But those are misnomers.

We are really just becoming more old and bitter.

True understanding, experience, and maturity opens the heart – never closing it. It swells the heart.

Baggage – let’s call it what it is – closes the heart, closes the mind, and further distances ourselves from the freedom we had as children.

Before life happened to us. Before we ‘knew what we know now’.

But wait, you aren’t bitter – you’re realistic. ‘People really are in it for themselves and money is the most important thing to them and girls care more about security than love, or all guys care about is sex’.

Guess what – those learned beliefs are baggage. The list goes on and on and it’s different for everyone, but we all have it. Some of it was taught to us by our parents, some of it learned, but all of it invented for the same purpose – to protect us from negative experiences and emotions.

I don’t care how many of your friends feel the same way, or how many times you have seen evidence of your beliefs being true – it’s still baggage.

Whatever it is you have come to believe about life that does not empower you is baggage.

And baggage is a dangerous thing for that reason; It’s very disempowering.

We attract people into our lives based mainly on shared beliefs. That’s just the nature of social spheres and the power of beliefs as a tool to unite and divide people.

So, we are drawn to people who ‘feel our pain’, because it’s human nature to seek empathy and understanding. Misery loves company for a reason.

And our beliefs shape our perceptions of the world. They literally shape the way we see things. They can empower us to have empathy for the way others are and to understand the weight of society on each of us, or they can disempower us to stereotype people – and to judge others based on our expectations and assumptions.

But it’s all based in our beliefs. Belief shapes perception, perception shapes reality. Somewhere between perception and reality our interactions are playing themselves out according to the ‘rules of life’ that we’ve come to adopt. Our baggage.

Because baggage tends to play itself out like that. We tend to recreate situations where our baggage gains more evidence and validation.

That’s just the law of attraction. I wish I could attempt to eloquently explain it – but I’ll just settle on saying that our beliefs are the most powerful shaping force in our lives.

So, you can be bitter and miserable: You can base your judgement on these beliefs and judge others for their naïveté. You can behave according to your beliefs and lament the behavior of others. You can attract like minded people into your life and you can clash with those who are different. And you can live a life fueled by resentment.

Or you can be naïve and happy: You can free yourself from the confines of your baggage and the constant need to provide supporting evidence through judgement. You can behave according to your true, authentic-self and find perspective in the behavior of others. You can attract other open-minded individuals into your life and accept those who are different. And you can live a life fueled by childlike wonder.

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