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Chapter 6. Balance and Emotional Baggage... > Ready to Move On? - Pg. 43

Balance and Emotional Baggage: What's Keeping You Down? 43 Unfortunately, even if you take some baby steps toward unloading old "stuff," it's a constantly evolv- ing process. You may feel like you have forgiven Monster Boss today, but three weeks from now you may find that the resentment has landed right in the pit of your stomach again. That's okay. But constantly evolving or not, you can't run from heavy baggage. It will find you--even in the middle of the night, waking you up and causing insomnia or restless sleep. Another problem is very often we have baggage related to people we can't just excise out of our lives--like ex-spouses we have to interact with because of our children, parents, siblings, coworkers, even our own kids. Using our principle of small measurable steps, you can reduce your baggage in baby steps by: 1. Making conscious decisions to reduce stress related to this person. For instance, visit Mom and Dad in Peoria for that four-day weekend, but opt to stay in a hotel so you have your own space and a place to decompress every night. Learning some positive stress-busters like meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and yoga. Seeking support groups if you have issues related to family alcoholism or abuse. Not indulging your mother-in-law or stepbrother or father by reacting each time they press your proverbial buttons. If you are feeling particularly vulnerable, screen your calls until you are in a better place to handle the usual conflicts. If you work for a bully, at least polish your resume or take empowering steps in your career. 2. 3. 4. 5. Chances are you already know some baby steps you can take to reduce emotional baggage in your life. The F-Word: Forgiveness Probably the most controversial aspect of letting go of emotional baggage is the issue of forgiveness. Pick up any one of a hundred self-help books out there, and they will say forgiveness is essential for moving on and you must do it for you. This is often sound advice, but we also know people who have survived "the unforgivable." What is the unforgivable? Rape, murder, incest, vicious acts of betrayal . . . the heavy hitters of emotional baggage. We know people so badly abused they still sleep with the lights on. So must they forgive these heinous sins? Frankly, we think not. We advocate (a) looking at the pain, not hiding from it and (b) moving on, but not necessarily forgiving. We can all parrot the "forgiveness" is the "right" thing to do party line. But why? If someone murdered one of our loved ones, we would have to find a way to deal with that. (See Chapter 11 for more on this topic.) Whether it is a philosophy of "bad things happen to good people" or a philosophy of existentialism, we all need to make sense of the most senseless of acts. September 11, for instance, calls upon every person touched by that tragedy to make some sort of peace with what they lost. Forgiveness may be a part of that. But if you can't get to the "F word," settle instead for finding a way to have peace by processing the pain until it's no longer so visceral. Ready to Move On? Now it's time to balance your world with clear ideas of your goals in the emotional baggage arena. Write down your top five goals toward letting go of old pain. 1 ___________________________________________________ 2 ___________________________________________________ 3 ___________________________________________________ 4 ___________________________________________________ 5 ___________________________________________________