In the next few weeks I will be including excerpts from my book in progress. I would appreciate any thoughts or comments on how these posts affect you. Here is the first excerpt – from the chapter “Believe In Yourself.”

Put Down the Baggage and No One Gets Hurt

Let’s face it; we all have emotional baggage to some degree. You haven’t gotten this far in life without some kind of hurt. Eventually, as we travel along the path of life we will get hit by something big…early in life, late in life, often repeatedly along the way. It will knock us to the ground, hurt us beyond all possible measure, and we will sit and cry, get up and fight, or crawl away wounded and in shock.

It could be anything, being molested, having a partner leave you, losing a loved one, getting hurt in a car crash, or losing a job you loved. The unifying factor is this, it gives you a load of baggage to deal with, and it takes a while to get over. How long of a while? Some people never get over it while others just get up, shake themselves off and manage to continue on with their lives.

I’ve got baggage too. Sad and pitiful details aside, it is enough to say that my baggage is often there, sitting at my feet, just waiting for me to trip over it.

But that’s just it. Our mental baggage is quiet; it’s kind of sneaky like that. You can have it and no one ever really notices, unless you direct their attention to it and say, “Look, I’ve got baggage.” With the exception of airports, people don’t usually come up to you and ask, “Do you have baggage?”

My point is that nearly every one of us has it, to some degree or another. We have it; it’s there, waiting patiently by our sides, silent and calm. It doesn’t really need attention; you don’t have to feed it or water it, or pet it or put it to bed. And if you are really lucky, you can step onto a plane and fly away and leave it behind, because we sure would be a lot lighter without it.

The most annoying thing about baggage is the person who it is attached to, the one who has it in hand and wants to share it with the world. The person who comes into a room, opens up her baggage and displays it for all to see. “See my baggage? See. See!” she parades it in front of you, forcing you to look. Then walks in again, and again, and AGAIN to the same room and same people and continues to say, “See my baggage? I have baggage. See it, see it? Come, look at my baggage!”

So you have baggage. Great. Good for you. Join the crowd. Everyone reading this, raise your hand if you’ve had at least one lousy thing happen to you in your life and now look around. Yup, everyone’s got their hands up and, look, everyone here has baggage sitting at their feet.

So now…decide.

“Decide what?” you might ask.

Decide to put the baggage down. Move past it.

It took me a long time to realize that moving past my pain wasn’t a betrayal. Instead, it was a cold, hard fact of life. I had to move past it in order to overcome my slavery to it. I had to continue with my life, not live in the past. I had to make new and better memories, despite my conflicting wishes to either curl up and die or slay my enemies.

Moving past your baggage doesn’t necessarily mean that you will ever get rid of it. Moving on is sort of like taking the stairs up while our baggage takes the elevator down.

So if you’ve got baggage, and you probably do…make a decision. If you decide to hug your baggage close and you aren’t ready to let it go…that’s fine. But be aware of it; realize that you are bound to it, manacled if you will, as long as you hold it so close. As long as your arms are full of emotional baggage, nothing else can enter them. Not love, not hope, not better memories. Allow yourself to believe that there will be a time when you can set it down on the floor again. And when that day comes, I hope you will set it down, and walk away, or maybe even run at full-tilt and get on that airplane and fly away, baggage-free.

I hope you choose to let it go. Not because it isn’t important, or irrelevant, or too painful – not for any of those reasons. Let the emotional baggage go because it has enslaved you. And enslavement cannot help us, it can only hurt. I’m not suggesting you forget, or that you never speak of your hurts, that would be counter-productive. But take your experiences and realize that, no matter how awful, they occurred in the past. Your job now is to live, to grow, to mature, and to enjoy your life. And you can’t do that with arms so full of baggage. So…set it down for a while…okay?