In the aftermath of Mother’s Day I was surprised to hear a woman in the Y locker room express to her friend that Mother’s Day wasn’t her favorite holiday. She preferred to ignore it and will it to go away. Not wishing to appear intrusive, I went about combing my hair and pretending I wasn’t in earshot. Meanwhile, her friend offered a less than consoling reply.
Sighing heavily, the lamenting lady remarked that her children, in fact, went out of their way to make Sunday a special day for her. Perplexed, I had assumed she’d lost a child and had none. Or possibly, her mother, which might explain her despondency. Sadden by the exchange, I walked out wondering why she was so opposed to a day honoring the demanding, yet rewarding, position of motherhood. A gift not every woman is able to achieve in her lifetime.
Obviously, I have no idea what caused her overwhelming discouragement. However, I do know we consciously, or subconsciously, carry baggage which can negatively impact events in our lives. Even something as unassuming as Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, some of us decline letting go of a lifetime of baggage. Varying in perception and influence, yet, not without repercussions. We carry regret, guilt, anger, fear, control, unrealistic expectations, neediness or aloofness and many others believing this is who we are. Not true. These pieces of worn and tattered baggage simply define how we act.
Refusing to toss a piece of superfluous baggage containing previous negative reactions keeps us trapped acting out than desirable behavior. In other words, we get stuck on a self-deprecating spin cycle. Let’s face the truth. For instance, if we carry the heaviness of regret with us throughout our life, how less pleasurable life becomes knowing we don’t truly enjoy each moment, instead burdened by the weight of excess baggage.
Regret usually brings with it a satchel of guilt, possibly introducing a certain amount of stashed away fear, causing us to create a mountain of unrealistic expectations. Then, when our never-could-have-been-met expectations aren’t fulfilled…we feel empty inside. Surprised? Shouldn’t be. Unmet expectations have a way of leaving a void. No worries though, because we’ll just fill that void by stuffing our overflowing baggage with more of what caused us to repeat the entire scenario in the first place. Regret. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
But we’ll do it anyway. Squeezing regret into every nook and cranny of our overburdened baggage. Baggage that should have been tossed like last week’s leftovers. Wait! Toss our security blanket? The only cache of readily available ‘reactions’ we’ve known since…well, we can’t pinpoint exactly how long it’s been…but by the tattered remnants of our luggage, it’s been a lifetime already.
And so the cycle continues. Hunched over from the colossal weight we strain to pull a piece luggage along with us. Tugging on yet another to keep it from falling too far behind. Still pushing several more stacked awkwardly in an eclectic array of ‘saying yes when we’d rather say no,’ ‘obsessing over being obsessive,’ ‘needing to always be right,’ ‘procrastination,’ ‘taking everything personally’ or ‘focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong,’ to name a few easily recognized pieces.
Yes, at the risk of our own happiness, and fearing freedom from the heaviness of what’s become so familiar, we continue to drag these unproductive bits of baggage throughout our lives. Maybe, because we feel tossing it we wouldn’t know how to act. On the contrary, we’d gain much more from a present life moment when we aren’t experiencing it from a mountain of past dysfunctional baggage. Appreciating how amazing a positive response is compared to a negative reaction should be all the incentive we need to toss baggage. Once we’re brave enough to toss one piece of baggage, we simply repeat with another which isn’t adding value to our present life.
Toss and repeat means discovering new ways to lighten the burdens of yesterday thereby brightening today.