This post is in response to Your Life's Baggage Part 1: What are you carrying? by Claudia Black

In Part 1, you got to identify what the exterior of your bags look like and how that is a metaphor for what life has been like for you. Now go inside your bags and take a look at the beliefs, feelings, and skills you may be carrying. These are beliefs about yourself, others and the world, and feelings you've experienced and have held onto either because you value them or because it wasn't safe to express them. Lastly, you can identify skills you've developed that help you to live with others and to achieve your goals.

Cognitive Baggage
Let's look at the bags that carry your beliefs about you and the world.
Are you carrying beliefs that say:

  • I am strong, capable.
  • I can ask for help if I need it.
  • People are trustworthy.
  • I am trustworthy.
  • It is okay to take risks.
  • I deserve respect
  • I deserve to be happy
  • The world has many wonderful things to offer.

Or are you carrying beliefs that say:

  • I can't trust other people - they will take advantage of me.
  • No one will listen to me.
  • Take what I need.
  • The world is scary.
  • It's not okay to make a mistake, something bad will happen.
  • Good things only happen to others.
  • I don't expect much from me.
  • I'm inadequate, insufficient. I can't do anything right.
  • I need someone to take care of me.
  • If I show people who I am, they won't like me.
  • The world owes me, I am entitled.

In addition to any of those you identified from above, what other beliefs might you be carrying?

Emotional Baggage
What are the feelings you carry with you?
Do you carry memories of laughter, happy times, feelings of pride?
Do you feel loved? Loving?
Do you have so much fear in your life that you have one whole bag designated just for fear?
How much anger, or how many resentments are you carrying?
Do you have a bag of loneliness?
How large is your bag of hopelessness, disappointments, sadness, or guilt?
Are there other feelings you are carrying?

And a very important question to ask yourself is, ‘do you find yourself carrying other people's bags as well?' Are you carrying your mother or father's fears, their guilt, their shame? Do you take on your daughter or son's disappointments or angers?

What often goes unrecognized is that in your luggage, you are carrying a tool bag, a bag of skills. Some people have a large bag of tools filled with variety and abilities, while others may have but one tool, or different versions of the same tool, and are limited in skills.

Do you have a variety of tools or a limited number and type of skills?
Identify the tools you are carrying:

  • ability to ask for what you need
  • ability to listen
  • problem solving skills
  • ability to see choices available
  • negotiation skills
  • healthy expression of feelings
  • ability to set limits
  • clarity around what is important
  • ability to make decisions
  • self care skills, eating adequately, basic hygiene skills, appropriate clothing, proper rest, exercise

In addition to those you identified from above, what are other tools you have in your bags?

As you review the beliefs, feelings and tools you carry, think about what you want to continue to carry with you, what you want to let go of, and what you want to add to your baggage.

Part 3 will look at how carrying painful feelings, negative beliefs and few tools, or just one kind of tool, you often end up needing a cart for your bags.

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