The entrepreneurs I mentor are coping with a variety of dysfunctional patterns from their past history. Their hot buttons get pushed and emotions erupt that they cannot control. They attract repeated incidents that make it obvious they harbor unresolved issues. There are many metaphors to get creative about this kind of problem. My favorite is "resolving emotional baggage".
Emotional baggage stores psychological pain in our unconscious minds. When it's been activated, it appears people are making us feel negative in very familiar ways. We cannot stop feeling this way, as far as we have realized by attempts to chill out, move on or change. Our emotions are out of our control and dominating our experience. We appear to be possessed, overtaken or invaded by unwanted energies. We usually act out how bad we're feeling so other people stop making us feel this way. We're get the urge to punish the person who activated our baggage. We're in no mood to forget and forgive, or even understand and empathize with the other's pain.
We are attracted to people with matching luggage. They are attracted to our painful baggage too. The feelings are mutual. So is the torment. We make each other miserable with how it appears the other is making us feel. We may see the pattern but cannot stop repeating it. We may want to be more considerate but keep acting out our baggage.
Baggage puts us under the impression that we need something from the other person in our relationship. We are poised to be upset when we don't perceive this recurring pattern. We fail to question our giving more of the same thing to get a different result. We are certain that we are incomplete and lacking in some way. We are using the other person to fill in for our lack of self sufficiency, self confidence and self respect. We cannot relate to ourselves, but we expect the other to relate to us. Relationships go haywire when our baggage comes into play.
Emotional baggage contains lingering ghosts from our past history. Something overwhelming happened to us that we never put to rest. We couldn't handle it at the time and we assume we cannot resolve it now. It's been off-loaded to our unconscious to take it off our overloaded minds. We try to forget about it and succeed at "getting a grip" until the pain gets stirred up by someone with matching luggage. It then appears as our inescapable fate to face this issue.
In the process of unpacking emotional baggage, we expand our self respect into new territories. We discover new ways to be unique and accept our differences. We find talents, priorities and passions that others have found unacceptable. We get a different feeling about whatever others put in such a bad light. We see the good in what has been held as "really bad" for so long. We integrate what has been separated from our identity. We include in our self-confidence what could not be admired by others. We change our self concept to make this part of who we are.
As we work through this pain, we become more understanding of others. We realize how they were in pain and acted out their frustrations when they shot us down. We see how they could not control their emotions, feel safe under scrutiny or welcome our presence in their pain. We can picture how our uniqueness would inevitably push their hot buttons and get a big reaction out of them. We discover this awareness is essential
Once we can take a longer view of our lives, we see the timing in our baggage. It appears some of our uniqueness has been kept in safe-keeping until it was time to be further explored. Our baggage has kept our gifts from getting trammeled, destroyed or obliterated. We realize how we were not previously ready to express this part of ourselves confidently, maturely and compassionately.
Here's a complete listing of the entire series of posts on emotional baggage:
- What is emotional baggage? - For starters, let's explore many different frames of reference for what the metaphor of "emotional baggage" represents.
- Irrational bubbles, bursts and bailouts - I utilize many different models to understand irrational behavior.
- Encrypted for safekeeping - Its purpose is to minimize the potential harm from other's fear, envy, power trips or other dysfunctional attacks on our innate resourcefulness.
- Becoming capable of enjoying solitude - They decided to never again get caught alone when dangers like that appear to be present.
- Incapable of really relating- When others bring their baggage from a previous relationship into their relationship with us, we will likely get some additional baggage out of their
"acting out" ourselves.
- Revising your past history - This process does not change the facts of what happened which are already accurate. This framework changes your story about those facts.
- Do one thing different from before - Imagine our pieces of emotional baggage are really invisible copy machines that are working perfectly.
- Camouflaging our baggage - We know we are succeeding when no one sees through our disguise or suspects our coverup.
- Baggage as a partial solution - Partial solutions are problematic, but they set us up to do better, not make things worse for ourselves.
- Lured by matching luggage - At some point we'll discover we've bonded with their matching luggage.
- Those voices in our heads - Those voices in our minds typically take opposing stances on issues with our personal danger
- Snap judgments may become baggage - Snap judgments overreact to dangers and opportunities. We assume it's: "all or nothing", "now or never" and "win the prize or lose out totally"
- Two-sided structure of baggage - The two halves of any open piece of luggage are symbolic of the structure of our emotional baggage.
- Three wrongs make a right - We can make it right and begin to do right by others and ourselves. We simply need to make a right out of these three wrongs
- Humans behaving badly again - Our minds are designed to override this wonderful human intelligence whenever we're in significant danger.
- Predicting danger - Part One - We predict what will get us in trouble instantly, after a short while, or only if we provoke it.
- Predicting danger - Part Two - We predict that we can escape our cruel fate by appearing different to others.
- Keeping your lid from flipping - We act out our unresolved issues when we flip our lid or when we keep a snug lid on them.
- Dreadful memories of cruelty - We do not want to keep thinking about these incidents, even though we need to keep them in mind. Our emotional baggage helps us out and takes the load off our minds.
- Emotional baggage safety program - We forget why we have baggage and what
exactly it's doing for us.
- Baggage has a mind of its own - We have all learned from countless experiences that our emotional baggage does not listen to reason.
- Speaking the language of luggage - Here's some of the ways our baggage picks up on what's going down:
- Becoming more aware of our baggage - As we acquire even more awareness of our baggage, we realize it's functionality is a result of what's missing. It's really not a thing or a process, but an absence.
- Baggage as a cognitive hierarchy - The baggage in our minds appears a microcosm of the large hierarchies that employ thousands of people as government agencies, public
utilities and multinational corporations.
- This baggage induced recession - Here's how I'd explain how widespread emotional baggage got us into this mess.
- Baggage interferes with business modeling - Here's four ways that our baggage interferes with our creativity when considering recent advances in business models:
- Reworking our baggage at work - Business models that fail to recognize the drag on success created by everyone's baggage, undermine their own survival
- In lieu of going postal - Whenever we get to the other side of a painful setback, our tragic loss is no longer the boss of our lives. We take control of our conduct in ways that change
what we're feeling.
- Learning to solve problems by example - The nature of these problems defy conventional problem solving techniques. They give us emotional baggage, not confidence, efficacy or freedom from our past history.
- Baggage as unfinished business - We are typically stressed "out of our gourd" at the moment when we getting burdened with some baggage.
- Baggage as set in cement - Messing with what has been "set in cement "will feel like a tragic loss of pride, certainty, convictions, familiarity, meaning, purpose and control.
- Stockpiling negative experiences - When we choose to cling to a negative experience, we're usually certain that we have no choice in the matter. It seems like the clinging choses us, not the other way around.
- Taking things too personally - When we are taking something too personally, our minds are "outer directed".
- Scatterbrained following an explosion - The original negative experience can be imagined as an explosion in our minds. We cannot keep it together because the incident was so alarming, upsetting and disorienting.
- 10th Anniversary of the Columbine Tragedy - Of course I was considering the role of emotional baggage as I read the book.
- Underdeveloped regions of experience - To put our baggage in its proper perspective, it's helpful to consider three other regions of experience: the future, the present moment and the realm of meaning.
- Trapped inside a story - When our baggage has been activated by a dreadfully familiar circumstance, it's helpful to look at this through the lens of storytelling. At that moment, we are trapped inside a very strange story that offers no escape.
- Authoring a new story - Our baggage gives us a victim story where we feel powerless or a conquest story where we're driven to act like a bully. In either case, our baggage gives us no
sense of being free to create a new narrative.
- Sabotaging disruptive innovation - What the lens of emotional baggage offers is WHY the incumbents cannot improve their chances of survival.
- Derailed by emotional baggage - When a train of thought moves down a line of reasoning, we can get to a better place. We leave the past behind us and feel better right now.
- Bozo vs. baggage - Our baggage maintains these incessant inner conflicts. Our conscious desires appear to be conceived by a real idiot.
- Making do with a dilemma - When we've let go of our conscious desire as the only right answer, we're in a place to embrace the dilemma.
- Transforming desires to eliminate baggage - When our desires get blocked or sabotaged by our emotional baggage, we assume our desires are right.
- Picturing baggage as habits - We're trapped by whatever worked in our past history, just like behavior patterns we got into the habit of doing long ago.
- If we had no past history - ...Yet, upon deeper reflection, there as many
disadvantages to having no past history:
- Getting beyond past history - Here are some of the conceptual models for getting beyond our past history:
- Raising the level of suspense - Baggage kills the suspense in our lives. The pain we've hung onto keeps the same things happening over and over
- Sorting out a tangled mess - When two people become a pair with matching luggage, most of what's happening occurs below the surface.
- Mind of a control freak - What drives those people to control others
- Mind of a control freak -redux - How are we entangled by other closed minds when someone controls others
- Rethinking emotional baggage - How we could embrace the complexity of baggage by picturing it in space
- Depending on the emotional investment - Three other kinds of emotional investment besides the one that produces PTSD
- What's been eating you exactly? - Getting eaten by an experience until some other convincing experiences get to us
- Getting out of a stuck place - Dropping down to find the exits
- Breaking emotional stalemates - Seen from the sidelines, we can break our habitual reactions to opposing stances
- Getting to a better place - Approaching resolution as a far out idea
- Pitfalls on the path to resolution - Falling for tempting thinking that gets us nowhere
- Changing our minds with ease - Deliberately getting sidetracked
- Getting the right impression - Recognizing the wrong impression to find the right one
- Coming from a place of wonder - Giving up rigid opinions that no longer serve us
- Settling for middle ground - Changing how we spell "relief"
- Getting to a panoramic place - Realizing vaster possibilities from understanding others' stories
- Leveraging baggage-laden incumbents - Making the world a better place while others are doing the opposite
- Internalizing negative experiences - Realizing how we also internalize positive experiences to sort out what's good about internalizing our experiences