This old suitcase? Why your old baggage matters more than you realize…

As I begin decluttering my house in preparation for selling it and moving to Oregon, I’m struck by how many things I’ve hung onto over the years for reasons I can’t even remember. The things themselves are tied to memories, dreams, and old priorities.

They’re also tied to “issues” I used to have and some I’m still actively working on.

Back when Carol and I (and David, my ex) didn’t get along, it used to be so easy to point to their ACTIONS and say this was the reason for me being so hurt, upset or angry. I’d provide all the gory details so my sympathetic listener could see how ANYONE in their right mind would be equally offended.

But privately, I also knew that there was something else at play, in the background.

And that was the amorphous ball of “stuff” we all recognize in our quieter moments. Baggage. Old wounds. Sore spots. Irrational patterns of reactions. That vague, embarrassing jumble we wincingly see before we fall asleep at night, while eating a bowl of cereal alone in the morning; maybe during the mindless hum and rhythm of exercise.


That old shit.

The stuff I have no idea how to fix!

The stuff that makes me extra sensitive, insecure, fearful or feel like crap about myself. It’s as familiar as the back of your hand. But you’d be loathe to ever admit its existence, except with your closest friends (and even then…).

So much more convenient to just keep pointing the finger elsewhere.

But the truth is, when the other person’s behavior continually sends you into overdrive, you have lost control of yourself. That means, there’s a good chance something old has been triggered.

Blame the wrong thing and your problems will remain an enigmatic and seemingly impossible source of frustration.

Handle it and watch problems with the other household fade away into something manageable or maybe, just maybe, even something… good.

So, how big is YOUR suitcase? What are you dragging around? Are you willing to try and let go of some of its contents?

Some great places to start:


© 2011 Jennifer Newcomb Marine    All Rights Reserved

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  1. I love this! It’s so true. If you’re finding yourself triggered over and over again, take a deeper look at yourself, discover where it’s stemming from. Once you’re able to pinpoint it, you’ve exposed it, brought it out into the light and it will have less of an effect on you. You’ll find yourself being triggered less and your actions will reflect that.

  2. Exactly! And one thing I’ve realized is that it actually IS possible to deal with and resolve some of those age-old issues from long ago. You don’t have to be in therapy for years and years. You’re not just doomed to live with it, unless you can afford to duplicate an “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. It doesn’t have to be this big, scary dragon that lives in the closet.There are some amazing resources out there right now that can really make a huge difference.

    And once you resolve some of that old crap, there are always new problems to tackle — but that’s okay, because at least you’re moving forward! 🙂

  3. I like to say it’s not what your baggage is, it’s how well you pack it. Mine used to be in a big ugly gym bag. I’ve repacked it into a gorgeous red carry on. My goal is for me to understand and process it to where it fits in a classy Coach purse.

  4. Ha, love the analogy, Staci! And yes, that’s my goal too. 🙂

  5. Jessica Lunetta says:

    I think Alanis Morressette wrote a song about. “You Learn.” And she was in her early 20s. Smart girl. Smart article.

  6. I love Staci’s analogy!

    I would say not only do we have old wounds and baggage we don’t like to think about or acknowledge, but we may often also actually contribute to conflicts with the “other” while minimizing or excusing our behavior while vilifying theirs.

  7. well said, Jennifer and that goes for physical clutter as well.

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