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Archive for the ‘baggage’ Category

Is Old Baggage Weighing You Down?

Baggage From Our Past Can Haunt Us For Years

https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced a lot of things which can and do weigh us down and hold us back—if we allow them to. We don’t always realize we’re hanging on to the old crap until we find ourselves triggered by past events and wallowing over something old, moldy, and no longer useful.

Sometimes we’re aware enough to recognize it ourselves. More often we rely on real friends who aren’t afraid to tell us as gently as possible it’s time to stop letting old news drag us down into the dumps where we wallow over things we can no longer change.

Think about it. It happened in the past, whether that past can be counted in months, years, or decades. Even if it happened yesterday, we can’t change it now. Maybe yesterday is too fresh to let go of, but what about the things we’ve carried around for decades? Sure, some of them might have been horribly traumatic, but is it really helping to hold on to how awful we felt at the time? How embarrassed, or humiliated, or devastated? Wouldn’t it be better to use that space for new and happier memories?

Past Traumas Can Drive an Empath Crazy

I’m learning it’s even more important as an Empath to let go of past traumas and depressing events. In some ways, holding on to our own pain makes us more sensitive to deep-seated trauma in other people. That’s a double-edged sword. Sure, we understand why they’re holding on, but frankly, it’s hard enough feeling recent pain from other people. Old, settled in pain is a world in and of itself. It’s a close cousin to ancestral pain which has grown deeper and darker with each generation. When we’ve held onto something for years, we tend to magnify it, making the cause and result larger and more unpleasant than the original event.

As a visual Empath, I not only feel the pain, but can often see and experience the original event which embedded the pain into a person’s psyche, whether the event happened in the current lifetime or a prior one. For a few moments, I’ll share an experience complete with the misery, helplessness, and frustration that went with it. Unpleasant, at best, but sometimes, painful enough to hurl me out of the experience before I get drawn down too far, especially when the traumatic event was an untimely death.

For example, while studying healing a few years ago, one of the class members had issues with her knee. As I worked with her, I was taken back to a time in her distant past where she was forced to carry a heavy load for a long distance while her husband walked alongside carrying a lesser load. At one point, she fell on the dirt road and landed on a rock, damaging her knee and causing a great deal of pain. Her husband showed no sympathy. Intead, he forced her to get back up without his help, and without dropping her load, and continue the long trek to market. The combination of both emotional and physical trauma followed her into future incarnations as she had yet to resolve it. The class worked together to help her release the pain and the experience. She said the knee felt better afterwards, though I don’t know if the entire issue was resolved that day. It’s likely it took her some time working through the rest of it on her own.

One thing I’ve learned is healers don’t actually provide the cure, whether they’re working with energetic, emotional, or physical dis-ease (and often, a combination of the three). They merely serve to facilitate the healing which we have within ourselves to exact.

Reaching Out For Help

Which brings me back to releasing baggage. There are times we need some outside assistance to recognize when we’re shlepping around an old suitcase full of pain, anger, and hurt that should have gone in the dumpster long ago. If you’re fortunate, or have learned to drop your walls enough to let people in, your circle of friends acts as an extra set of eyes, pointing out to you when you’ve let something drag you down long enough.

I spent the first few decades of this lifetime adding to the suitcase of negativity. In those years, I didn’t let anyone get close (least of all the man I married) and never asked for help. Not only had I been taught you don’t share what’s inside or ask for help, but the help my mother gave without asking, or what she offered always came with strings attached. As I got older, I became less inclined to accede to those conditions, and as a consequence, less likely to ask for help from anyone. Her example set in my mind that all help came with strings. We all know what a crock that is!

By the time I was 40 and, as an added bonus, was six months into dealing with my mother’s suicide, those traumas and baggage had become a lifeline; my only connection to sanity and solid ground. Little did I know my “solid ground” was as riddled with holes as a good Swiss cheese, and equally stable.

Turning Curses Into Blessings

What seems like a curse in one moment, can turn into a blessing in another. So it was with a lot of what I carried for years. The sensitivity and easiness with which I could be brought to tears was the bane of my existence for a long time. I learned to cover it with aggression, or simply retreat deep within myself until it passed. The latter earned me a reputation for being incredibly scary when I was angry enough to go silent, and caused many a strong man to give me a wide berth until it passed.

I won’t say I don’t retreat when especially angry these days, but in the first place, it happens rarely, and in the second, I’m not carrying around a lot of old garbage so minor events become the straw that broke the camel’s back. Learning to talk things out with my friends and get a different point of view has given me much better insight, and a lot more compassion towards people when they do something thoughtless or even mean.

Understanding Anger at its Source

I’ve learned to use my Empathy to take a step back and look beneath their surface for pain that has nothing to do with me. Quite often, I reach the conclusion rather quickly that what was said or done isn’t personal. It’s simply them lashing out at the first available opportunity because of their own pain; their own inner turmoil.

These days, when I see someone who acts like they’re angry with the world, I’m not as likely to dismiss them as a crabby person. I’m more likely to send them a ball of healing energy, neither knowing or caring whether they use it or not. That will always be their choice. I’ve learned to recognize the anger as an expression of pain, or, as it was in me, an inability to reach out in a healthier manner. Like I used to, they put up a big, prickly wall so people will leave them alone and not try to interfere or touch them while they’re vulnerable. I’d like to tell them allowing that vulnerability to show is their strength, but know it’s their journey. They’ll listen when they’re ready, just as I did.

We go through our own challenges so we’re more understanding of the challenges which face others, but also so we can make a difference, even if it’s only for one person. I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced the pain, the trauma, and the decades of loneliness. Those experiences enable me to understand what others are feeling, and, if nothing else, refrain from adding to their load of misery by treating them unkindly, or worse, ignoring them.

When you learn to let go of the old baggage, when you learn to allow others to help you, and when you accept your vulnerability as an asset instead of a liability, you become part of the solution. Think about it.

Finding Gratitude at Every Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for the challenges I’ve been given, the lessons I’ve learned, and the compassion I’ve gained in the process.
  2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent emerging from my personal chrysalis. The process may have been painful, but in hindsight, was worth every second.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who show me new roads, or widen my old ones. Many have no idea how much difference they’ve made in my life, and I don’t think I could show them my gratitude if I had another 3 lifetimes in which to do it.
  4. I am grateful for getting ahead. I lost some ground on my plan to be a month ahead on blog posts, but am quickly bridging the gap as ideas have filled my Morning Pages, and I’m quickly working my way through them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life lessons, challenges, inspiration, motivation, friendship, opportunities, new horizons, giant leaps and baby steps, love, insight, guidance, encouragement, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

November 26, 2014 Gratitude for Thanksgiving: So what if it’s cliche! #shericonaway

“Life’s a dance, you learn as you go, sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow.”

As I sat here thinking about today’s blog post and browsing my friends’ Facebook posts for inspiration, one in particular caught my eye. In a re-post of one of Ernest Holmes’ inspirational writings, I found exactly what I was looking for. Mr. Holmes likened gratitude to learning to play the piano, in which both repetition and visualization play a part in mastering the craft. It immediately struck me that it is also like learning a new line dance. First, I go through the steps with a teacher, then I run it mentally over and over, then put on the music and connect music and footwork together. The more complicated the dance, the more repetition and visualization are required, but ultimately, the whole dance is committed to my muscle memory and the first bar or so of the music kicks that memory back in, even if my brain doesn’t completely engage. Sure, I’m thrown off a bit if a different piece of music is used for the same dance, but even then, once I’ve been challenged a few times, muscle memory overrides what I’m hearing and I simply move to the music in the prescribed steps.

And so, too, it is with gratitude. At first, I had to make a concerted effort to remember to be grateful, especially in the face of adversity. But with time and practice, those offerings of thanks; for a ready parking spot, for green lights, for things working out in spite of all indications they wouldn’t, for time spent with my daughter, for the safety of my son-in-law, and for the drive, commitment and inspiration to write thousands and thousands of words; the gratitude now rises in me unbidden, but merely an extension of the woman I have become.

Keep practicing as, no matter how good it looks, it can always be better.

Just as an author continues to fine tune her work, a dancer practices over and over, doing her best to eliminate any margin for error, a singer commits every nuance of her piece to the deepest of her memories…I could go on and on as this applies to everything anyone might choose to master, but it is the same for gratitude. No matter how well you think you’ve mastered it, to cease practicing gratitude is as practical as ceasing to breathe.

What is Thanksgiving, but a reminder to be grateful all the time?

We’re coming up rapidly on the time of year when we’re reminded to practice the “Christmas Spirit”; the spirit of kindness and giving. But what about the “Thanksgiving Spirit”? Like the Christmas Spirit, it isn’t really about engaging in the behavior once a year, but to practice it always. If I had to sum it up, I’d have to say that the secret to a truly happy life is: Be grateful, be kind, be compassionate and be generous…every single hour of every single day of every single month of every single year.

The toughest challenge I’m facing right now is in keeping up my spirits though I have not yet, a year after taking my infamous leap of faith, started generating a steady income for myself. But each time I find my mind falling down that path, I have to stop and remind myself of the many blessings that are in my life. Every time I find my eyes wandering to a job listing for an accountant, I have to remind myself how incredibly free I am and how fortunate I am to be able to make my own hours (even though many of those have been in the wee ones of the morning lately), to be unfettered by someone else’s seemingly unreasonable demands in the name of control, and to be able to feed my inner introvert by only being around people when I want to. In the case of the latter, my introverted self can tolerate people a whole lot better when the pointlessness of office politics is removed from my experience. I have also come to understand from my far distant vantage point that there are those who truly thrive on the drama and the intrigue.

Gratitude’s closest pal is Forgiveness

I carried around a lot of anger and blame for a major part of my life. It didn’t make my life better; it simply carried me through like a tsunami across a peaceful shore. I generated storms where they weren’t even needed much of the time. But in the last few years of focusing on Gratitude, I also learned to Forgive; not only those I had saddled with the responsibility for my own anger and hurt, but also myself, for allowing all of the crap to filter into my life unchecked. I learned to Accept that the choices others make are their choices and have no real impact on me (and here’s the big catch) Unless I allowed it.

The real change, the real breakthrough, the real light in my world instead of just at the end of some imaginary tunnel came when I took responsibility for my own reactions; when I accepted everyone’s right to choose their own path; when I realized that my opinion of someone else’s choice was just as unimportant to them as their opinion of my choice was to me; and when I started looking at nearly 40 years of baggage and started going through it piece by piece, forgiving myself and anyone else who had been involved in packing that particular bag. Once a bag was unpacked, it’s contents disposed of or stored in my happy memory place, as applicable, I didn’t need the box or carton in which it had been stored any more, so I let it go.

Sure, the process of unpacking boxes and boxes of old memories is a long process, but it gets easier, the more boxes you unpack. Just like practicing gratitude or dance moves, unpacking takes practice too. After awhile, you can glance into a box and know whether there’s anything inside worth keeping and if so, go right to that place and toss the rest. Where it might have taken days, weeks or months to sift through the contents of one of those mental file boxes at first, it soon becomes a matter of minutes or even less to clear another box from the stack.

My daughter and I have made a ton of happy memories surrounding Thanksgiving, and even the years when it didn’t seem like we had much to be thankful for have now been boiled down until we can either laugh about a Thanksgiving that blew up in our faces, finding the shining moments in the midst of the gloom, or we can actually laugh about what seemed so traumatic at the time. I realized my own childhood, and even young adult memories of Thanksgiving with my own mother didn’t fare so well. I haven’t yet pulled out the sweet memories of the holiday with my birth family, and, for just a moment, this made me sad. But I realize it was merely a reminder that there are boxes I have yet to unpack, and that the time has not yet come to sift through them. I’m reminded of a song which always struck a chord in me, even when I was young and self-involved.

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

We are not meant to connect with our Divine selves in one giant step. We are meant to experience life, then go through the letting go process one baby step at a time. My baby steps are getting bigger, my emotional response to all of the disparity in the world has quieted. It isn’t silent, but I’m slower to react and hurl anger and misery at the angry and miserable. Though my opinions are not always respected or understood, my goal is to one day send nothing but love and compassion to victims and victimizers (do you know that there is no good antonym for victim? I wonder why that is?). We all had choices to make and made them as a result of lessons we decided to learn while we were here. I cannot even imagine the pain and self-loathing a murderer or abuser must feel. It might not be on a conscious level, but their soul, their spirit is certainly suffering, and not just for the time in which the act is inflicted, but more and more for each compassionless act.

Have I perfected my ability to avoid anger in every situation? Of course not! Will I do so in this lifetime? That, too, is unlikely. You, me and everyone, everywhere, is a work in progress. Most of us still have a long way to travel on our soul journey, but would we have it any other way? Would we truly want to reach the destination without experiencing the journey; its highs, its lows, its miracles and its tragedies? Not me, my friends. Definitely not me.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my journey.
2. I am grateful for everyone who has ever been a part of my life, and given me an opportunity to learn or practice a lesson.
3. I am grateful for the easy comfort of spending a week with my daughter and grandpuppy.
4. I am grateful for tasks which are getting done without rushing, without stress, and with a lot of love and laughter.
5. I am grateful for everyone who has, does or will read my scribblings. I write for me, but without an audience, my words would simply lay in the bottom of a dusty, musty drawer.
6. I am grateful for abundance: love, hope, compassion, lessons, forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, health, harmony, beauty, inspiration and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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