“How many bags did you pick up this morning?” asks Max Lucado in his book, “Traveling Light.”
He's not talking about leather baggage found on an airport carousel, but the baggage in our minds — guilt, discontent, anxiety, perhaps “a hanging bag of grief, a briefcase of perfectionism, an overnight bag of loneliness and a duffel bag of fear.”
This is the baggage that weighs you down and diminishes your quality of life. This is the baggage that takes up so much space in your heart and your head that you have no room for anything new.
This is the baggage that often comes from the family that raised you — or other past relationships. It is good to stop, open those bags and set about to make your burden lighter.
For some, the work is not complete until the bag is empty and stored away. For others, it is done bit by bit and takes more time. Some put them in a closet to go through when they are ready. Others toss them right into the trash can.
You do it not only for yourself, but because you will be teaching your children how to have healthy adult relationships.
Carrying around unneeded baggage is like having an unfiltered voice in your head that creates anxiety where there is no need, frustration that makes you less adept at your work and drama that will interfere with every relationship you have — spouse, parent, child, friend or co-worker.
Dumping that baggage is the work of support groups and sometimes best friends, social workers and the medical community, mental health professionals and priests — all there to help lighten your load.
Lightening your load makes everything better. You will become more present to the people you love, more aware of the good in your days, rediscover happiness and lead a more balanced life.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.