As I place my worn suitcase on the scale at the airline ticket counter, I’m met with a very friendly airport official.
“How many bags are you checking in today?” He asked in a chipper tone.
Looking at the one bag I had placed on the scale, I smirked and said, “One?”
He continued, “Did you pack your bag yourself?”
“Yes, I did. The maid had the day off.” I joked.
I mean really, who else would pack my bags? I thought to myself. Was he trying to be funny? Did he think I can’t pack my own bag?
He didn’t seem amused at my maid joke and, like rapid fire, he rattled off a series of questions without taking a breath.
“Did you pack any Electronic Lighters, E-Lighters, e-cigarettes?”
“Did you pack any fireworks, firearms, or flares in your suitcase?”
“Do you have any lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, or a laptop?”
“Have you packed anywhere on you or in your suitcase a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cellular phone, a hoverboard including series T1, T3, or T8, a mini Segway with lithium batteries, or any alcohol over 140 proof?”
“Are you traveling with any poisons, radioactive materials such as uranium, thorium, and radon?”
“How about a snow globe bigger than a tennis ball?” Finally, he stopped with the questions and took a breath.
What the hell? I thought to myself. Could he have said that any faster? Did I pack my laptop? No, it’s right here in my tote bag, I’ve got a deadline, I was going to work on the plane. Geez, Buddy, way to stress me out there. Hey, wait? What was that last thing? A snow globe? WTF?
I looked directly into his eyes and answered, “Um, no.” My tone now frustrated.
“Oh and never mind about the snow globe, that question is mainly just for carry-on bags. You can check it here with me if you don’t mind it breaking.” He shrugged.
“No. No snow globe today.” I mirrored his abrupt attitude.
“Fine,” he continued. “Has anyone asked you to transport anything for them?”
Who the heck would ask me to transport anything? What are you implying? I’m not stupid, ya know. I know what you’re trying to do here. I’m not going to fall for that nonsense. You’re not going to trap me into getting pulled from the line. Don’t you know how busy I am?
Wait a minute here…
My racing thoughts slowed for a moment.
Those thoughts don’t sound like me? What just happened there? Why did I get so defensive so quickly? All those aggravated thoughts that just ran wild through in my head sounded like my old insecure, untrusting, and defensive self whose voice got very loud in my head, screaming its ugly past beliefs at a perfect stranger. Wow, slow your roll there lady.
Thankful the thoughts were just in my head and not vocal, I shook the negative thoughts out of my head, took a deep breath, and I replied calmly and with a big smile, “No, sir.”
As you can guess by now, that particular conversation never really happened. But there have been slight variations of that scene over the course of my lifetime. A seemingly innocent question such as to what I can and can’t bring on a plane triggered a negative emotional response because it touched a nerve to something deeper that I hadn’t resolved.
What uncalled and unfriendly thoughts go through your head unnecessarily? Ever ask who put them there? Who in your past has created that reactional behavior? Who packed your belief system? What bottled up anger, defensiveness, and unresolved feelings do you travel with you everywhere you go? How and from whom did you learn that behavior?
Baggage is a great metaphor for the emotional and psychological beliefs that we all carry around in our head, in our thoughts, and in our feelings that are triggered by a situation we haven’t quite resolved.
Any of these thoughts, feelings, or beliefs ever cross your mind?
• I don’t trust people, they will only let me down, take advantage of me, or have an ulterior motive.
• I’m not good enough. I can’t do anything right. Why even try? I’m such a loser.
• I can’t decide. What if I’m wrong? I couldn’t handle that.
• What do other people think of me? Their opinion matters more than mine. I need their approval.
• Good things always happen to other people, it’s really not my fault, I don’t have what they have. Why try?
• I try to convince everyone how important and smart I am because I don’t believe I’m important or smart.
• If I control everything I possibly can, maybe nothing will go wrong.
• I don’t expect much from people, they always let me down.
• I build a wall for protection because if they knew the real me, they wouldn’t like it and they might leave.
• I’m defensive only because I want to get ahead of the pain and discomfort at hand, I’ve been there before won’t let that happen again.
• You owe me respect because I don’t respect myself enough to know my own self-worth.
Are you carrying a bag full of defense? A suitcase full of fear and anger? Luggage loaded with shame and abandonment? When you come across something that gets you worked up, ask yourself, whose baggage is that? Where did I pick that up? Is it what I saw growing up and never questioned it and now behave the same way? Could it be reactive to something deeper I never addressed? Why do I respond so emotionally to a seemingly innocent situation?
Maybe you’re still trying to prove something to an overbearing father who instilled fear and shame if you didn’t measure up to a high standard? Or you’re angry because an overprotective mother did everything for you and now you feel inadequate to handle the world you live in? Maybe you built that tough wall around yourself because you have been abandoned by people you depended on? Maybe you’re so untrusting of people from being blindsided by an unfaithful lover? Are those the people you’re still fighting in your head with while the poor person in front of you gets the belief system baggage that you didn’t pack.
I’m asking you to just question it. Decide what beliefs work well and which ones were ‘gifted’ and packed for you.
What has always amazed me was how two people can be at the same party, or have the same background, yet one person can be completely miserable in the present, blaming everything and everyone for their past and for their misery, while the other person can truly find the joy wherever they are, acknowledging and thanking their past, even their pain, as a life lesson for the incredible journey gifted to them.
Believe me, I’ve worked on countless issues, and by countless, I mean that I’ve worked on so many issues that I’ve lost completely count. Some huge life-changing issues, and some smaller ones like a thorn I just can’t get rid of and it keeps tugging at me for resolve every time it’s provoked. I used to let other people pack their issues and insecurities in my head. They remained there until I was well over the weight limit of baggage. That kind of unpacking doesn’t happen overnight. It took me years of sorting out where those beliefs came from and deciding if they benefited me or not. The ones that didn’t benefit me are gone, the ones I kept add great value to my life.
The powerful beliefs I carry now go something like this:
- I am strong, smart, and compassionate.
- I am trustworthy and I do choose to trust the world at large.
- I believe people are inherently good, doing the best they can with what they have.
- I do believe the world doesn’t owe me anything but I owe the world the best of my ability, always.
- I do know my worth and I don’t have to prove that to anyone. I decide my value.
I’ve unpacked tons of unnecessary baggage from my belief system. Fear and control being the biggest weight to unload. I no longer allow myself to lug that weight around in my head or in my heart. I know from experience how that unresolved weight can swing with such tremendous force in a direction you never intended it to go.
Here’s a thought, next time you find yourself angerly blurting something out in a heated moment and in the next moment knowing you were wrong and need to apologize, ask yourself why that thought, that emotion, that action was even there in the first place? Why did it get so out of control so fast? Decide if it’s a thought or a feeling that benefits you. When you address that, you’ll be amazed at how much lighter your baggage will get.
So if you have unwanted weight in your bags then unpack and lighten your load. Let go of what weighs you down. Start to question some of those thoughts that run randomly through your head. Take them one at a time and leave each and every one of them that hold you down right there on the concrete runway and you go take off, at full speed, leaving them far, far, so very far behind.
Travel light my friends, enjoy life’s fabulous adventure and embrace the wonderful, beautiful, and amazing you.
And next time when someone asks you if you packed your own bags, you can happily, confidently, and most self-assuredly say, “I was all me!”