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May 3, 2021

Hey Christina, How do you know that you’ve fully cleaned out your previous emotional baggage so you can move forward with an open heart?

– Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Dear Once Bitten, Twice Shy,

I think it’s safe to say that we have never fully cleaned out the remnants from our previous relationships; there are layers upon layers. But, there’s good news! Especially if you are willing to peek inside to take a look at what you’ve packed. It is my experience, and have seen with many clients, that the more you look within, the lighter the topics become and the quicker the bounce back!

There are so many perspectives that we can look at here, but let’s talk perspective. That “baggage” is all yours, so why not love it? Why not see it for what it is? Accept that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Laugh when it bubbles up, talk to someone when you can’t, and simply love it. It is yours, just like your perspective.

I can’t help but feel that when we refer to our relationship history as “baggage” we are setting a tone. It is my unshakable belief that our perspective is our choice. Now, don’t get me wrong… there is this thing called a core fracture wound that is undeniably the unfinished business that we bring into a relationship. There’s more on the good old core fracture wound here, but that aside, this thing called perspective is a powerful asset that we have complete control over.

When it comes to letting go of previous hurts, aka “baggage”, I have learned that it is all about forgiveness. There is space and a need to forgive the person, but more importantly there is a need to forgive ourselves. If we can’t forgive ourselves, it will be darn near impossible to truly forgive others. If we can’t forgive others, we may find ourselves sitting in anger. From what I’ve seen, this forgiveness tends to stem from the need to forgive ourselves for not seeing the relationship for what it truly was. I often hear from clients; men and women alike, “Why the hell did I stay for so long?” or “Why did I accept this for so long?” or “How did I not see what I was doing?” There is a layer of guilt and even shame that resides here and this truly needs to be set free. If you are holding yourself in contempt, this is sure to show up towards your partner in your relationship. This line of questioning around, “Why did I accept or stay for so long?” is something I hear from almost every client. Self-compassion is foreign to us, as many of us have been raised to believe that it is best to put others’ happiness ahead of our own… to stick it out, to accept and persevere.

In regards to baggage, I’d say there’s one super power that you can try on. When you get poked/triggered/activated/annoyed in your relationship, I encourage you to spin it back to self. We so often go to a place and focus on how we were wronged, when it should be about how we could have showed up better for self. Take this one step further and look at what it was that triggered you. Take a breath and hear the story that you weave around it… and then ask yourself, “Is this true?” A great way to execute this is to capture the following four things:

  1. The incident – Pick a moment that poked you and capture the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” kind of details.
  2. The head – This is what you think about the moment. This is often the loud voice that speaks up for you and yearns to protect, defend and support you.
  3. The heart – This is what you feel about the moment. This is where the unlovable, “I am not worthy” has a tendency to live.
  4. The body – This is what you physically felt in your body when the moment happened.

While each of these areas are helpful to get a handle on, the head is what you really want to tap into. The story that lives here is so often untrue and this story is behind what is holding you ransom. As you write, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Ask this until you crack it, because our stories have long legs and add more and more content to the “baggage”.

Have a question for Christina?

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