1. Unload Your Baggage. . .All Of It.
I’m putting this on the main page because it is the most important tip; it’s also the hardest. The word “baggage” as it refers to relationships is so overused and has such ugly connotations that it’s easy to ignore it. Let’s tell the truth: every single one of us has experienced the pain of being heart broken, let down, lied to or hurt (physically or emotionally) by someone close to us. It’s not bad, it’s just a part of being a human. What we seldom acknowledge is the impact it has on our self, our view of the world and others and how we treat people. Because being in a relationship involves letting someone be close to us, specific things that the other person says or does can trigger that pain without notice. In an instant, using your emotional reflexes you react as though that person was the same person from your past who caused the pain in the first place. Once the dust settles, you may or may not realize the source of what hurts you; the trouble is that you haven’t let it go.
Upon failure of a relationship, I hear so many people, not just women, say, “I have trust issues.” Really? It’s great that you know that. Now, deal with it. Another one I hear quite a bit is, “I have issues with my mother/father.” Fantastic. Don’t we all? Resolve the issues. Get help. See a counselor. Take the Landmark Forum. Do something about your issues so that you can stop hurting others and inviting people into your life who will hurt you. We’re adults and can now choose who we spend our time with and who we don’t. Nobody has time for an unhealthy relationship or repeating dating patterns. Remember, efficiency.
When starting a relationship of any kind, our partner never says, “I can’t wait for you to hurt me.” Yet, when we hang on to our baggage, our hurt is what we bring to the table. In essence, we perpetuate our pain. We do this through fight-or-flight responses born out of deep insecurity caused by pain from our past. Some examples are lashing out, withdrawing, breaking up, lying, withholding true emotion or being passive-aggressive, to name a few. Since we’ve been on the receiving end of these behaviors at some point or another, we know how hurtful they are to the other person. Often they’re left scratching their head asking, “What did I do?” or, “What just happened here?” It’s not who we really are at all. Imagine what life would be like if you could be the person you really are instead of a series of pain-inspired responses? Dealing with the pain from our past breaks this painful cycle. The bottom line: if you have baggage you have no business pursuing a relationship.
It sounds ugly, I know. Hurting others is ugly too. Hope is in the healing, though. When we give ourselves the opportunity to heal, we let go of our baggage. We do end up having the experience of being lighter. It’s easier to smile, spread joy and tell the truth in love. It’s easier to love and be loved.