Dragging Your Luggage Through The Airport Of Life

One of the things you will often read if you ever find yourself browsing the personals is the often requested “no baggage.” No one would logically want to date or enter into a relationship with someone so weighed down by their problems and the legacy of past relationships that they cannot function properly in a new relationship. Is it reasonable to expect that someone should have no baggage? Does everyone even mean the same thing when they talk about baggage?

The events and experiences of a person’s past is fundamentally what has made that person who they are today. In life it’s not how much baggage you carry, but how you manage it and how it affects your relationships in the present.

Packing Your Bags:

Over the course of any person’s life a great deal of things both good and bad will happen to someone. From the moment we are born, other people in our lives will influence the person that we become. As much as everyone hopes that those influences will always be good ones, the fact remains that we will be confronted with bad influences, poor examples and bad choices. That is a fact of life that everyone must deal with.

In dealing with the bad things that we will experience in our lives, we will build up a character and shape our value system. When people typically talk about emotional baggage they are talking about the problems that people experience as a result of a bad relationship, but such a relationship is simply another bad experience like any other. Bad experiences with family, friends, co-workers or anyone else that have the capability to effect our lives can create emotional issues just as serious or life altering as a bad relationship. Indeed, someone who has never had a serious relationship could have enough luggage to give a porter a hernia.

To say that someone has no baggage is a misnomer. Everyone has had experiences in their lives. Trying to deny that we are affected (negatively or positively) by the baggage that we build up over the years is a fallacy. Indeed, it would be to deny the experience that we have gained and the lessons we have learned. Trying to live a life baggage free will result in either: missing out on life (for fear of being hurt), or repeating the mistakes of the past because we fail to learn from them.

Asking For Help:

Accepting that we all have our suitcases to carry is not a choice that we are free to make. It is inevitable that we will end up with our own personal set of bags, but how much luggage we carry and how it will affect our trip through life is very much a choice that we can make. We cannot choose for bad things not to happen to us, but we do choose how we will allow them to affect our lives in the future.

Certainly, few people will manage to make it through this life without being touched by tragedy, emotional upset or the carelessness of another person. It would be wrong to diminish the seriousness of the pain that may be caused by that event. The loss of a relationship, through break up or at worst a divorce can be a traumatic experience. Losing a loved one to death. Being the victim of violent crime or abuse.

The scale of experiences that we can experience in life is unending. It is far too simplistic to suggest that someone could just “get over it” and move on. In fact, to fail to deal with something completely will only make the issue worse. Like carrying bags you never knew you had. The problem with bags you aren’t aware of (or choose to ignore) is they are never packed right, and always include things that you should not be bringing with you.

It is never a failure in life to ask for help, when you have experienced something traumatic. Friends, family or even professional counselling can help someone through something that they could never handle on their own. Human beings are social creatures, by nature and as such, we are not designed to internalize and suppress these experiences. As backwards as it may sound, talking about a bad experience is a significant coping mechanism for people.

Packing Light:

At some point a negative experience becomes something that we will integrate into our life, along with all our other experiences. How you accomplish this is fundamental to how heavy your baggage gets over your life. Too many people have internalized every negative experience they’ve ever had, only to find themselves trying to drag a steamer trunk towards their destination with no luggage cart.

The secret to packing light, is to keep the pieces of an experience that you have learned from. Keep the lessons learnt and take responsibility for the parts of the experience that you had control over and the choices you made. Reject the issues in an experience that you do not own. Take no responsibility for the poor choices that someone else made. If you cannot take responsibility for the poor choices you have made in life, then you will be doomed to repeat them.

Rejecting responsibility for the actions of others and the damage they inflicted is the easiest way to lighten your load. Too many people have been the victim of someone else’s poor judgement only to internalize the damage inflicted and allow that to become a negative influence in their lives.

The end result to all this sorting, and key for the success of future relationships, is it allows you to move forward with a new relationship with the benefit of past experiences, but without judging the relationship or that new person by the events in a past relationship. The biggest mistake that anyone can make is to base your judgement of someone on the character of someone else. Every person is an individual and deserves to be judged accordingly.


Like anything else in life, there are never easy answers for how to manage the bad experiences that we find ourselves confronted with. It is a lucky person who gets to spend his life in a healthy relationship with the first person they fall in love with. The reality is that at some point in our lives we will have to face having our heart broken. It is important not to bring the legacy of a past heart break into a new relationship. It will only become a poison in the relationship. It is also important not to leave behind everything that you’ve learnt from your mistakes and the wisdom that comes from a failed relationship.

Everyone should have pride in who they are at each moment of their life. To have that kind of pride and self confidence is to embrace the experiences (both good and bad) that have made them who they are.

I will never claim to be baggage free. I am proud the person I have become because of the struggles I have had to go through in my life. You’ll know me when you see me… I’m the one wheeling through the airport terminal with my carry-on bag on wheels.

By: James Whitaker

Posted:  2004-04-07  10:44:49 AM
Updated:  2004-04-07  10:45:48 AM

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