Shed the excess baggage for a healthy relationship

Airport terminals normally witness two kinds of passengers. The ones who effortlessly check-in their bags and the ones who are struggling to lug their bags to check-in counters. Passengers traveling light never have to worry about their excess weight. While the latter are always hoping their excess baggage would fall within the stipulated airline limits –  inducing anxiety to dodge the extra charges.

Are you struggling to share your emotions with your partner? Are your past experiences weighing you down? Are you full of self-doubt? Are you making unfounded assumptions about your partner? If the answer to any one or all of these questions is affirmative, you too could be carrying that extra baggage with you. Memories of the past which a person carries consciously or unconsciously and which continue to control his/her present can be defined as emotional baggage. It could be anyone or anything who/which has outlived its shelf life and has turned into an unnecessary burden.

Carting too much weight from the past can be a real relationship turnoff. Our unpleasant past dictates our present. It is responsible for our actions and reactions, thoughts and choices. The previous experiences we carry don’t allow us to live our lives to the fullest. Fear of being hurt again restricts our expression. Our reactions to our past trials and tribulations are not fair on our present relationship. And it’s not always about the unpleasant experiences. Even fond memories can act as an obstacle to one’s current relationship. It becomes a benchmark and limits one’s appreciation for new one.

Particular aspects of our personality like our habits, ego, idiosyncrasies, projections, coping and defence mechanisms make us hold on to the past, forming set patterns to be repeated at every stage of a relationship cycle. Holding on to one’s ex can be something similar. How many times have we seen divorced individuals talking about their ex-spouse? Despite being in a new relationship, they can’t let go of their ex. Children in abusive families often grow up as abusive parents themselves. Painful childhood experiences are so ingrained that they are projected onto their family – knowingly or unknowingly. Studies in neuro science have established the paradoxical nature of the human brain. It is prone to affection and protection at the same time. It is constantly struggling to get close at the same time wanting to protect itself from any pain. A bitter marriage would make things difficult for a remarriage. Strong need for proximity and affection would intermittently be replaced by feelings of fear and insecurity.

Lingering issues from the past need to be addressed. The problem is not with the issues but how we deal with them. Nobody comes baggage free into a relationship. But if old problems which still weigh you down are used as learning tools, you can certainly get rid of a lot of extras. A three step approach can effectively help us de-clutter: Realisation – Acceptance – Implementation

Embracing the reality by being honest about your feelings is the first step to realization. And with realization comes the need to assess if the goal is worth the effort. It leads to acceptance which is an imperative part of the healing process. Resisting it only perpetuates it. We need to acknowledge what triggered the hurt and be ready to open ourselves up. It’s never easy to be vulnerable in a relationship. But it is the same vulnerability which forms the basis of a well-founded and healthy relationship. Communication is the key for making the much required shift. Expressing ourselves to someone who can truly listen to us, validate our feelings and experience, show compassion, support, encouragement and understanding can certainly facilitate the implementation.

Travelling with zero access baggage will certainly make your trip worthwhile. How about carrying an extra handbag though???