The biggest challenge with wanting to be successful and accomplishing goals is the drama that holds us back. Your emotional baggage is is the key to what’s blocking you from moving forward.
For example, have you ever noticed your posture when you’re sad, depressed, or embroiled in a problem?
You’re probably hunched over. Does your back hurt? When you walk, are your eyes and head tilted down, literally avoiding seeing what’s ahead of you?
Louise Hay, the author of, You Can Heal Your Life, suggests that a sore back indicates the weight of emotional burden, and holding onto things you need to let go of.
“Back pain can be related to many emotions in your life. Lower back pain may reflect your fear of money or lack of financial support. A pain in your middle back may be connected to your guilt. Do you wish some people would get off your back? Do you feel stuck in all that stuff back there? Upper back pain could be related to you holding back love or feeling unloved. Do you feel a lack of emotional support?” [Life Supports You]
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Too often we drag our shit behind us like a burden of pride.
Some people make a grandiose affair of it. They want their baggage to get noticed. They buy the most expensive Louis Vuitton and parade their problems for everyone to see and make comment.
The problem is that what looks pretty on the outside is hiding a mess on the inside.
I like to use the distinction between luggage and baggage. If you travel a lot you should invest in quality luggage. It just makes sense. It makes traveling easier as you move from place to place to experience new adventures. Nothing worse than having your luggage fall apart in the middle of the airport or on the luggage carousel — everything laid bare for all to see!
Divest yourself of emotional baggage.
That is easier said than done. For many years I held onto my past. I thought about people who made me feel bad and unworthy. I reacted to how heteronormative culture boxed me in and made me feel shame for being a gay man. I felt like a loser graduating high school with a 51% average. My past was my identity and I was stuck in the drama of that tired old story.
When you don’t clean out your closets, you become a hoarder. The same holds true for emotional baggage. The longer you hold onto it, the more difficult it becomes to let it go. At some point I was dragging around so much shit even I didn’t want to be around myself.
There were a few key moments in my life when I looked at my baggage and said, “Enough!” I did the work to learn how to let it go. One successful step forward was getting into university and falling in love with German language. I held an A- average and was on the Dean’s list every year. That allowed me to let go of not feeling smart enough.
In my early 30s I discovered personal development. I read and listened to all the greats in the field. On a weekend program I had a transformational breakthrough that changed my life. It was the simple awareness that I am 100% responsible for my feelings and actions. It was a proverbial light-bulb-turning-on moment and I never looked back.
What actions can you take to let go of what’s holding you back?
How would it feel to move forward with ease, to live out the best of who you are, to explore what you’ve hidden away in the closet, and to finally get what you want?
There are many ways to deal with your past.
Journaling on a regular basis is a free tool for self-awareness and personal growth. Working with a therapist or support group is helpful when you feel you can’t do this work alone. A coach will help you focus on the present and the future, mindful to keep you moving forward, not hindered by the burdens of the past.
Coaching is different than therapy. As a coach I help you focus on daily practices and habits, instead of trying to solve past challenges. It’s what we do with consistency and frequency that amounts to improvement and accomplishment over time. From my experience working with therapists and coaches, I find coaching to be a more effective and pro-active tool for creating personal change.
How does coaching help you create change?
The core idea with coaching is not to ignore the challenges of your past. Part of the work may involve helping you out of the mindless habit of focusing on what was, and what you cannot change. Your focus instead becomes, “What can I do now?”.
There is only one place you can ever be.
Too much focus on the past will keep you stuck, because you’re always looking behind you. Too much focus on the future and you will start to worry about how you’re going to accomplish your goals.
You can only ever he here and now, in the present moment. When you focus on what you can do in this moment, you have a better chance of feeling successful and accomplishing your goals and desires.
Having a plan — a list of what to practice and do in your day, as well as a longer term progress plan (a few months), and written goals and dreams for the next three to ten years — will help guide you in choosing what you need to do in this moment.
You can’t do everything at once.
You can’t solve all your problems from the past in an instant.
What you can do is one thing at a time.
When you shift your focus from the past,
from what’s holding you back…
what you didn’t do…
what didn’t work…
to what you can do now…
that choice, that single shift in focus, will completely alter the direction of your life for the better.
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