“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” ~ Charles Dudley Warner
June is a month of travel, holiday and vacation. However as the old saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you’re”. So this June why don’t you do something different and take an inner vacation from your emotional baggage. It’s not hard, just imagine you’re taking a trip and you want the airlines to lose your bags for the duration. Don’t worry, they have your name and address on them so they will be able to find you if you get into a panic, so with complete confidence why don’t you bid them adieu and head in a different direction.
Some of our heaviest burdens fall into three categories: regret, shame and worry. So whether you’re vacationing or staycationing this month here are some techniques for traveling lighter emotionally.
“I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” ~ Queen Latifah
“Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future.” ~ Sivananda
The most poisonous thing about regret is its ability to infect your right now by resurrecting past pain. This practice is about as damaging as driving down the road by only looking in your rear view mirror. Bad outcomes for you and everyone around you’re absolutely imminent.
So how do you leave your regret bag behind on your June journey?
Face Your Regret
Since regret lives in your past take a journey down memory lane. Really look at that job you passed on, that relationship that fell apart or that opportunity you missed. Write down the full details of why you feel what you did wasn’t the best choice. Detail all the “bad” fallout you feel is a result of your mistakes.
Understand Your Regret
Regret’s job, ironically enough, is to keep you happy. The reason certain instances stand out for you above the millions of decisions and actions we take is because of the discomfort encoded in them. So if we treat our regret on the surface then we only get the discomfort. But if we are willing to dive into the event and the emotions that wrap up our regret package then we can get the present inside. And here it the hidden gem – right past the pain, right on the horizon we look toward when we do the above exercise is the gift of happiness. And we find that happiness in our next step.
Fix Your Regret
You fix your regret by first forgiving yourself. You made decisions based on information and emotions that were present at the time. In short, we all do the best we can with what we have to work with at any given moment.
Now go back to your above timeline and redraw all the good things that happened because of the path you did take. The people you met, the experiences you had, the lessons you learned and the wisdom it has given you to help others along the way.
And thirdly, use it as a guide for future decisions. When you’re faced with a decision you’re emotionally angsting over, remember to pause, breath and slow down the process so you can ask yourself, “From a wider perspective is this decision I’m about to make feel right to me?” Even it ends up as a decision that’s not perfect in the long-run you will know that you did your best and it will become easier and easier to let go of your past pain so your right now has room for joy.
“Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.” ~ George Soros
“I used to look in the mirror and feel shame, I look in the mirror now and I absolutely love myself.” ~ Drew Barrymore
Shame is so powerful because it can color everything – even things not remotely associated with the event you wince about when you recall it. That’s because shame is about you – it’s the thought that “I’m bad” rather than “I did a bad thing or made a bad choice”. Dr. Brene Brown describes shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of connection and belonging.”
So how do you send your shame bag packing?
Face Your Shame
Shame’s power lies in secrets. We run from this emotion because it comes wrapped in intense fear so our flight/fight/freeze trigger gets pulled every time we bump up against shame. That’s why it is so important to notice when you experience shame and what your reactions are to it. Witnessing your actions instead of being embroiled in them is your first step toward releasing your grip on this bag of shame.
Understand your Shame
Shame’s job, ironically enough, is to allow us to connect with others more deeply. But this cannot happen while you’re burdened with such heavy baggage. But once you’re able to let go of your shame a rush of compassion and empathy floods in to take up the previously occupied space. You can know this is true because the gifts of “negative” emotions are always the opposite of our initial reactions and notions of them. So with shame your initial reaction is to withdraw so it follows that the gift is deep connection.
Fix Your Shame
Shame must be shared to be released. I know how scary that sounds but it can be one of the most freeing exercises you ever undertake. The most important thing is to choose your share partner wisely. Pick a friend or relative that you feel you can share with without fear of judgment. If you feel more comfortable then go to a professional therapist or life coach to act as your share partner where you will have a safe space to open up without hesitancy.
Once your shame is spoken you’re on a new path headed away from this baggage. You’re able to release yourself from the idea that you’re alone in your pain and humiliation. You open to the possibility that your experiences are universal so you can be more empathetic to others and more loving to yourself.
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~ Leo Buscaglia
“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” ~ Dale Carnegie
Worry is all about the future. Like regret brings past pain into your present moment, worry pulls in future pain. When you abandon the right now by jumping into an imaginary psychological future you disempower yourself and worry takes hold because you feel vulnerable and powerless.
So how to do you shrug off your backpack full of worries?
Face Your Worry
Worry is a facet of fear – fear that things won’t work out the way you want, fear that you will experience some sort of pain or fear that you will lose out somehow. So to face your worry is to notice when you spin out into your future mind. In that future space doing takes precedence over being because you feel you can control more through your actions. You believe you can make good things happen and keep bad things at bay. As Eckhart Tolle, author of the best-selling books The Power of Now and A New Earth, says, “Stressful energy arises when you think some future moment is more important than the present moment.”
Understand Your Worry
Worry’s job is to bring you back to the present moment. It is like those new alarms that cars have that beep when you begin drifting off the road. It is signaling you that you have drifted away from the now and have created stress out of thin air. The future doesn’t actually exist – we live in a perpetual now, so when we continually disassociate from our now by focusing on how things should be we drain our energy, joy and ability to grow.
Fix Your Worry
You fix your worry by coming home to your present. Whenever your worry alarms go off stop and ask yourself, “Am I OK right here, right now?” Most of the time the answer will be a resounding YES! Because in your now you’re fully in your power. You feel able to make choices, get support and to focus on what’s going well in your life.
You can also fix worry by accepting the fact that life is a complex path of hills and valleys. If we didn’t have the contrast of positive and negative or sweet and sour our lives would be flat and drab.
So this month take a vacation without your inner baggage by changing your perspective instead of your location. Focus on leaving one of these bags behind for the month and see how much lighter you feel. Or maybe rotate each week which one you leave behind and see what changes for you.
The most important thing is to open up room for more fun this June. Create space for joy to come by and visit for a while. And remember, there’s no extra points for doing it all by yourself. Reach out and get support because you really only have four choices; getting it done easily, getting it done, doing it the hard way or not doing it at all. This month my wish for you is that you feel constantly on vacation and all things come to you with ease.