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By the time we’ve reached our middle years, we’ve had lots of life experiences, and, unless we’ve made a conscious effort release it, we’ve also accumulated a fair amount of baggage. Well, friends, it’s time to release the baggage.
As I move forward toward crafting my next chapter, I definitely want to start with a clean slate. I’ve been clearing, cleaning and releasing for years it seems; I tend to let things build up, perhaps. In any event, I know that if I don’t work through and clear out my baggage, there is a pretty good chance I will self-sabotage, or burn out before I see my vision through. I’ve done it before, and unless I make changes, I know I’ll do it again.
So today, we are going to tackle some of this baggage and see if we can clear it out.
Many years ago now, I read a book by Naomi Judd. In it she suggested taking a life inventory, going back and looking at the good, bad and ugly. This can be really scary for some people, but looking back is not really a problem for me, so I did the exercise. I went back as far as I could remember, and thought about my successes, failures, joys and hurts. I found a few interesting things.
- I wasn’t actually anywhere near as bad as I thought I had been. I have certainly made mistakes, don’t get me wrong. But many of the things I was embarrassed of and carried forward were non-events when looking at them through mature eyes. It was just the people in my life made a huge deal of it. Their judgements and beliefs caused me to think badly of myself rather than seeing things as they really were.
- Seeing things from the frame of adulthood casts a different light on the past. With more experience, we may have cultivated more compassion, and thus are able to be kinder with ourselves and others.
- What ever happened, bad or good had happened, there was no going back, and while it may seem like yesterday, noticing how much time has actually passed and how much life has happened in these intervening years can sometimes make it easier to let go, or at least put it in it’s proper place.
- Often, after all the dust settles, and we are confronted with the question of forgiveness, the person we need to forgive is ourselves. We may need to ask for forgiveness, and if we do, do it from the heart, without the expectation, do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because you expect the person to accept it, because they may not. It’s their choice, and it’s on them.
- There were lots of happy things that happened, and tons of blessings I rarely think about because I was too busy looking at what I considered my failings. If you are like this, it’s time to make a list of all the great things you’ve done and have a private, or public, celebration. Make sure to spend more time focusing on happy moments.
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is forgiveness, and when it comes down to it, after everything is peeled away, I realize the person I most need to forgive is myself. Granted, other people can do some pretty hideous things. One of the things I’ve discovered is that often the scrapes I’ve gotten into are because of mistakes I’ve made. After all the blame is peeled away, the common denominator is me.
So, anyway, let’s take a look under the hood, and see where you are. Grab a pencil and your journal and go through this little list. I promise it will be fun, and you may see a few things differently.
List your greatest accomplishments:
List your greatest joys:
List what you consider failures:
Can you recast any? Can you see opportunities you didn’t see at the time? How would you do things differently? What have you learned?
List your hurts: Apply self care and soothing, love and compassion
Some of you may want to create a little ceremony to release past hurts and celebrate successes you may not have acknowledged before. There are all kinds of beautiful ideas. My friend Michelle loves to bathe in the sea, allowing the salt water to wash away the past. We’ve placed biodegradable wreaths on the water with notes and sent them off, we’ve sent up paper balloons with notes to the Universe, and burned pages of hurts. We’ve written letters to our younger selves telling them they were and are loved and will be kept safe. We’ve asked for forgiveness, and forgiven ourselves. We’ve buried past hurts in small coffin shaped cardboard boxes.
Once you have gone through your life list, it’s time to celebrate and release your baggage so together, we can make space the way for our plans and the miracles right around the corner.
Sometimes, we need help working our way through various issues in our lives. I have turned to therapy several times along my path to healing. Recently, I learned about Better Help, an online non-emergency mental health program that pairs you with an online therapist. It’s completely confidential and because it’s all done online you don’t have to worry about going in for an appointment. Click HERE for more information. *this is an affiliate link
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[* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (checkbox) *] I love this post, all great suggestions. Luckily I have done this several times through a 12 step program. I recently listened to Jane Fonda’s new book Prime Time, and it sounds like Naomi Judd’s life inventory. I was curious why so many people just cannot stand her, so I looked into learning more about her and decided that she was young and made some mistakes – which she owns and apologized for and so now I can defend her with accuracy when people… Read more »